President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Friends,
Today marks a momentous event for all of us – residents of Donbass, citizens of Russia, and the Great Patriotic War veterans – the opening of the newly restored Saur-Mogila memorial complex. Restoring it is all about reviving the memory of the exploits and heroes of the generation of victors, those who, without sparing themselves, liberated Donbass from Nazi invaders, bravely fought for the Donetsk steppes and the banks of the Mius River, as well as the height of the ancient Saur-Mogila, which was an important foothold during the Red Army’s offensive in the summer of 1943.
This military operation began at almost the same time as the Battle of Kursk and played a great role in reversing the course of the Great Patriotic War.
The Nazis built a strong defensive line in Donbass. The Soviet soldiers broke it during long bloody battles and, just like in the great battle near Prokhorovka, they won a major strategic victory here.
Saur-Mogila, as well as Sapun-Gora and Mamayev Kurgan are hallowed grounds for us, for which our fathers, grandfathers and great-grandfathers laid down their lives. That is why it was important to rebuild the memorial complex that was originally built in 1967.
It was paid for by miners and residents of nearby towns and villages and was rightfully referred to as the people’s monument and was revered and particularly loved. Families came here to mark Victory Day and the liberation of Donbass from the Nazis on September 8.
In 2014, calm and peaceful life in the region came to an end. The neo-Nazis unleashed another war here. Saur-Mogila became a battlefield, and the memorial was badly damaged.
The Donbass militia selflessly defended their native land and after bloody battles recaptured the height thus repeating the feat of our ancestors. New bas-reliefs were made on the newly rebuilt memorial to commemorate the modern generation of heroes.
It is gratifying to know that this majestic complex has been restored with the utmost care. Its original look has been preserved with the obelisk once again rising on the legendary height and the figure of a victorious Soviet soldier next to it.
We remember our next of kin – front-line soldiers and their comrades-in-arms, as well as tough homefront workers. We keep and restore memorials in their honour and we will never be able to understand and accept the desire to destroy memory that reminds us and tells us about the heroism of our ancestors, their courage, suffering and sacrifices.
Our hearts bleed when we see some countries demolish monuments to Soviet soldiers who gave their lives in the service of the freedom of their people, mock history, and cynically let down their own fathers, grandfathers, and great-grandfathers.
For Russia, this is unthinkable. We are the flesh of the flesh of our heroes. The reconstructed memorial to the defenders of Donbass, the courage of our soldiers, officers and militias is a warning to all who have renounced their ancestors and forgotten the lessons of history.
I want to heartily thank everyone who participated in restoring the Saur-Mogila complex. I am aware that this idea originated several years ago. The credit for the fact that it has been made a reality goes to many people and public and community organisations.
Good luck to you and all the best.