Dear readers of the Newsletter of the German Consulate General in Vancouver,
The year 2023 is drawing to a close and when we look back the balance is not very pleasant. The Russian war of aggression against Ukraine is still waging with mounting ferocity and no one knows when this war will come to an end with a just and lasting peace. Putin and his cronies still hope for a change of mind in the free and democratic world; we have to do everything in our power that they will not prevail.
The barbaric attack on Israel and the hostage-taking of innocent people by the terrorists of Hamas was a shock for all of us and the stories we hear from the liberated hostages fuel our horror even more. These terrorists must be brought down for the sake of all peace-loving people in the region.
In Canada, we experienced the fiercest wildfire season ever and its effects were felt all over the country and beyond, even in areas where there were no burning forests. Our thoughts are with all the people who lost loved ones or whose material existence was destroyed by the flames. No one knows what will happen next year during the fire season but one thing is clear: we all have to work together to combat climate change and to cope with its effects.
For Germany, it was a difficult year as well. The economic turmoil continues and the recent verdict of the Federal Constitutional Court declaring the budget unconstitutional has not made things easier.
2023 was also a year when we commemorated some historic events in Germany. 105 years ago on the 9th of November 1918, the last German Emperor abdicated and the first German Republic was proclaimed. 100 years ago, also on November 9th, Hitler tried to topple the Weimar Republic by means of the Beer Hall Putsch. Fortunately, the Republic survived this difficult year, which brought the occupation of the Rhineland by French and Belgian forces, a hyperinflation and finally Hitler’s failed coup. In this year, the Weimar Republic showed a remarkable strength to defend democracy. Unfortunately, it only lasted for ten more years until, in 1933, 90 years ago, Hitler took power and brought the first German democracy to an end. Five years later, again on the 9th of November, the Nazi hordes reached the nadir of abomination when they burned synagogues, Jewish shops and houses and killed hundreds of innocent Jews in the so-called “Reichspogromnacht”. We all know where it ended: in the bloodiest and most cruel war humankind has ever seen, the murder of more than six million Jews and a Germany which left the circle of civilized nations.
Much has changed since then, fortunately for the better. Next year we will celebrate the 75th anniversary of the Basic Constitutional Law. It was designed to be a constitution for all Germans but our brethren in Eastern Germany had to wait another 40 years until they also could enjoy freedom, democracy and the rule of law. This constitution is something Germans can be proud of and we will certainly celebrate this important anniversary together with our Canadian friends.
This weekend marks the beginning of Advent, the lighting of candles to symbolically illuminate the darkest time of the year until Christmas signifies the beginning of a new era of light and hope. My colleagues at the Consulate General and I wish you a quiet and peaceful Holiday Season and a healthy and happy New Year.