Even seventy-five years after the liberation from the Nazis in 1945, we are still deeply conscious of the inhumanity and crimes committed by Nazi Germany. For our part, we honour all those who resisted. We are taking an active part in history and the sufferings endured by millions of people who were disenfranchised, humiliated, marginalized, plundered, and murdered by the National Socialists, initially within Germany and subsequently in the nations and regions occupied by the Third Reich: primarily the German and European Jewries, but also the Sinti and Roma communities, the sick and disabled, homosexuals, Jehovah's Witnesses, those socially discriminated against, as well as all those who had to do forced labour in occupied Europe or as deportees in the Third Reich, or were victims of occupation and war crimes.
We know all-too-well that contempt for democracy and human rights, anti-Semitism, racism, social and cultural prejudice, ethnic and nationalistic-driven delusions of grandeur, greed and willingness to exploit were the causes of these crimes, and that many Germans in that time acted upon such motives. We know and seriously appreciate that Germany did not free itself from National Socialism by dint of its own efforts; that a large number of crimes went unpunished; and that too many perpetrators and criminals could continue their lives after 1945 as though nothing had happened. We know that establishing and consolidating democracy in the Federal Republic of Germany is based not least on the self-critical examination of the crimes that preceded its emergence as a nation. Hence, there can be no such thing as a clean break with our past.
Among the many lessons history has taught us is the certainty that a democratic constitution that protects human dignity and a functioning division of powers constitutes the backbone of a liberal constitutional state. Without such a constitution, the state and democracy will fall apart. Today, however, right-wing radicalism and authoritarianism are on the rise, as are a form of populism emboldened by a racially motivated superiority complex, nationalism, and the undermining of European unity. The borders of the separation of powers are blurring worldwide; fundamental rights are in danger of being suppressed or have already been abolished. Racism and anti-Semitism are openly propagated and have led to acts of violence in Germany that would have been inconceivable even several years ago. In the light of our historical memory, it is patently clear that yesterday's destructive poisons are once again being touted as a universal remedy for society’s ills.
Regrettably and notwithstanding our experience of National Socialism, human rights, democracy, and freedom can by no means be taken for granted. They have to be defended over and again. And, we are thoroughly committed to defending them.
Minister President of the Free State of Thuringia
President of the Thuringian State Parliament
Dr. h.c. Stefan Kaufmann
President of the Thuringian Constitutional Court
Éva Fahidi-Pusztai, Budapest
Vice-President of Hungary in the International Committee
Buchenwald Dora and Commandos
Naftali Fürst, Haifa
Vice President of Israel in the International Committee
Buchenwald Dora and Commandos
Ivan Ivanji, Belgrade
Survivor of the concentration camps
Auschwitz and Buchenwald
Prof. Dr. Volkhard Knigge
Direktor der Stiftung Gedenkstätten Buchenwald und Mittelbau-Dora
Prof. Monika Grütters MdB
Staatsministerin für Kultur und Medien
Prof. Dr. Benjamin-Immanuel Hoff
Chef der Staatskanzlei und Thüringer Minister für Kultur, Bundes- und Europaangelegenheiten sowie Stiftungsratsvorsitzender
Prof. Dr. José Brunner
Professor Emeritus, Tel Aviv University und Enkel von Max Brunner, ehemaliger Buchenwald-Häftling
Prof. Dr. Norbert Frei
Vorsitzender des Wissenschaftlichen Kuratoriums der Stiftung Gedenkstätten Buchenwald und Mittelbau-Dora