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February 1, 2007

GWA-IGAR Letter to Ambassador Wolff

The Honorable
Ambassador Alejandro D. Wolff
Acting US Permanent Representative
to the United Nations
Permanent Mission of the United States
140 East 45th Street
New York, New York 10017
fax 212 415-4053

re: Rememering the victims of all genocides

Dear Ambassador Wolff,

The Institute of German-American Relations and the German World Alliance applaud the efforts of the United States and Germany to ensure that future generations are protected from ethnic cleansing and genocide.

We wish to recall the statement by President-elect George W. Bush in November 2000 to the International Ethnic Cleansing Conference at Duquesne University in Pittsburg in which he unequivocally condemned ethnic cleansing, including the expulsion of 15 million Germans from East Prussia, Pomerania, East Brandenburg, Silesia, Bohemia, Moravia, Hungary and Yugoslavia and the end of WW II -- a process than over two million innocent German civilians did not survive. (Published in Steven Vardy/Hunt Tooley (eds.) "Ethnic Cleansing in 20th Century Europe" Columbia University Press, 2003).

Genocide remembrance is important to all us. Indeed, all people and all States have a vital stake in a world free of ethnic cleansing and genocide. We all have a stake in and a responsibility to remember the victims: the Armenians, the Assyrian-Christians, the Greeks of Pontos and Smyrna, the European Jews, the expelled Germans, the expelled Greeks from Northern Cyprus, the Cambonians, the Rwandans, the beleaguered women and children of Darfur.

It is also of vital important that the freedom to conduct research and to express opinions on these matters be guaranteed. No one is served by laws that penalize "Holocaust denial" or the denial of the Armenian genocide. Unfettered discussion is crucial -- and neither should lawyers legislate on history, nor judges condemn persons for expressing their views. History is for historians, not for lawyers, and a historical view on the Armenian genocide on the Holocaust or on the ethnic cleansing of the Germans should not be allowed to become dogma.

We deplore the Holocaust, as we deplore the Armenian genocide, as we deplore the ethnic cleansing of the East European Germans 1944-50. But it must always remain possible for the general public to express opinions on these matters without fear of prosecution. The First Amendment to the United States Constitution and articles 18 and 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights guarantee freedom of opinion and freedom of expression, which are cornerstones of every democratic society.

The late Ambassador Robert Murphy, a participant at the Potsdam Conference in his capacity as Political Advisor to General Eisenhower, condemned the expulsion of the Germans in 1945 and compared it with the Holocaust.
General Eisenhower himself protested against the savagery of the expulsion in telegrams to Washington in October 1945. As Murphy wrote in the preface to the book "Nemesis at Potsdam" by Professor Alfred de Zayas (Routledge 1977, new edition Picton 2003) "It was advertised that the transfers should be made under 'humane' conditions. There were no controls or authoritative supervision, so that the individual refugee had no recourse or protection.

It is true, that the United States State Department voiced proper regard for the humanities, but its voice was not vigorous or even heard in Eastern Europe at the time of the expulsion. Few Americans dreamt of a brutal expulsion affecting perhaps 16 million persons!"

Dear Ambassador Wolff, if we want to free the world from genocide, it is important that we remember them all. Thus, in your public statements, please remember the Armenians, please remember the German expellees. As the first UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Dr. Jose Ayala Lasso, said to the German expellees on 28 May 1995 in Frankfurt a.M. "Indeed, all victims of war and injustice deserve our respect and compassion, since every individual human life is precious. It is our duty to continue our endavours in the name of the dignitas humana."

Respectfully yours,

Dr. Marianne Bouvier
Dr. Kearn Schemm
GWA
IGAR

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