The Rt. Hon. Sir John Major KG CH

Prime Minister of Great Britain and Northern Ireland 1990-1997

1995Prime Minister (1990-1997)

Mr Major’s Speech at the Memorial Complex at Poklonnaya Gora – 9 May 1995

Below is Mr Major’s speech at the opening of the Memorial Complex at Poklonnaya Gora on Tuesday 9th May 1995.


Mr President,

Fifty years ago in Berlin Marshal Zhukov and his British, American and French colleagues accepted the capitulation of the Nazi regime. The war in Europe was over.

This new memorial complex reminds us of the losses of the Soviet peoples in that war. Their sacrifices were on a scale it is still hard to grasp today. The civilian losses in Leningrad alone exceeded the total British military losses for the whole war.

The British poet W H Auden wrote:

“To save your world you asked this man to die:

Would this man, could he see you now, ask why?”

I believe that he would not. All those sacrifices were worthwhile. He would understand.

Mr President,

Political leadership has passed to a generation too young to have fought in that war. We face instead the responsibility of peace. Having banished the divisions of the past, we must let not even the shadow of a new division fall across Europe. We need to forge a chain of new relationships binding us together in a durable peace. We together share a responsibility to spare our peoples the suffering of conflict, within as well as beyond our national borders.

To this end we in Britain see a continuing need for relationships and institutions which have served us well. But other mechanisms will be needed too. Britain is looking for a complete system of partnerships in which partnership with Russia must be a central component.

Mr President,

Some 50 years ago, our countries came together in the common endeavour of war. 50 years later, our responsibility is to work together in a shared responsibility of peace. We work to shape the European institutions of the next century. To become partners in prosperity. And to build for the future a Europe free from hate and fear.