State ceremony in Berlin: Steinmeier sees “harder years” coming

State ceremony in Berlin: Steinmeier sees “harder years” coming

More political prominence is hardly possible: the top of the state gathers to celebrate the Basic Law. The Federal President calls on the Democrats to stand together. There are also goosebumps moments.

On the 75th anniversary of the Basic Law, Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier prepared the people of Germany for more difficult times and at the same time called on them to assert themselves. At a state ceremony in Berlin, he called on people to defend the achievements of freedom and democracy against their enemies.

“Our democracy is capable of defending itself. Anyone who fights against our liberal democracy today must know that this time they are dealing with a militant democracy and with militant democrats,” said Steinmeier.

A country in a time of testing

The Federal President emphasized: “It is clear to me: We are living in a time of testing. There are rough, even tougher years ahead of us. The answer to this cannot and must not be faintheartedness or self-doubt.” It would also be wrong to dream of a more comfortable past or to daily swear that the country will collapse. This is just paralyzing. “We have to assert ourselves now – with realism, with ambition. That is the task of the time. Self-assertion is the task of our time!”

In this context, Steinmeier pointed to the threat posed by Russia. Nobody knows when Kremlin chief Vladimir Putin’s hunger for power will be satisfied. For him, it is imperative: “We must do more for our security. We must invest in our defense. We must strengthen our alliance. And we need the financial means to do so.” But a strong society is also needed. “A strong society that knows the value of freedom and is prepared to confront threats to freedom, that knows its cohesion.” Military security and social resilience belong together.

Climate change, social security and the economic crisis are also enormous tasks. From Steinmeier’s perspective, all of these challenges trigger conflicts. “We have to prepare ourselves for this: we won’t have fewer arguments in the next few years, perhaps more. The fight for financial resources will become tougher, and with it of course the fight over what is important.”

Call for cooperation and private commitment

Steinmeier called on the democratic parties to work together when the common whole is affected or threatened. “The unity of the democrats – this is what is needed when democracy is under attack.” At the same time, Steinmeier spread confidence: “I am firmly convinced that we will survive this testing period.”

The Federal President made it clear that he now sees not only those politically responsible as having a duty. “What we need now are citizens who do not say ‘What do I care?’, but who say ‘I care.'” There are many millions of them in our country.

The entire state leadership at the state ceremony

The heads of the five constitutional bodies took part in the outdoor state ceremony between the Reichstag and the Chancellery. In addition to the Federal President, these are the Presidents of the Bundestag, Bundesrat and Federal Constitutional Court – Bärbel Bas (SPD), Manuela Schwesig (SPD) and Stephan Harbarth – as well as Federal Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD). Among the approximately 1,100 guests were former Chancellors Gerhard Schröder (SPD) and Angela Merkel (CDU) as well as former Federal President Joachim Gauck. Around 1,000 police officers ensured security and traffic management.

Steinmeier was repeatedly interrupted by applause during his speech. Afterwards, the guests at the state ceremony gave him a standing ovation.

Goosebumps moment with Margot Friedländer

Steinmeier praised the Basic Law as a “great gift” for Germany after the National Socialist tyranny. “I am convinced that this constitution is one of the best that Germany has produced.” The central sentence in Article 1 – “Human dignity is inviolable.” – the Federal President called it a “fixed star”. The guests experienced a moment of goosebumps when 102-year-old Holocaust survivor Margot Friedländer, who narrowly escaped death in a concentration camp, quoted this very sentence in a short, well-rehearsed sequence.

Other celebrities cited other basic rights, for example the journalist Jessy Wellmer cited Article 5 (“Freedom of the press and freedom of reporting through radio and film are guaranteed”), the Ghanaian-born chef Nelson Müller cited Article 3 (“All people are equal before the law”) and the entrepreneur Michael Otto cited Article 14 (“Property entails obligations. Its use should also serve the common good.”)

Remembering 35 years of the Peaceful Revolution

In his speech, Steinmeier also recalled the Peaceful Revolution in the GDR 35 years ago, which ultimately led to the Basic Law, which until then only applied in West Germany, becoming the constitution for the whole of Germany. “The Basic Law and the Peaceful Revolution, they created the second German democracy, or I should say, they made us what we are today. We celebrate together because we belong together.”

Katharina Thalbach and Andreja Schneider gave a subtle hint that in 1989/90 many things did not go as the people in East Germany had imagined. They concluded a musical journey through time from 1949 to 1989 with Bertolt Brecht’s children’s anthem – which many East Germans would have liked to see as the new national anthem for all of Germany. In vain. And so the state ceremony ended with “Unity and Justice and Freedom”.

Source: Stern

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