It is rare to have so many politicians from the highest offices of state and other prominent personalities together at one event in Germany. The security measures are correspondingly strict.

On the 75th anniversary of the Basic Law, Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier prepared the people of Germany for more difficult times and at the same time invoked their will to assert themselves. At a state ceremony in Berlin, he called for people to defend the achievements of freedom and democracy against their enemies. “Our democracy is resilient. Anyone who fights our liberal democracy today must know that this time they are dealing with a fighting democracy and with fighting democrats,” said Steinmeier.

The Federal President emphasized: “It is clear to me: we are living in a time of testing. There are rough, even tougher years ahead of us. The answer to this cannot and should not be faintheartedness or self-doubt.” It would also be wrong to dream of a more comfortable past or to daily swear that the country will collapse. This is just paralyzing. “We have to assert ourselves now – with realism, with ambition. That is the task of time. Self-assertion is the task of our time!”

Here you can read the speech of the Federal President in the ticker protocol:

12.50 p.m.: The mothers and fathers of the Basic Law would have known how violence undermines a democracy. “They had seen how the Germans ruined their first democracy.” It takes “courage to show intolerance towards those who want to use democracy to kill them,” Steinmeier quotes Carlo Schmid, one of the fathers of the Basic Law.

12.47 p.m.: In his speech, the Federal President also addressed the violence against politicians, which has been making headlines more and more recently. He has met many “who have given up, who can no longer tolerate insults and vilification. But our democracy – especially in cities and towns – needs people who take responsibility, who keep their place lovable and worth living in.”

12.43 p.m.: Trust in democratic institutions is important, says Steinmeier. “In an increasingly polarized society in which only “those down there” talk about “those up there,” this trust is dwindling.

12.40 p.m.: “It’s actually strange: we all talk, chat, post, email more and more, on all channels, day and night. And yet more and more people have the impression that they are not being heard and not understood.”

12.38 p.m.: There will be more arguments rather than fewer in the next few years, warns the Federal President. “Climate change, social security and economic crisis” have to be mastered.

12.36 p.m.: Steinmeier warns of the “aggressor Putin”. “The threat that Russia poses to us will not simply disappear. Nobody knows better than Ukraine: Those who love freedom must not give in to the aggressor. And no one knows when Putin’s hunger for power will be satisfied.”

12.35 p.m.: Self-assertion is the task of the time, said the Federal President. “I am firmly convinced that it is also wrong to conjure up the downfall of our country on a daily basis. All of this is paralyzing and doesn’t get us anywhere. We must now assert ourselves – with realism and ambition.”

12.34 p.m.: But we must recognize that we live in a changed reality. “After decades of more prosperity, more democracy, more Europe, more peace, the happiness of German unity, we are now experiencing an epochal break. With Russia’s brutal attack on Ukraine, war has returned to Europe.”

12.32 p.m.: Today his pride is mixed with unease – “if anti-Semitism continues to increase, hatred of those who think differently becomes commonplace,” said Steinmeier.

12.30 p.m.: “For almost 35 years, our constitution has proven itself in our reunified country. We have grown together – into a country that is much more than the sum of two parts. We celebrate together because we belong together!”

12.28 p.m.: When people in East Germany asked him what this Basic Law had to do with them, it hurt him, said the Federal President.

12:27 p.m.: “It was precisely for these freedoms that they stood up in 1953 and then in their hundreds of thousands in 1989. We owe it to them and their courage that our country, which has been divided and torn apart for decades, was able to become one again.”

12:26 p.m.: Steinmeier also celebrates 35 years of the Peaceful Revolution and the fall of the Berlin Wall: “It may be a historical coincidence that these two anniversaries coincide. But it’s a happy coincidence.”

12.24 p.m.: The Federal President acknowledges the “fixed star: that big, brilliant sentence in Article 1. “Human dignity is inviolable.” This sentence has lost none of its meaning. None of his power. It is a categorical imperative of our constitutional order and a moral obligation at the same time.”

12:22 p.m.: “The tortured at Dachau and Buchenwald, the murdered at Auschwitz, the fallen at Stalingrad, the millions of dead in Europe, they should not be forgotten. Never again should a state be used for such crimes. The state should be there for the people – not the other way around. Never again: That must guide us today too!” The Basic Law was a departure into a brighter future, said Steinmeier.

12.20 p.m.: The Federal President thinks that “this basic law was never created to last forever” and that it should be a temporary measure, says Steinmeier. The Basic Law is now “one of the oldest constitutions in the world and has become a model for many constitutions”.

12.18 p.m.: He thanks “those who gave us the foundation of a new, free and democratic order. And we thank those who defeated the dictatorship 35 years ago and made democracy possible throughout Germany.”

12.16 p.m.: Steinmeier welcomes everyone present “here, in the heart of Berlin, close to the Reichstag, a place that stands like no other for the eventful history of our country, but above all has also written the history of democracy.

12.14 p.m.: Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier now takes the lectern. He is the only speaker at today’s ceremony.

11:58 a.m.: Parachutists with German and European flags sail in the Berlin sky.

11:52 a.m.: Police helicopters are circling over the event site. A total of 1,000 police officers protect the state ceremony in Berlin.

11.48 a.m.: Economics Minister Habeck walks on the red carpet together with former Chancellor Merkel.

11.44 a.m.: The guests of the state ceremony are currently arriving. Chancellor Scholz is taking part in the event with his wife, and former Chancellor Schröder is also there.

The major state act on the 75th anniversary of the Basic Law was secured by numerous police officers in downtown Berlin. A total of around 1,000 police officers were on duty around the government district on Thursday, said a spokeswoman. The water police were traveling in boats on the Spree. The police used a helicopter to take aerial photos. The Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA) and special operations teams (SEK) from the Berlin State Criminal Police Office and Lower Saxony were also involved.

Support for the police came from other federal states such as Bavaria, Hamburg and Saxony-Anhalt. Many streets were closed to traffic. Drivers had to expect disruptions. The situation was very calm and relaxed in the morning, said the police spokeswoman.

Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier ordered the state ceremony on the anniversary of the Basic Law, and he also gives the central speech. A total of 1,100 guests were expected on the square in front of the Chancellery. These include Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD), most of the ministers, many prime ministers of the federal states as well as representatives of the Bundestag and other institutions.

A large area at Alexanderplatz had been closed since the morning because of the service in St. Mary’s Church that accompanied the state ceremony. Police officers stood at barriers. The area between the Federal Chancellery and the Bundestag buildings opposite was also cordoned off. Driveways and entrances were strictly controlled.

From Friday to Sunday, a democracy festival will take place in the government district, to which the federal government invites citizens.