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Tragedy of Auschwitz death camp should become reminder for future generations — diplomat

From 1.5 million to 2 million people of various nationalities died in the Auschwitz-Birkenau extermination camp during WWII
Auschwitz-Birkenau extermination camp AP Photo/Czarek Sokolowski
Auschwitz-Birkenau extermination camp
© AP Photo/Czarek Sokolowski

WARSAW, January 27. /TASS/. Tragic events that took place in the Auschwitz-Birkenau Nazi concentration camp in the Polish city of Oswiecim should develop "immunity against historical amnesia" in future generations, Russia’s ambassador to Poland Sergei Andreyev said on Saturday.

On January 27, the ambassador attended memorial events to mark the 73th anniversary of the concentration camp’s liberation by the Red Army. This date is marked worldwide as the International Holocaust Remembrance Day.

"During the present times of the so-called post-truth, timely political goals and information warfare often lead to mix-up of concepts. The understanding of good and evil becomes distorted, criminals are getting portrayed as "freedom fighters, and the liberators - as "occupants" and "suppressors of freedom," the Russian ambassador said.

"Auschwitz is the place where the horrible tragedy of the past should serve a tough lesson to the present and future generations, where people should acquire lifelong immunity against the disease of historical amnesia. Here one can clearly see who the executors, the victims and the liberators were," Andreyev added. "It is quite logical that the Holocaust Remembrance Day coincides with the date of the Auschwitz-Birkenau liberation by Red Army soldiers."

The ambassador said that in December 2017, the UN General Assembly adopted another resolution on combating the glorification of Nazism, neo-Nazism and other practices that contribute to fueling contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance.

"Unfortunately, there are still countries where neo-Nazism raises its head, where those who collaborated with the Nazis and killed civilians for their "wrong nationality" are treated as national heroes, where marches and rallies of neo-Nazis are held under slogans of national superiority and racial intolerance, and a war is being waged on monuments to those who fought against Nazism," the Russian diplomat added.

On Saturday evening, memorial events were held in the Memorial and Museum Auschwitz-Birkenau, created on the site of the former death camp. The event is attended by former prisoners, officials and clergy.

Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, who was present at the ceremony, also warned against forgetting the lessons of history.

"Death camps should remain in our memory forever as a warning," he said. "Heinous crimes committed there were concealed from the world not only by high walls with barbed wire, but also by the horrible and dark ideology of Hitler and the Nazis."

"We will always remember the death machines that were used during that time. We must remember it," the prime minister went on. "The evil showed its darkest side in Oswiecim. We must fight for truth and justice and give peace a chance."

In Auschwitz-Birkenau, Nazis killed in gas chambers and burnt in crematorium furnaces over 1 million Jews, and also dozens of thousands of representatives of the Polish intelligentsia and Soviet prisoners-of-war. Estimates indicate that overall from 1.5 million to 2 million people of various nationalities died in that camp. The concentration compound was liberated by the Soviet troops on January 27, 1945.

The Auschwitz-Birkenau extermination camp was liberated in the course of the Vistula-Oder operation by Soviet divisions making part of the 60th army of the First Ukrainian Front.

According to the 60th army’s roster (the document was declassified several years ago), Auschwitz-Birkenau was liberated by combatants of 39 nationalities. Various estimates indicate that from 234 to 350 Soviet soldiers and officers died during the liberation of the concentration camp.