Side by Side


Standing Against Terror - Standing With the United States of America


Standing Against Terror - Standing With the United States of America

Address by Federal President Johannes Rau
September 14, 2001

No one knows better than the people of Berlin what America has done for freedom and democracy in Germany. We would not be able to stand here at the Brandenburg Gate this evening had America not supported us over many years and in difficult times.

Thus today from Berlin we say to all Americans:

America does not stand alone. The whole world stands at this time at the side of the great American nation. The German people stands at the side of the American people. We are bound by friendship, we are bound by the same values, we are bound by our love of freedom.

Here in Berlin we remember American aid after the war, the defence of the freedom of Berlin and America's great contribution to German unity.

I particularly welcome all Americans who live with us in Berlin and all over Germany or who are visiting. In these difficult days their thoughts are at home.

As Germans our thoughts and our feelings also go out to America. We all still have the dreadful pictures in our heads. We cannot get them out of our minds. We have all become witnesses to murderous acts of violence such as the world has never before experienced outside times of war.

We think of the mothers and fathers who have lost their children.

We think of the children who will never see their parents again.

We think of all those who have lost friends and colleagues.

We think of the immeasurable suffering that hatred and terror has brought to many thousands of families all across the country.

The murderers' targets were in New York and Washington. But all people all over the world have been stricken. The victims include people from Asia, from Australia and from Europe, from Africa and from America. The attack targeted the entire world community.

We stand united here in solidarity. We stand together against hatred and violence.

Particularly in Berlin, John F. Kennedy is unforgotten. In his first speech as American President, he described America's solidarity with us Europeans thus:

"To those old allies whose cultural and spiritual origins we share, we pledge the loyalty of faithful friends. United there is little we cannot do in a host of cooperative ventures. Divided there is little we can do - for we dare not meet a powerful challenge at odds and split asunder."

Today I say as German Federal President and today we all say: America, too, can rely upon this loyalty of a faithful friend.

Many people are afraid at this time. I understand that.

This fear must not cripple us. The rage which many feel, the powerlessness which is so difficult to bear, must not make us descend into panic.

The murderers and those who incited them are difficult to find and yet more difficult to combat. But no matter who they are, they are murderers, nothing else - and therefore they must be punished. They do not stand for a people, they do not stand for a religion, they do not stand for a culture. Fanaticism destroys every culture. Fundamentalism does not bear witness to faith, rather is its arch-enemy.

We will not and must not allow ourselves to be led by anyone into condemning entire religions or entire peoples or entire cultures as guilty. But those who sink to associate with the murderers - for whatever reason - those who offer them protection and assistance make themselves as culpable as the murderers.

We will not react to the challenge with powerlessness or with weakness, rather with strength and determination. And with circumspection. Hatred must not lead us into hatred. Hatred blinds. Nothing is so difficult to build and nothing so easy to destroy as peace.

We have to combat terrorism and we will defeat it.

We need great staying power to do so. Whoever wants to truly overcome terrorism must ensure through political action that the ground is cut from below the feet of the prophets of violence.

Poverty and exploitation, misery and lack of rights drive people to despair. The disregard of religious feelings and cultural traditions robs people of hope and dignity.

This leads some to violence and terror. This sows hatred even in the hearts of children.

All people have the right to respect and dignity.

Those who experience respect in their lives and love their lives will not want to throw it away. Those who live in dignity and confidence will hardly become a suicide attacker.

Determined action is the order of the day. Because we know and demonstrate that because we leave no doubt about it, we say the best protection against terror, violence and war is a just international order. Peace will be the fruit of justice.

That is a laborious process. It takes a long time and costs more than just time. But for us a more peaceful, secure world has to be worth it. For us and the children of our world.

We have seen apocalyptic pictures. They must rouse us so that peace can make new ground. Freedom needs the strong power of peace and freedom is part of peace.

We have all reason to be vigilant, but no reason to panic. Above all else we need carefully considered action.

Our common goal is peace and security, justice and freedom for all people, no matter where they live.

John F. Kennedy remarked in his day, "Our goal is not the victory of might, but the vindication of right".

If we, the nations of the world, stand united, terror will not triumph.