FIR: We remember the liberation of the concentration camps

In April, the commemoration of the liberation of the camps in 1945 traditionally takes place in the various memorial sites in Germany. It is a good tradition that not only the survivors and their relatives are invited to these commemorations, but also representatives of the states whose relatives were incarcerated in these camps and whose armies, as part of the anti-Hitler coalition, made the military liberation possible. This is, on the one hand, a tribute to the victims and, at the same time, a visible thanks to the liberators.

In the past days, information reached us from different memorial places, at which also the Soviet victims of the fascist barbarism – among them forced laborers, concentration camp prisoners or prisoners of war – are commemorated, that based of the background of the war in the Ukraine at this year’s commemoration ceremonies representatives from Belarus and the Russian Federation were disinvited. The FIR sees in such behavior not only a wrong political signal, but also an affront to the Soviet victims and their relatives. We ask ourselves, how one wants to commemorate for example the liberation of the concentration camp Sachsenhausen, if representatives of the armed forces, which made the military liberation possible, are excluded. This reminds us fatally of the attitude of the Polish government a few years ago, when representatives of Russia were excluded from the celebrations of the liberation of the extermination camp Auschwitz and a Polish minister stooped to the absurd assertion that Auschwitz was liberated by the Ukraine. He did not understand that soldiers of the second Ukrainian Front of the Soviet army reached the extermination camp on January 27, 1945.

FIR supports the actual statement of the German member association VVN-BdA:

“It is important to us to clearly distinguish between the necessary condemnation of the war in Ukraine and the memory of the dead of German fascism. In addition, it is important to remember that on these days and in these places should be commemorated all Soviet victims of fascism, and they came from all parts of the former USSR.
Moreover, we emphasize once again that the Red Army – as a part of the anti-Hitler coalition – made the decisive military contribution to the liberation of our country from fascist barbarism as well. In this army of the Soviet Union fought side-by-side Russians, Ukrainians, and representatives of all peoples of the Soviet Union.
Therefore, it is very impossible that on this occasion the state representatives of successor states of the USSR should not get an opportunity to participate in this commemoration in a dignified manner. Because in this commemoration the victims are in the center. Moreover, it should become visible that this commemoration is also an obligation to peace, reconciliation and common remembrance.

From our point of view, something comparable also applies to May 8/9 – the “Day of Liberation” and the “Victory Day”. Also on this occasion, in the spirit of a message of peace, we should remember together the significant achievement of all veterans of the Red Army, from whichever successor state of the USSR they come. We should remember how they fought against Nazism and for peace and the sacrifices, they made for this liberation achievement.

Excluding participants is diametrically opposed to this. This applies equally to the family members and descendants who want to participate in a dignified commemoration.”

The FIR expects that those responsible in all memorial sites ensure that a remembrance of the Soviet victims of the camps and detention sites is guaranteed and that it is made possible for representatives of all successor states of the USSR in a dignified form to pay tribute to their victims at this place. We condemn any exclusion and consider this a form of state revision of history at the expense of the liberators and the victims as well as their relatives. With deep disgust, the scandalous consequences of such anti-Russian exclusions could be experienced by the desecration of the Treptower Park memorial.