On 1 April 1945 the US troops reached Thuringia. In Creuzburg the troops wanted to advance, but in Creuzburg there also remained a few incorrigibles who still believed that they had to defend Adolf Hitler and his murderous regime. Creuzburg ended up as nothing more than debris and ashes, for the Americans no longer wanted to let some incorrigibles halt them in their tracks.
The Americans were then to experience a gruesome surprise in the Jonas Valley. There, in Ohrdruf, for the first time they discovered the masses of corpses from the concentration camps in the Ohrdruf satellite-camp. But after they drove up the Ettersberg hill in Weimar and reached the Buchenwald concentration camp, they realized that something heinous had happened within this German Reich. Until that juncture, there were no images of what we had to experience of this horror.
Those crimes perpetrated in concentration camps are an expression of the destruction of humanity and of humaneness. Nothing can justify them, nothing can explain them away; we’ve got to constantly ensure that these crimes against humanity never again be repeated. And, that is why it remains our responsibility today, as in the future.
We wanted to jointly celebrate the liberation with the survivors in the German National Theatre in Weimar, as well as on the former roll call square in Buchenwald. The coronavirus has prevented us from doing so.
Our utmost wish is to protect everybody: we want to make it clear to those unable to come under these circumstances, that once we put the coronavirus behind us that we will again congregate on another day in order to say together: In Buchenwald, the Buchenwald Oath is still alive. The Buchenwald Oath remains our daily task. Every single day we have to make it clear that we can never accept getting used to an excessive form of nationalism and to normalizing the crimes committed under National Socialism.
Formulations such as “flipping political history 180 degrees,” or “a speck of bird poop” do not rightly explain this criminality. That is why we say: With 75 years of Buchenwald, the liberation of Buchenwald constitutes a liberation from inhumanity and from murderous acts. That is why we remember these events. I look forward to the day when we can again congregate in Buchenwald and to join voices with the survivors to make it clear that the Buchenwald Oath remains our task.