The German President Joachim Gauck spoke following mass held at the Berlin Cathedral in commemoration of the genocide of Armenians, Assyrians and Pontic Greeks. Gauck defined 1915 as genocide, and also underlined Germany’s role in the events.
Gauck began his speech with the words “We remember in this hour members of the Armenian people who a century ago became victims of planned and systematic killings” and continued with the expressions “The fate of the Armenians is an example of the history of mass destruction, ethnic cleansing, deportation and genocide, with which the 20th century is marked in such a terrible manner”.
Gauck said that the crimes were committed in the shadow of war, adding, ‘war has always been a pretext for evil acts’.
‘Recognition is the responsibility of the living’
“The perpetrators of the past are no longer alive, and their children and grandchildren cannot be blamed for their crimes. However, the descendants of the victims may rightly expect the recognition of a historical fact. And that is the responsibility of the living today.”
‘Germany is also responsible’
In his speech, Gauck also touched upon Germany’s responsibility in the genocide, and stated that ‘German soldiers were involved in the planning and partly in the implementation of the deportation’ and that Germany ignored the events because it did not want to jeopardize its relations with its Ottoman allies, and that this could be determined from the reports of German diplomats and observers.
Gauck also referred to Hitler’s infamous words ‘Who speaks today of the annihilation of Armenians today?’ and responded by saying, ‘We do! Even today, 100 years later, we are talking about crimes against humanity, and human dignity. And we speak of it so no dictator or tyrant can think an act of ethnic cleansing will be ignored or forgotten’.