The text of the President’s message reads:
“Every year the world marks January 27 as International Holocaust Remembrance Day. It was on this day in 1945 that the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp was liberated.
Soviet Army Major Anatoly Shapiro, one of those who opened the death camp’s gates, devoted the rest of his life to fighting racism and genocide. These are his words: ‘I want to say to every person on Earth: Join forces against this evil that it has been our lot to encounter! People, look after life upon our planet!’
The generations that have not seen the horrors of war need to know about them, and indeed, we all need to remember what a unthinkable price humanity paid for allowing xenophobia and chauvinism to take hold. We need to remember that six million people were killed simply because of their ethnicity, simply for being Jewish. And according to the Nazis’ plan, at least a third of the population in the occupied territories was to follow their fate.
Now, 65 years have passed since Nazism was defeated, and yet we still hear the voices of those who try to justify the Nazis’ crime and paint victims and executioners, liberators and invaders with the same brush. In some cases they go even so far as to make heroes of the Nazis’ helpers. Such attempts to rewrite history are unacceptable, and we need to join forces to prevent them.
We must never forget that indifference, apathy and failure to remember history’s lessons ultimately lead to tragedy and crime, while trust and mutual aid help us to resist even the most dangerous threats.
We have an example in the life of Miep Gies, the woman who helped a Jewish family in the Netherlands to hide from the Nazis during World War II, and later saved for the world the diary of Anne Frank, the diary of a teenage girl who was a unique witness of fascism’s atrocities.
We also have an example in the lives of two inmates of the Buchenwald concentration camp: Russian soldier Fyodor Mikhailichenko and Jewish boy Israel Meir Lau. The boy survived in this hell thanks to the help of this stranger who became his closest friend back then, and when he grew up he became chief rabbi of Israel.
The tragedy of World War II remains a bitter warning for us today. The responsibility for protecting peace and freedom in our world is in our hands. Together we are responsible for this before today’s and future generations.”
Mr Medvedev’s message was read out by Russian Minister of Education and Science Andrei Fursenko at the remembrance ceremony at Auschwitz.