Speech by EP President Martin Schulz to commemorate the Marzabotto massacre during World War II
"Today I stand before you not only as the President of the European Parliament but also as a German whose response to the brutality and inhumanity, the murders committed here by Germans, is a sense of deep distress and shame. It is difficult to find the right words to express my feelings, my sorrow.
On 29 September 1944, SS executioners committed a brutal massacre of the civilian population here in Marzabotto, one of the worst war crimes of the Second World War. SS units cruelly killed 800 people - women, children and older people. The SS men forced their way into houses, schools and churches, shot their victims, threw hand grenades into houses and set fire to churches. The few survivors escaped death because they were buried under piles of corpses or managed to hide. Their suffering is beyond imagination.
Present-day Germans are not personally to blame, but they do bear a heavy responsibility. They have a responsibility to keep the memory alive and ensure that it should never be forgotten that what happened was done in the name of our nation.
Today I wish to commemorate the victims and their immense suffering. I also wish to thank you for preserving the memory of the victims. And because you have proved, by means of the Peace School where young people from Italy and Germany meet, that even after the foulest crimes, understanding and friendship are possible. Marzabotto is a symbol of the brutal Nazi dictatorship. Thanks to you and your attitude, Marzabotto has also become a symbol of forgiveness and shared responsibility for the future.
The fact that I, the son of a soldier in the German Army whose unit occupied the former Soviet Union, can now address you as the representative of a multinational parliamentary assembly, that we Germans and Italians can come together to remember these atrocities, shows that the dream of Europe has become a reality. We owe our Europe partly to German and Italian statesmen such as Alcide de Gasperi and Konrad Adenauer, Sandro Pertini and Willy Brandt. They had the courage to build a new Europe on the ruins of a continent maimed and devastated by war. They succeeded in establishing peace between peoples by means of the integration of States. We have a duty to honour and protect this legacy.
Peace needs to be fought for afresh every day. We must be on the alert every day to oppose any resurgence of the murderous ideology which led to these inhuman deeds. I am very aware of this responsibility both as a German and as the President of a multinational parliamentary assembly. I am proud to know that here I am among friends with whom I stand shoulder to shoulder in this battle for democracy, humanity and tolerance. I join you in your vow: No more war, no more Fascism!"
For further information:
Raffaella De MartePress OfficerMobile: +32 485 54 51 60