On the 80th anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier acknowledged Germany's responsibility for the extermination of the Jews and asked for forgiveness. At a commemorative event at the Monument to the Heroes of the Ghetto in Warsaw together with the Presidents of Poland and Israel, Andrzej Duda and Izchak Herzog, he also thanked the two states for their reconciliation with the former perpetrators. This is an "infinitely precious gift," it said in Steinmeier's previously published speech.
Germans meticulously planned and carried out the Shoah's crime against humanity. "Germans persecuted, enslaved and murdered the Jews of Europe, the Jews of Warsaw, with a cruelty and inhumanity that we have no words for," said Steinmeier. "I stand before you today and ask your forgiveness for the crimes that Germans have committed here." He stands here "in mourning and humility".
The Federal President emphasized that the Germans were aware of their responsibility and of the task that the survivors and the dead had left them. "We accept it. For us Germans, our responsibility in the face of our history knows no bounds. It remains our reminder and our mission, now and in the future."
The Warsaw ghetto was established by the German occupiers in the fall of 1940. Around 450,000 people were trapped there in a very small space. In 1942, the National Socialists began deporting Jews to extermination and labor camps. Between July and September, 250,000 to 280,000 people were abducted or murdered. When SS units marched into the ghetto on April 19, 1943, the uprising of the weakly armed Jewish resistance began. The fighting lasted until mid-May. More than 56,000 Jews were killed or deported to concentration and extermination camps.
The most important lesson from German history is "Never again!" Steinmeier emphasized. The Germans had learned this lesson. Never again, which means that there should be no criminal war of aggression like Russia's against Ukraine in Europe. "Never again, that means: We stand firmly on the side of Ukraine - together with Poland and with our other allies. We support Ukraine in humanitarian, political and military terms - together with Poland and our allies."