Promoting Europe is the legacy of 6 June 1944

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Federal Chancellor at D-Day commemoration ceremony Promoting Europe is the legacy of 6 June 1944

80 years ago, allied troops landed on the coast of Normandy. Federal Chancellor Olaf Scholz took part in the commemoration ceremony in France. Article by the Federal Chancellor for the “Ouest France” newspaper.

Omaha Beach in Normandy

Omaha Beach in Normandy: The Allied troops landed here 80 years ago.

Photo: Federal Government/Bergmann

by Olaf Scholz

The Allied landing in Normandy on 6 June 1944, 80 years ago today, was a day of liberation. It was a day of liberation for France and for many countries of Europe that had to endure a reign of terror under German occupation. But it was also a day of liberation for Germany itself. After all, the landing of the Allies on the beaches of Normandy marked the beginning of the end of the barbaric system of National Socialism, of its racist fanaticism and militarism, of its will to exterminate and its imperialistic fantasies.

The courage of the liberators of the Omaha, Juno, Gold, Utah and Sword Beaches paved the way for democracy and freedom, for prosperity and the rule of law in Germany. Their courage offered us Germans the chance for a new beginning, the opportunity to come to terms with our past and, initially in the West and later on throughout the country, to build up a democratic society. Hundreds of thousands of soldiers paid the ultimate price for this. They gave their lives – we will never forget that.

I feel profound gratitude and humility today for the resolve of the free world in standing up to the reign of terror and suppression and defending their own values. I feel gratitude and humility also for the sacrifices of those who lost their lives on the beaches of Normandy and on the battlefields of Europe, and for the steadfast will of the Allies, first and foremost France, to achieve reconciliation with Germany.

The fact that I, as Germany’s Federal Chancellor, have the opportunity to take part in the commemorations today is anything but a matter of course. This is a testament to how close the ties between our countries, between our peoples and also between our governments, have become over the past decades. It is an expression of a united Europe and a testament to the strength of our transatlantic partnership.

My attendance today is also a reflection of the close Franco-German bond that has continued to grow stronger in the decades since the end of the war. Adversaries became partners and, ultimately, friends – the closest of friends. President Macron’s state visit just a few days ago was an impressive reaffirmation of this. Germany and France form a genuine community with a common destiny today. We are united in the objective of creating a strong, sovereign Europe that is capable of action.

All of this should and can encourage us in the light of the return of war and imperialism to Europe in the form of Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine.

For Germany and our partners and allies, it is clear that Russia’s brutal imperialism cannot be allowed to succeed. And it will not succeed because we are continuing to support Ukraine in its heroic fight to defend itself – for as long as it takes.

We are committed today to the European peace project and to a society enjoying peace and democracy. We are defending all of this by continuing to build up a Europe that is a central pillar of the transatlantic Alliance. For me, it is clear that Europe will assume even more responsibility in the future.

For us, an economically, militarily and socially strong Europe, firmly anchored in the transatlantic Alliance and united in the European Union and its partnerships, forms the basis for preserving peace and freedom also in the future. Promoting this Europe is the legacy of 6 June 1944.