We must resolutely oppose hatred, Merkel says in Liberation Day address
German chancellor Angela Merkel has given this year’s May 5 speech, which traditionally kicks off the Liberation Day celebrations.
Speaking by video link from Berlin, Merkel said she was grateful for the invitation to give the address, which she said, is a ‘special sign of the friendship between the Netherlands and Germany.’
In her speech, Merkel directly addressed survivors of the death camps and spoke of Anne Frank, describing the ‘immeasurable suffering that people had to endure’.
‘Nothing can fill the empty space left by the people who have been murdered,’ she said. ‘Nothing can take away the loss and pain of the survivors… Keeping the memory alive is Germany’s eternal responsibility.’
The theme of freedom, she said, cannot be considered today without looking at the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. ‘In order to overcome this threat and once again enjoy our freedoms without restriction, we can build on a solid foundation: on European solidarity as a result of a unique process of reconciliation and unification,’ she said.
We Germans, she went on, will never forget that the Netherlands reached out to us after World War II to make reconciliation possible.
Today too, Europeans are being called on to defend their values, she said. Recent terrorist attacks ‘remind us that as citizens we must resolutely oppose any form of anti-Semitism and racism and any form of hatred and hostility towards certain groups.’
‘Our two countries work closely together as Europeans and good neighbours and we have conquered crises and achieved successes together,’ she said. ‘But we will never forget that we cannot undo the past.’
Despite the pandemic, the freedom flame was lit in Wageningen as usual and there are ceremonial flames in all 12 Dutch provinces. Online concerts replace the traditional festivals and other events.
People are also being urged to make a special ‘freedom soup‘ based on seasonal vegetables with curry powder and coconut milk, and share it with their neighbours.
War stories: the Netherlands and World War II
In the evening, instead of the floating concert on the Amstel river, there will be a more low-key event in the foyer of the Carré theatre which will be broadcast live on NPO1.
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