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UK, US Ambassadors on the End of WWII

DW staff (sp)May 8, 2005

The US' highest representative in Germany, John Cloud, and British Ambassador Sir Peter Torry spoke to DW-WORLD about the significance of the end of WWII for their countries as well as relations with Germany today.


DW-WORLD asked the US chargé d'affaires in Germany, John Cloud, three questions about World War II and its consequences.

DW-WORLD: What is the significance of the end of World War II for the United States today?

John Cloud: The architects of the postwar transatlantic alliance shaped the course of US diplomacy and the entire international system. The resulting NATO and the Marshall Plan provided military security, economic development and regional reform, and advanced international cooperation. The United Nations also arose out of this experience. Building on this foundation, it is now up to Europe and the United States to jointly promote freedom beyond the Euro-Atlantic area, and help the world face the other new challenged that are arising. As Secretary of State Rice said, "This is a moment of incredible possibility for human liberty, greater than at any other time since World War II."

What political conclusions does the United States draw from World War II today? Do the United States' experiences of the Second World War influence the country's foreign policy, and if so, how?

One of the lessons the world learned from World War II was that peaceful nations cannot close their eyes or sit idly by in the face of genocide. It took the most terrible war in history to end the horrors of the Holocaust. We confronted the devastation and the anguish of World War II with the ideals of freedom, tolerance and pluralism. Today the concepts of open political discourse and dialogue are more important than ever before.

Sixty years after the war, how do you view Germany today? How does the Second World War influence politics in the United States, particularly in relation to Germany in 2005?

The German-American relationship in the second half of the 20th century was a unique and extraordinary accomplishment. Few nations have the capacity of Germany to join with the United States to address the challenges of the 21st century. With a renewed spirit of purpose, compromise, unity and agreement, our joint commitment to make this world a safer and better place is a very appropriate commemoration of the Second World War.

Chargé d'Affaires ad interim John A. Cloud
John A. Cloud, who has served as the deputy chief of mission at the United States Embassy in Berlin since July 2003, became chargé d'affaires ad interim upon the departure of Ambassador Daniel R. Coats on February 28, 2005.Image: US Embassy

The British ambassador to Germany, Sir Peter Torry, answered the same questions in relation to his country and British-German relations 60 years after the end of the World War II.

DW-WORLD: What is the significance of the end of World War II for Britain today?

Sir Peter Torry: We remember all those who died between September 1939 and May 1945. We pay tribute to the hundreds of thousand of Allied soldiers, sailors and airmen who gave their lives so that others might live and so that freedom, peace and democracy could once more flourish and grow in Europe. The suffering and the sacrifices that were needed to rid the world of the Nazi dictatorship should never be forgotten. But at the same time we should be proud of what we have achieved in the past 60 years. Former enemies have become close partners and friends. The relationship between Britain and Germany has never been better. NATO and the EU have made war inconceivable and brought prosperity and justice to Europe. Germany today has nothing in common with Germany of 1945.

What political conclusions does Britain draw from World War II today? Do Britain's experiences of the Second World War influence the country's foreign policy, and if so, how?

When the war ended, the overwhelming feeling in Britain as well as in Germany can be described as "Never Again." The main thrust of our British foreign policy since 1945 has been to avoid the terrible mistakes of the early 20th century and to build genuine stability and security in Europe. That has been the great achievement of the EU and NATO. The fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 brought democracy to Eastern Europe. EU and NATO enlargement has helped cement this. We can never be complacent -- the civil war in Yugoslavia showed us that -- but we are near to achieving our historic goal of a Europe that is democratic, prosperous and at peace. Our work is not yet over however. Many lessons of the Second World War -- that dictatorship cannot be appeased, that the best protection against war is the expansion of democracy -- still apply in many other parts of the world. The other main conclusion that we draw from WWII is that a strong and close transatlantic relationship is essential. The US has been essential for European security in the last 60 years. We must ensure that this relationship remains strong.

Sixty years after the war, how do you view Germany today? How does the Second World War influence politics in Britain, particularly in relation to Germany in 2005?

I view Germany very positively. Germany now is a very different country to the Germany of 1945. Germany and Britain are natural partners and we work increasingly closely together. 350,000 British people work for German companies in the UK. A booming British economy is one of Germany's largest export markets. The UK is the biggest investor in the euro zone. The Arsenal football team has a German goalkeeper. A British conductor leads the Berlin Philharmonic. Thousands of Germans and British visit each others' country every year. Our soldiers stand together in Kosovo and Afghanistan. The war is naturally not forgotten in Britain. Nor should it be. But it has no influence on British politics. Some British perceptions of Germany are still colored by the war. How could it be otherwise? But I repeat: the relationship today is one of friends and allies: it has never been better.

Sir Peter Torry
The British ambassador to Germany, Sir Peter Torry