Thomas Kunze
Thomas Kunze is the head of the Moscow Office and the Country Representative for Russia of the Konrad Adenauer Foundation. This is his second tour: previously he ran the Moscow office in 2005−2008. Twice, in 2002−2004 and 2010−2019, he headed the Representative Office of the Konrad Adenauer Foundation for Central Asia in Tashkent. Thomas Kunze is a doctor of philosophy, historian and publicist, author of numerous biographies and books on German and Eastern European history, on Soviet and post-Soviet history. He studied history, Germanism and pedagogy at Friedrich Schiller University in Jena and Karl Marx University in Leipzig. Thomas Kunze is born in 1963 in Leipzig.
On the current attempts to reinterpret the role of the Soviet Union in the Victory
A few weeks ago I traveled to St. Petersburg to meet 92 year-old Muza Nikolaevna Yeremeyeva, the granddaughter of a Soviet star tenor of 1930s. During the Siege of Leningrad, in the years 1941 to 1944 she was there, in the devastated city. The historical facts on the Siege are widely known, historians depict its course, give the numbers of victims. Muza Nikolayevna told me her personal story. On one of the days during the Siege she, the little girl, was going up the dark stairs and heard a muffled, heavily wheezing sound. She saw a man lying in a corner, barely audible, begging for food. Scared to death and crying, she ran up the last steps into the apartment. When her parents went down the stairs a short time later, the man was already dead. His corpse lay there for several more days.

Traces and scars of the Second World War are still shaping families, societies, and politics in many countries. No war in human history has been more costly in terms of victims and destruction than the Second World War. It claimed the lives of at least 66 million people. It is a historical fact that the war in Europe came from the German soil and that it had its most devastating and decisive battles in the west part of the Soviet Union, on the territory of today’s Russia, Belarus, and Ukraine. There was no other theater of war where so many soldiers were slaughtered, so many civilians were killed, and so much material destruction took place.

The Battle of Stalingrad and the Battle of Kursk are recalled and referred to as historical milestones.
The Russian or Eastern Campaign, as it was called in the German Reich, was a relentless, brutal war. Hitler’s Germany waged it from the very beginning as a war of annihilation, the Vernichtungskrieg
The ideological dimension of this war led, among other things, to the fact that other European nations and volunteer military units joined Germany during the invasion of the USSR.

That which started out from Germany between 1939 and 1941 was returned to Germany in 1945. German cities were ruined through bombings. Fifteen million Germans were expelled from their settlement areas. Hundreds of thousands were deported into forced labor. Germany was split into zones of occupation and, finally, in 1949, divided into two states.

The Soviet Union fought this war from the very beginning as a war that demanded the utmost from every individual, every family, every factory. Through this, the Soviet Union and its allies succeeded in winning against Hitler. The wartime evacuation of the industry changed the industrial geography of the whole country. Cities such as Minsk, Voronezh, or Stalingrad were largely destroyed, and entire areas of Belarus were decimated.

No other country in the world had more victims during the Second World War than the Soviet Union. In this war, the USSR lost at least 27 million people, most of them civilians.
This story cannot be rewritten. Hitler’s Germany started this war, and every German is aware of this historical guilt
How we can preserve the memory of the victory against Nazism
The German chancellor Konrad Adenauer said in 1959: "The dead remind us. They have left us, survivors, with the task of learning from the experiences and sufferings of the past to rebuild a better Germany and to work for peace." What was true in 1959 is still relevant for us Germans today. The Second World War has left deep marks on German society, as it did on Russian society. Monuments to the victims of Nazism can be found all over Germany. Soviet monuments are also still there in German cities, sometimes — like in Berlin — right in the city center.

On 14 September 1990, shortly before the German reunification, Hans-Dietrich Genscher, Minister of Foreign affairs of the Federal Republic of Germany and the acting Foreign Minister of the GDR, Prime Minister Lothar de Maiziére, wrote a joint letter to the Foreign Ministers of the Soviet Union, France, Great Britain, and the United States on the occasion of the signing of the Two plus Four Treaty. It says: "The monuments dedicated to the victims of war and tyranny, which have been erected on German soil, will be respected and will enjoy the protection of German law. The same applies to the war graves, which will be maintained and looked after." The Soviet monuments belong to Germany.

Again and again you can hear from Germans living or traveling in Russia that, as a German, you don't feel any hatred there. This is true for me as well.
We Germans are grateful to the peoples of Russia and the Soviet Union for the fact that they have forgiven, that they distinguish between the past and the present
This year we are not only commemorating 75 years since the end of the Second World War. In Germany we also look back on 30 years since German reunification. Both historical events are closely connected. We will always be grateful that the Soviet Union, in the face of German war guilt and the German crimes during the Second World War in the Soviet Union, supported and agreed to the reunification of our fatherland in 1990. On the occasion of the 75th anniversary of the "Victory in the Great Patriotic War" - as it is called in Russia — the country commemorates the victims who fell in this war.
Russia commemorates the hardships, honors its veterans. Nevertheless, in the year 2020, it is not accusing Germany; instead, it faces the Germans in a spirit of friendship, which is an enormous collective merit of your country
Therefore, good and friendly German-Russian relations should always be our obligation. And this is especially relevant in times when the peoples of Europe are facing new challenges. There are times in which it is vital to support each other, as now during the Corona pandemic. We are witnessing the most significant global catastrophe since 1945, and it is forcing peoples to show mutual solidarity in a way that has not been needed for a long time. Russia stepped forward with its rapid assistance to plagued Italy.

Such unthinkable crises must be an opportunity. I am convinced that we must take a pause after this crisis to set new priorities. This is equally true for each individual, but also for the relations between countries. We will reassess our positions and then — in view of what we have been through — remind ourselves that Russia is an integral part of Europe.

De jure, the post-war period came to an end in 1990. Seventy-five years after the end of the Second World War, the current crisis marks the de facto end of the post-war period. Visions such as that of a Common European Home, a Europe from the Atlantic to the Pacific, which de Gaulle, Kohl, Gorbachev, Putin, Macron, and other politicians spoke of, could gain new momentum.
The risks of revival of the far-right ideologies and countering them
The coronavirus crisis shows very clearly that what matters is not ideologies but functioning states. The year 2020 will constitute a similar turning point for the XXI century as 1945 did for the XX century. A turning point in terms of coalitions and alliances, questions of globalization and economic and financial policy, international solidarity, but also for many countries, it is a turning point in consideration on what has and has not proved politically viable.

I am optimistic that the outcome of the pandemic will not be a reawakening of extreme ideologies, but a reflection on what holds us together in our states and nations, as well as globally.

Our vulnerability has become all too apparent to all of us.
On the use of information

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Demonstration of Nazi and fascist paraphernalia or symbols on this resource is related only to the description of the historical context of the events of the 1930−1940s, is not its propaganda and does not justify the crimes of fascist Germany.