Genocide in Ukraine and German historical responsibility
Open letter to the German Government and the Bundestag: Russian warfare fulfils the central characteristics of genocide. Germany must fulfil its “Responsibility to Protect”.
Dear Ladies and Gentlemen
we would like to draw your attention to the letter which renowned historians, experts in international law and public figures have addressed to the Bundestag and the German Government.
In response to the crimes of Nazi Germany, the United Nations General Assembly in 1948 adopted the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Genocide. The Convention obliges the international community to take preventive action to avert the danger of genocide and to protect threatened civilian populations.
At present, a war of extermination is taking place before our eyes against the people of Ukraine, which bears all the hallmarks of genocide.
The letter’s signatories call on the Bundestag and the German Government to live up to their “Responsibility to Protect”.
Furthermore, lawmakers and the government should ensure that those responsible for wars of aggression and genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity are held accountable.
What is the sense in the German “Never Again” mantra if we do not do everything in our might to stop the genocide in Ukraine – a country where the Wehrmacht and the SS committed horrific crimes during World War II.
Marieluise Beck & Ralf Fücks
Open letter to the Federal Government and the Bundestag
SAVE UKRAINIANS FROM GENOCIDE
Nobody can say we didn’t know
Ladies and Gentlemen, Dear Members of Parliament,
In response to the crimes of the Nazis, the international community came together in 1948 and negotiated the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Genocide.
Whoever holds a political mandate in Germany has got a special obligation to protect this core of international criminal law. Otherwise, the German vow of “never again” would lose any meaning. The German acts of aggression, the Genocide of the European Jews, the horrific war crimes and crimes against humanity against the Slavic population in Eastern Europe during the Second World War put a heavy onus on the German people to do everything in their power to prevent those crimes in the future. Not by accident did Ukrainian-Jewish associations turn to Germany for protection when the Russian war of aggression began on February 24.
Today we are confronted with a war of extermination in the middle of Europe, which shows all the characteristics of genocide.
Article II of the United Nations Genocide Convention defines genocide as acts committed with the intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial or religious group as such. The Convention obligates the international community to take preventive action to avert the threat of genocide and to protect the threatened civilian population.
A current jurisprudential study by the renowned Wallenberg Centre for Human Rights and the New Lines Institute for Strategy & Policy meticulously demonstrates that Russian warfare bears the central characteristics of an intended genocide. These include:
- Threats of extermination and systematic incitement to acts of violence against the Ukrainian civilian population by Russian officials and state media.
- Negation of an independent national identity of Ukraine.
- Dehumanization and demonization of the Ukrainian nation (“fascists,” “scum,” “beasts”)
- Mass killing (execution) of civilians.
- Targeted attacks against shelters (for example, in the theatre of Mariupol) and escape routes of the civilian population.
- Bombardment of purely residential neighborhoods with heavy artillery, rockets and air strikes.
- Targeted destruction of life-sustaining civilian infrastructure (hospitals, energy, and water supplies).
- Cutting off humanitarian corridors of besieged cities.
- Attacks on food supplies for the population.
- Multiple acts of unpunished rape and other forms of sexual violence.
- Deportation of about one million Ukrainians from the occupied territories to Russia, among them about 200,000 children.
- Systematic banishment of Ukrainian culture and language in the Russian-occupied territories (“Deukrainization”).
In light of these most serious crimes, we call on the German Bundestag and the Federal Government to live up to their “Responsibility to Protect”. This means doing everything in our power to strengthen Ukraine’s self-defense, including the continued supply of heavy weapons, and to stop Russia’s war of annihilation.
Given the uninhibited violence of the Russian occupying power, any speculation on a “territorial compromise” that would leave Russia in control of the conquered territories is simply irresponsible. It would be a nail in the coffin for international law and the European security order if losses of territory due to the crime of aggression committed by Russia and its corresponding massive war crimes were de facto accepted.
We also call on the Federal Government and the Bundestag to provide personnel and financial support for securing evidence and punishing the horrific crimes committed by Russia. Those responsible for acts of aggression and genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity must be held accountable.
Prof. Timothy Garton Ash
Prof. Jan Claas Behrends
Prof. Wolfgang Eichwede
Prof. Otto Luchterhandt
Prof. Georg Milbradt
Prof. Dr. Tanja Penter
Prof. Karl Schlögel
Prof. Martin Schulze Wessel
Prof. Timothy Snyder
Prof. Christian Tomuschat