German President Joachim Gauck has expressed his sorrow in recalling the atrocities of the war Germany was waging against the Soviet Union and extended sympathy to the survivors of the siege of Leningrad in a letter sent to the Russian president on the occasion of the 70th anniversary since the breaking of the siege of Leningrad.
"The thoughts about the destructive war Nazi Germany was waging against the Soviet Union are causing me to feel only deep sorrow and shame. The siege of Leningrad was particularly horrible," according to the letter, which was posted on the website of the German Consulate General in St. Petersburg on Monday.
The German Bundestag is also dedicating a special January 27 event commemorating victims of National Socialism (Nazism) to those killed and affected during the siege of Leningrad, Gauck said.
"Germany is aware of its historical responsibility for the sufferings caused to the people of Leningrad, and for the atrocious war led by German soldiers, operative groups and SS subdivisions. I want to say this to you and your people: we share the pain of loss and sympathize with those who survived and are still reeling from the effects of the war," the president said.
The task of the German people is to preserve the memory about the sufferings the Germans caused to the Russians, Gauck said.
World War II left deep wounds in the relationship between our countries, he said. "Preserving the memory of the suffering that the Germans caused to the Russians remains our task. But this memory is also helping us particularly appreciate every step in German-Russian reconciliation. We owe to the noble and magnanimous people, in that, we can look each other in the eye again and meet with good intentions," the German president said.
"…Mutual understanding builds new bridges. Truthfulness and love for people can overcome hatred and animosity. It is in this spirit that we want to build further a common Europe with all our strength," Gauck said.