Liberation from National Socialism

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As liberation from National Socialism in Germany and Austria is the elimination of Nazi rule by the unconditional surrender of the Wehrmacht in World War II referred to in the early years 1945th The term emphasizes the partial aspect of the end of the National Socialist dictatorship . In the Federal Republic of Germany in the immediate post-war period , on the other hand, the terms “collapse” or “ zero hour ” were predominantly used, emphasizing material hardship, destruction, dismantling , flight and displacement as well as the aspect of a new beginning. History emphasizes that the end of the war meant defeat for most Germans.

In the GDR , the liberation of the German people from Hitler fascism was celebrated in memory of May 8, 1945 as the day of liberation . This day was a public holiday from 1950 to 1966 and 1985.

Development of meaning

In particular since the speech given by Federal President Richard Weizsäcker on May 8, 1985 on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of the end of the war in Europe on the 40th anniversary of the end of the war in Europe and the National Socialist tyranny , some of the speeches in the early post-war period were no longer used for this event Terms of " capitulation " or "defeat", but the end of the dictatorship placed in the center. Von Weizsäcker also pointed out the ambiguity of the anniversary in his speech:

“We Germans celebrate the day among ourselves, and that is necessary. [...] We need and we have the strength to face truth as best we can, without glossing over and without one-sidedness. [...] May 8 is not a day for us Germans to celebrate. The people who have experienced it consciously think back to very personal and therefore very different experiences. One returned home, the other became homeless. This one was freed, for that one the captivity began. "

- Richard von Weizsäcker

While May 8 was described as a collapse or zero hour in the immediate post-war period, the political consensus today is to see May 8, 1945 above all as a day of liberation : “Today, nobody seriously denies that May 8, 1945 is was a day of liberation - the liberation from National Socialist rule, from genocide and the horror of war, ”emphasized the Chancellor of reunified Germany, Gerhard Schröder , on May 8, 2000.

“Today it is impossible to imagine the republic without May 8th as a day of remembrance [...]. Even in the 1990s, right-wing extremist circles in particular tried again and again to occupy May 8 with a political memory and to substitute defeat for liberation. However, these efforts could not prevail. "

- Federal Agency for Political Education

In Germany, the term liberation from National Socialism has since been at the core of the national culture of remembrance .

Historical discourse

In historical studies it is pointed out that the mass rapes by soldiers of the Red Army, the hunger and the new oppression in the Soviet occupation zone did not make the end of the Nazi regime and the war perceived as liberation. The Berlin historian Henning Köhler points out that it was not the goal of the victorious powers to liberate Germany. At best, the German population felt “relief” at the end of the war, which was “not a liberation”, but “the most comprehensive defeat, the greatest debacle in German history”. The historian Hans-Ulrich Wehler also considers it understandable “that the defeat and its consequences were perceived as a depressing catastrophe from the point of view of most German contemporaries”, but at the same time emphasizes that it is “undeniable” that “May 1945 was a liberation of the National Socialist dictatorship meant “. The head of the Berlin-Hohenschönhausen Memorial, Hubertus Knabe , warns that a distinction should be made between East and West Germany , since the citizens of the GDR only had the chance to build a democracy from 1989 onwards. Joseph Stalin made a decisive contribution to the defeat of National Socialism, but used the victory to strengthen his own dictatorship . The British historian Richard J. Evans comes to the conclusion that the end of the war in 1945 only looks like a liberation from today: For the overwhelming majority of Germans it was a definite defeat, which was a comparatively slow process that took several months.


See also

For the French point of view, see La Liberation .


Web links

Commons : Liberation from National Socialism  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. a b Federal Agency for Civic Education: Current background: May 8, 1945 (accessed on July 20, 2014)
  2. Documented on a page of the DHM .
  3. ^ Speech by Federal Chancellor Gerhard Schröder on the occasion of the opening of the exhibition "Jews in Berlin 1938–1945" in the Centrum Judaicum
  4. ^ Klaus Hildebrand , The Third Reich , 4th Edition, Oldenbourg, Munich 1991, p. 104.
  5. ^ Henning Köhler: Germany on the way to itself. A history of the century , Hohenheim-Verlag, Stuttgart 2002, p. 437f
  6. Hans-Ulrich Wehler, German history of society , vol. 4: From the beginning of the First World War to the establishment of the two German states 1914–1949 CH Beck Verlag, Munich 2003, p. 941f
  7. Hubertus Knabe: Day of Liberation? The end of the war in East Germany , Propylaea 2005, ISBN 3-549-07245-7 .
  8. ^ Richard J. Evans: The Third Reich. Vol. III: War . Deutsche Verlagsanstalt, Munich 2009, p. 920.
  9. , April 22, 2015, Christiane Habermalz: A time of great upheaval
  10. , April 22, 2015, Paul Stänner: Attacked , suppressed, liberated
  11. , April 24, 2015, Burkhard Birke: A girl without childhood