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Russian diplomat slams decision on Nazi death camp Sobibor

The Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman comments on Poland’s decision to bar Russia from renovating Nazi camp memorial

MOSCOW, August 17. /TASS/. Moscow believes the decision not to include Russia in the project to establish a museum on the place of a former Nazi extermination camp in Sobibor an outrageous fact of historical amnesia, Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said at Thursday’s briefing.

"We consider the decision of the international management committee responsible for the construction of the renewed museum on the place of the former Nazi death camp Sobibor not to allow Russia to participate in the project an outrageous fact of historical amnesia," Zakharova stated. "It is obvious that participation in memorable ceremonies cannot replace full participation in the committee and its work that is authorized to develop the conception for the future memorial, organize work on the site and control the financing."

"[They] did not allow Russia [to the committee], having renounced shyly the earlier sent invitation, though we many times confirmed our willingness to make a contribution, including a financial one, to the memorial construction to eternalize the memory of the prisoners of that Hitlerite death factory that ceased to exists due to the heroic deed of a Red Army soldier," the diplomat explained.

Zakharova also added that ambassadors from Israel and some European countries were summoned to the Russian Foreign Ministry to give explanations of the decision to leave Russia outside the museum establishment project.

"We were less surprised by the official Warsaw’s position. It has long been known for its Russophobian policy and strive for anti-Russian historical revisionism regarding this issue," she said. "However, the easiness with which our might-have-been partners under the project - the Netherlands, Slovakia and Israel - changed their position on Russia’s participation is bewildering, surprising and hard to understand."

"In light of this, we have to invite to the Russian Foreign Ministry the heads of the diplomatic missions of the mentioned countries in Moscow for explanation and serious talks," Zakharova added.

Sobibor was a Nazi German extermination camp located near the railway station of Sobibor in Poland. It operated from May 1942 to October 1943. Jews from Poland, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Czechoslovakia and the Soviet Union were transported to Sobibor by rail. Most were suffocated in gas chambers disguised as shower enclosures. From 150,000 to 250,000 people were murdered at Sobibor. The camp was closed shortly after the uprising of October 14, 1943 led by Soviet officer Alexander Pechersky, when about 600 prisoners attempted to escape. The Germans bulldozed the earth and planted pine trees over the camp’s territory to conceal its location. After the end of the war, Polish authorities erected a monument of a mother cuddling a child on the place, made a mound and erected a stone obelisk that symbolized a gas chamber.