Opening of the exhibition "The Holocaust: Annihilation, Liberation, Rescue" organised by the Permanent Representation of the Russian Federation
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Ladies and gentlemen,
We are grateful to the Permanent Representation of the Russian Federation for bringing this exhibition to the Council of Europe.
The Holocaust is a particularly painful memory for Europe and its remembrance is a complex and difficult thing.
This was an appalling crime, committed by Europeans, against other Europeans, the vast majority of which were Jews.
The European Convention on Human Rights and the Council of Europe were of course products, in part, of that well-known pledge:
That is why we have led remembrance programmes and why we are now developing a proposal for a recommendation on “teaching about Holocaust in the XXI century”.
In this way we play our part in keeping memory alive – and citizens aware – of the terrible atrocities carried out in Europe just 75 years ago:
And prevent any return to the atmosphere and politics that allowed them to occur.
So I welcome this exhibition as a contribution to that effort.
It tells the story of annihilation, liberation and rescue as experienced by the Soviet Union and from Russia’s perspective.
Certainly, the scale of that story is immense.
The Soviet Union paid an enormous price in the fights against Nazism, including the loss of more than two and a half million Holocaust victims –
Almost half of the total number.
Today, it is hard for many people to comprehend the scale of that suffering.
But this exhibition brings it into sharp focus.
Showing the faces of just a few of the victims.
Illustrating the terrible events that took place.
And retelling the events surrounding the liberation of the Auschwitz death camp by Soviet soldiers where Soviet prisoners of war had been among the first victims of the gas chambers.
In Europe today, we must continue to honour the memory of all those Jews and others who lost their lives due to the horrors of totalitarianism.
I am pleased that we have the opportunity to do that again here today.