VIENNA, May 8. /TASS/. Russia is grateful to the authorities and people of Austria for careful and respectful treatment of Soviet war memorials, Russian President Vladimir Putin said in his address broadcast by Austria’s ORF channel on the 75th anniversary of liberation of Austria from Nazism.
"The Great Victory saved humanity. It paved way to rebuilding of the independent, dynamically developing Austria. Over 26,000 Soviet soldiers sacrificed their lives for its liberation. There are over 200 military graves on the Austrian soil. We are grateful to the authorities and people of Austria for careful, respectful treatment of these memorials that are very important for us," Putin said.
According to the president, the memory of the fallen and of the war events, protection of truth and honoring of true heroes is more than just a common duty. "This is a matter of conscience before the entire generation of victors. They sacrificed everything so that us, their heirs, would never know the tragedy of war. And now we must also do the best we can so that no one ever dares to wage a new one again. This is our responsibility before future generations," the president said.
Every year on May 8, Austria celebrates the anniversary of the end of World War II. A solemn event, the Festival of Joy, marks this occasion. It is organized by the Austrian Mauthausen Committee.
Following the 1938 Anschluss, Austria became a part of Nazi Germany. Restoration of its statehood began after its liberation from Nazis and creation of interim government on April 27, 1945. At that time, Austria was split into four occupation zones by the anti-Hitler coalition forces and the de-Nazification process began. Austria gained complete independence in 1955, after Soviet, UK, US and French forces withdrew and the Treaty for the Re-establishment of an Independent and Democratic Austria was signed.