Germany is marking 80 years since the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union. The surprise attack on June 22, 1941, would become the biggest and bloodiest front in World War Two, and end in Nazi Germany’s complete destruction. By the end of the war, an estimated 27 million Soviet citizens had died, including fourteen million civilians. From the beginning, “Operation Barbarossa,” as the invasion was called, was conducted as a war of annihilation. The Germans also treated Soviet prisoners of war brutally. The Nazis took some 5,7 million Soviet prisoners of war over the course of four years. They were executed, starved, or died on forced marches from the frontlines. It’s estimated that more than three million Soviet POWs died, making them one of the largest groups of Nazi victims.
And Germany’s president has been marking that somber anniversary in Berlin. Frank-Walter Steinmeier attended a ceremony at the German-Russian museum in the capital. In his speech, Steinmeier addressed criticism from former Soviet Republics, like Ukraine and Belarus, that their millions of victims in World War II were neglected by Germany in the commemoration activities.
President Steinmeier warned that acts of remembrance, if not carried out carefully, could themselves lead to new divisions.
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