Statement by Permanent Representative Vassily Nebenzia at the Memorial Meeting of the 74th session of the UN General Assembly on the occasion of the Holocaust Remembrance Day
Dear Holocaust survivors,
President of the General Assembly,
Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, friends
It is a great honor for me to be addressing you today, when the whole world marks the 75th anniversary of the liberation by the Red Army of one of the most terrible Nazi death camps - Auschwitz-Birkenau. That name and that place have become an ominous symbol of one of the worst tragedies in human history - the Holocaust.
Before the liberation almost no reliable information about Nazi concentration camps was available either in the USSR or in the West. What liberators found defied any description. Reminiscences and memoirs of the Soviet soldiers of the 1st Ukrainian front of the Red Army who opened the gates of this Nazi “death factory” convey shock, pain, resentment, and compassion. In that hell where people from various countries were sent to for torture, monstrous experiments, and mass extermination, many and many hundreds of thousand, millions of people of various nationalities were sadistically and methodically murdered. More than half of them were Jews.
Six million Jews were tortured to death in ghettos and concentration camps, were grisly killed during punitive operations. 40 per cent of them were citizens of the Soviet Union. The Holocaust has been and will be a wound, a tragedy that we will always remember.
At the same time, we cannot forget that while deliberately exterminating Jews, Nazis plotted that same fate should befall many other nations: Russians, Belarusians, Ukrainians, Poles, and many others. Inhumane ideology of racial superiority envisaged that they would either be exterminated or become slaves.
Back then, in 1945, nations of the world united to build an anti-Hitler coalition to stop those barbarous plans. In that war the Soviet Union paid an ultimate price of 27 million human lives and thus took upon itself the main blow of Hitler Germany, withstood it and brought liberation from Nazism to the world.
The gates of Auschwitz would not have opened in 1945, had it not been for the heroic defense of Brest, Minsk, Kiev, Odessa, Sevastopol; had it not been for the Red Army that stopped Hitler troops at the gates of Moscow; destroyed them at Stalingrad, and defeated Nazi hordes at Kursk; had it not been for our American and British allies who were pushing forward from the West, draining power and resources of Wehrmacht and thus bringing the world closer to the Day of the Great Victory.
Today we mourn the victims of Nazism, today we honor those who survived its terrors, today we pay tribute to those who sacrificed their lives in fighting this absolute evil, today we pay respect to the heroic veterans of World War 2. And we pray that such thing never ever happens again.
To ensure this, we must not forget who committed this evil, who masterminded and performed the Holocaust, who started the war and brought grief to dozens of millions. We also must not forget those collaborators who were helping them, no matter what their motifs might have been. It is important to learn the history’s lesson right in order to prevent such catastrophes as the Holocaust and World War 2. That is why we are uncompromising with attempts to re-write history, equate the victims and aggressors.
For the sake of peace and justice, for the sake of future generations, we must not turn a blind eye to manifestations of aggressive nationalism, xenophobia, antisemitism, racism. We all are responsible for keeping the memory of that war, of the victims of Nazism, and crimes of their accomplices, of the horrors of the Holocaust, of death camps, of besieged heroic Leningrad, of Babi Yar, of the village of Khatyn burned to the ground, of the dead and living heroes. That is why every year the General Assembly at the initiative of the Russian Federation adopts a resolution on combating glorification of Nazism.
This year the world celebrates the 75th anniversary of the Great Victory and of the creation of the United Nations, therefore the words that resounded in the Soviet Union “No one is forgotten, nothing is forgotten” are as relevant as ever before, as well as the words “Never Again”. The victims of the Holocaust are not forgotten. Those who died fighting against Nazism are not forgotten. The verdicts of the Nuremberg Tribunal are not forgotten. It is our sacred duty to keep this memory and be worthy of the heroism and sacrifice of those who paid with their lives for our lives and for our future.