BERLIN — The Allied victory in World War II 65 years ago was a "liberation for all," even though it took many Germans some time to acknowledge that, German parliament president Norbert Lammert said Friday.
It was only those who suffered directly from the Nazi terror who realized immediately they had been freed, Lammert said in a tribute in parliament to the end of the war in Europe on May 8, 1945 — known as Victory Europe Day.
"For many others it took a long time for the certainty to come through: It was a day of liberation for all," said Lammert, a member of Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservative Christian Democratic Union.
Nazi Germany surrendered to Allied forces on May 8, 1945, after six years of war started by Adolf Hitler with an attack on Poland in September 1939.
The Russian Embassy commemorated the date in Berlin on Friday with youth groups and veterans visiting the memorials to the Red Army fighters in the center of the German capital. Thousands of Soviet soldiers were killed in the final days of the war in the bitter fight for Berlin.
Lammert said even after fighting ended, suffering did not. For some it was only after the war that the suffering began because they were prisoners of war, because they were displaced from their homes or because they ended up in the East German dictatorship.
But the Germans born after the war can more easily discern cause and consequence than the people at the time, he said.
"This war was started by Germany, and it had horrific consequences even in the homeland," he said.
Germany was occupied and separated into four parts after the war. The western sectors occupied by the United States, Britain and France became the Federal Republic of Germany in 1949, while the Soviet Sector became the German Democratic Republic. The country was reunified in 1990.