Valentina Matviyenko: We must never forget Nazi crimes against humanity

The Federation Council Speaker has visited the Jewish Museum and Tolerance Centre in Moscow

Federation Council Speaker Valentina Matviyenko visited the Jewish Museum and Tolerance Centre in Moscow on International Holocaust Remembrance Day.

The Federation Council Speaker said in her remarks that the Holocaust was one of the most barbarous crimes of the 20th century. She said that Russia cherishes the memory of the Holocaust victims. “It is our common grief. We view this catastrophe as the common pain for our multi-ethnic people who sustained the largest losses during WWII in the fight against Nazism,” she said.

The Speaker added that Russia has always worked to thwart any attempts to deny the fact of the Holocaust. Valentina Matviyenko noted that she had just returned from St Petersburg where a ceremony was held to remember the victims of the siege, one of the most heinous Nazi crimes.

“The world must never forget the Holocaust, the siege of Leningrad [now St Petersburg], the tragedy of Khatyn in Belarus and the massacres of Lidice in Czechoslovakia [now the Czech Republic ] and Babi Yar [near Kiev], the merciless suppression of the Warsaw ghetto uprising as well as many other Nazi crimes against humanity. In order to prevent a repetition of these crimes we must never forget what happened,” the Federation Council Speaker said.

She pointed out that this is especially important now that neo-Nazism and anti-Semitism are rearing their ugly heads again. “Torch rallies with Nazi symbols are again being held, the monuments to the soldiers who died liberating Europe are torn down, while monuments to Nazi accomplices are installed and streets are named in their honour,” she noted.

Valentina Matviyenko has called for taking a realistic view on the growing threat of anti-Semitism, Russophobia and any other phobias. This ideology is dangerous because it is fostering national, religious and ethnic hatred.

The Federation Council Speaker recalled that Russia submits a draft UN resolution on preventing the glorification of Nazism every year. “All of us, including the public at large, civil society institutions and ordinary citizens, must face up to our responsibility for the future of humankind,” she pointed out.

“We the members of parliament must do our very best to prevent the revival of the inhuman Nazi ideology,” Valentina Matviyenko added.

The Speaker went on to say that Russian MPs hold many joint events with the Knesset, the national legislature of Israel. For example, they organised a videoconference on the release of the film Sobibor and the Federation Council also hosted an exhibition devoted to the Holocaust.

Berel Lazar, the Chief Rabbi of Russia who attended the events at the Jewish Museum and Tolerance Centre, pointed out that it is very important not only to remember the Holocaust victims but also the heroism of the Red Army, which liberated the inmates of the Oswiecim (Auschwitz) concentration camp where some 1.5 million Jews were exterminated. “We must do everything in our power to prevent a repetition of this,” the Rabbi said.

Rabbi Alexander Boroda, President of the Federation of Jewish Communities of Russia, stated that the Jewish Museum and Tolerance Centre should keep the memory of the Holocaust alive through exhibitions and other events.

Other participants included Viktor Vekselberg, President of the Renova Group and chair of the Jewish Museum and Tolerance Centre’s Board of Trustees, ambassadors from Israel, the United States, the UK, the Netherlands and other countries, as well as members of the public.

The participants lit memorial candles for the victims of the Holocaust. The exhibition “Anne Frank. Holocaust Diaries” at the Jewish Museum and Tolerance Centre opened as part of the commemoration events.