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". Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, when thinking of 8 May 1945, and remembering what happened on it, we think of the period that preceded it, and also of the period thereafter. It is impossible for any German Member of this House to think of that date without at the same time recalling his or her own nationality. The group on whose behalf I speak includes MEPs from Germany, representing the country that wanted this war, that prepared for this war, that waged it and was merciless in organising it. Over past weeks, we have often asked about the point of this European Union of ours, and we have been asked what it is for. What this Union is for is described in our speeches today. The continuance to this very day of this work of unification, which is still overcoming division, still holding racism in contempt, still excluding from the community of democrats all anti-Semites, racists and Nazis, still holding these criminals up to scorn, still enumerating their deeds, and still remembering them – that is the basis, the moral and intellectual foundation of our European Union, the Union built up by our fathers and our fathers’ fathers. In the meantime, Europe has a heritage; the EU is no longer a novelty. It is now 60 years old, having, in principle, been born on 8 May 1945. Right now, we have a heritage to manage if we are to pass it on. If we care for this heritage, knowing ourselves duty bound to remember that the Third Reich represented the moral nadir of the human race, from which we have drawn the right conclusions by creating this Union, then we European politicians will enable the young men and women who sit in this Chamber’s galleries to have a brighter future to look forward to than did their fathers and grandfathers in the past. I also speak, though, on behalf of Members from Poland, the country that was the first to be overrun by the German army, as well as of Members from the countries – the United Kingdom and France – that were foremost among the Allies, without whose combined might Hitler could not have been brought down. Next to me sits Poul Nyrup Rasmussen, for many years Prime Minister of Denmark, a country that Hitler’s Germany overran and occupied overnight – one of the occupying soldiers being my own father. I also speak on behalf of Members from countries that suffered under dictatorship long after the Second World War was over. My group includes a lawyer who defended victims of the Franco regime, and another Member who was a victim himself, having been tortured in the dungeons of the secret police. Some of my group colleagues are from Portugal and Greece, men and women who – like you, Mr President of the Commission – in their younger days rejoiced to see the dictators driven from their countries. My group includes my friend Józef Pinior, who will be the next to speak for the group, and who spent time being tortured in Communist jails for being a trade unionist and a social democrat. For me to be able to speak on behalf of all these people is a privilege, a privilege I owe to the European Union. It is something for which we can all be grateful to the men and women who had to take on responsibility, after 8 May 1945, for the work of unification that they achieved. As the President-in-Office of the Council said, on that day, 8 May 1945, lessons had to be learned, and the right ones were. The history of the European Union, the post-8 May 1945 history of Europe, is a success story. It is the history of the firm determination that grew out of the ruins, the history of a ‘never again!’ This ‘never again!’ was not said to the empty air. It took on shape and form, forms in which we work today, from which we benefit today, forms that enable me to represent Members of the Jewish faith, that make it possible for my group to include Muslim MEPs, for there to be in my group Members who have suffered, and those who have learned from those who suffered. They make it possible for us to find common ground by affirming one thing: the lesson of 8 May must be that, if this ‘never again!’ is to be permanent, it must be fought for anew every day. For our democracy, for our Europe, our fight goes on day by day. Let us, today, remember the causes, the period that went before, marked as it was by one insight. It is unique in the history of the human race for a state to define itself and its purpose in terms of the extermination of other peoples and races. Neither before nor since has there been a state that justified its own existence by saying that it existed as a state in order that the Jews, the Slavs, the Roma, the Sinti and the handicapped might be wiped out. Such a thing is unique in the history of the human race. That is the extraordinary thing about the Third Reich; the Nazis wanted not a trace to remain behind of the Jews of Europe. A few weeks ago, I was at Yad Vashem, the memorial site in Jerusalem. I descended into the corridors and hallways below ground in which the fates of the millions of victims are depicted. The Director of Yad Vashem, who guided me around, said to me: ‘Every day, I descend into this hell and see them – the pictures, them alone. It is a hell.’ Then I went up the steps and through a corridor into the new museum, which has a wide glass frontage, and there, in the sunlight, is the city of Jerusalem. ‘Every day,’ said the director of Yad Vashem, ‘when I come out of that hell and see that sight, I know that they did not succeed. We are alive. We made it; the Nazis did not.’ Every memory, every day of remembrance, every name that we read out, is a victory over the criminals who wanted nothing to remain. If we remember them, the Jewish people remain, as do the Roma and the Sinti, as do those who were murdered for political reasons, as do also the people with disabilities. They remain in our recollection, and hence they live. So many victims, so many names! Anne Frank was a little Jewish girl, whose only crime was to be a little Jewish girl in Amsterdam. On such a day, let us remember Anne Frank. Sophie Scholl was a young German student, whose only crime was to be an upright person, and who was beheaded at the age of 18 for distributing leaflets denouncing the Nazi regime. I also think of Krzysztof Baczynski, a young Polish poet, shot dead in Warsaw by a German marksman. Three names out of 55 million victims! Three names, yet enumerated to represent all the other victims. Let me repeat: three names which we call to mind, and which stand as representing all those whom we should remember."@en1

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