On January 27, 2015 H.E. Mr.M.I.Petrakov, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Russian Federation to the Republic of South Africa and the Kingdom of Lesotho, took part in memorial meeting in Pretoria on the occasion of the 70-th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, organized by SA Jewish Board of Deputies.
Mr.M.I.Petrakov delivered a short message, in which he underlined the Holocaust and Auschwitz are the most tragic and shameful episodes in human history and that it is necessary to learn lessons of history. It was an ultimate crime committed by absolute evil and there can be no relativism in assessment of what happened then. The issue of Auschwitz is painful for Russians also because in September 1941 Soviet POWs together with 250 Poles were exterminated with the cyclone-B gas. It was a trial after which the building of gas chambers commenced in Auschwitz.
The Ambassador stressed that the issue of the truth about the war which the Russians call the Great Patriotic War is sacred, because Russia lost, sacrificed and contributed so much to the Great Victory.
The Ambassador said that he understands very acutely the tragedy of the Holocaust and the loss the Jewish people suffered.
The Ambassador specifically stressed that it was the Soviet Army which liberated Auschwitz and added that the army was built not on a national principle, but was a mixture of 39 nationalities. He also stressed the fact that over half a million Jews were fighting under the Red Army against fascism and over 200 000 of them perished.
The Ambassador emphasized the importance of keeping the truth of the Holocaust and Auschwitz forever passing it on from generation to generation. It is particularly important to educate younger people.
Mr. M.I. Petrakov thanked the organizers of the event for their most important work which constitutes a part of international efforts to ensure that the lessons of history are learnt.