Richard von Weizsäcker's speech 8 May 1985
It was a day of liberation for Germany.
Germany has no cause to celebrate the date, it should be a day of commemoration.
Germany's reaction to WW II was
After all the atrocities, suffering, injustice, mass exodus and destruction Germany subscribed to the basic human rights.
A very brave and powerful speech, considering Helmut Kohl's (then Chancellor) "grace of late birth" attitude allowing him to wash his hands of all responsibility for anything arising from German history that didn't fit his views, mostly the Nazi era.
I agree that Richard von Weizsäcker's speech which I just reread is excellent as it encompasses so many different aspects and is an important step forward, however I'm not sure if Helmut Kohl's quote, die Gnade der späten Geburt
, is the expression of a Schlussstrich
mentality. He later explained that all he wanted to say was he considered it pure luck that because of his age he was spared any active role during the Nazi regime . Richard von Weizsäcker on the other hand is ten years his senior, and his father Ernst von Weizsäcker
was a diplomat in the Third Reich and therefore very involved with the regime, to say the least. Ernst von Weizsäcker was tried at the Nuremberg Tribunal, and Richard von Weizsäcker was his defence counsel. Of course, Richard von Weizsäcker couldn't choose his family, but he sure had a greater personal motivation to analyse these questions of guilt and responsibility.