German President Joachim Gauck, speaking at Berlin’s Soviet War Memorial on Wednesday 22nd June 2016, acclaimed the Russian victims of Germany’s Operation Barbarossa, 75 years after the event occurred.
On the 22nd June 1941, Nazi forces launched Operation Barbarossa, their Eastern offensive, against Russia. This disastrous campaign for the Nazis was intended to rapidly cut through the Soviet forces and oust the government of Stalin. This drawn out and brutal campaign resulted in massive losses for both sides as well as devastating the civilian population and ensured that the Soviet Union joined the Allied cause.
Gauck told the audience:
“No country had as many victims in World War II as the Soviet Union. Nearly 27 million people lost their lives. Hitler and his henchmen, supported by countless Germans, wanted the destruction of the Soviet Union, the enslavement of its people, and the plundering of its land.”
The latest exhibit displayed on the Potsdamer Platz in Berlin has its main focus on Operation Barbarossa and the crimes committed by both sides. Gauck emphasized the role played by the Soviets in defeating the Nazi menace and said that the Soviet Union, “played an irreplaceable and unforgettable role in defeating National Socialism.”
He was also careful that he underline the value of peace, saying:
“The anniversary of the invasion of the Soviet Union serves as another reminder of the importance of peace. Peace is not a given.”