Statement by Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia, Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation, at the closing ceremony of the exhibition
Excellences, Ladies and Gentlemen, Dear Friends,
On January 27, 1945 Soviet soldiers freed the prisoners of Auschwitz, the Nazi deadliest camp. The World finally saw the scale of Nazi’s atrocities and was terrified. This day by decision of the United Nations General Assembly became the International day of commemoration in memory of the victims of the Holocaust, one of the gravest crimes against humanity. The Holocaust tragedy became a symbol of disaster and pain, merciless savageness and total disregard for human life.
Auschwitz and other Nazi’s camps of death were parts of the Nazi’s deadly and powerful “plant” for murdering in industrial scale: millions of people were tortured, humiliated and brutally killed there just for belonging to a certain nationality. Jews were the main victims of this hatred, but also the others, including Russians, Belarusians, Ukrainians and other nations of the Soviet Union, Poles, Czechs, Slovaks, Roma and Sinti.
People of many nationalities suffered during World War II and perished in Nazi’s concentration camps. But even then they did not surrender and continued to resist the Nazi killing machinery. This year marks 75 years since the Sobibor concentration camp uprising, which went down in history as the most massive act of prisoner resistance. Practically with bare hands they confronted their enemies. Soviet lieutenant of Jewish nationality Alexander Pechersky was the leader of the upraising. This extraordinary deed of people, who defying death fought for freedom and human dignity, cannot but cause admiration and respect.
Millions died for the sake of new generations. Remembrance of their memory is duty and honour for Russia and for all the international community. It is our debt to all those sacrificed their lives for peace, humanity and human rights.
The Holocaust was a world scale catastrophe, which should never repeat again. This tragedy is a warning and a reminder for all – without the Great Victory in 1945 there would not be any free nation. There would not be the UN itself.
27 January is connected with another tragic page in human history. On that day in 1944 the Nazi siege of Leningrad was ended. In almost 900 tragic days it took lives of hundred thousands of Leningrad residents. The witnesses of those who survived this horror even now are blood-chilling. We honour those who defend the city, the fortitude and strength of its residents.
Atrocities committed by the Nazis and their heinous crimes have no limitation statute, they cannot be justified or forgiven. Any attempt to suppress or distort the truth about them, to falsify their history is intolerable and immoral. In this regard every year the General Assembly adopts by the initiative of the Russian delegation the special resolution on combating glorification of Nazism.
The exhibition "The Holocaust: Annihilation, Liberation, Rescue" is an important contribution in our common cause of preserving historical memory and prevention of whitewashing of criminals. I would like to express my special gratitude to the Russian Holocaust Center and its co-chair professor Ilya Altman as well as to the Russian Jewish Congress for making possible this important exhibition here in New York, in the heart of the United Nations.