Vladimir Putin and Alexander Lukashenko addressed the ceremony participants and laid flowers at the Eternal Flame, lit here. After that, the leaders of both countries visited the centrepiece of the memorial in the company of Presidential Aide and Chair of the Russian Military Historical Society Vladimir Medinsky, Director of the Foreign Intelligence Service and Chair of the Russian Historical Society Sergei Naryshkin, Presidential Plenipotentiary Envoy to the Northwestern Federal District Alexander Gutsan, and Leningrad Region Governor Alexander Drozdenko.
The foundation of the monument, created by sculptor Andrei Korobtsov and architect Konstantin Fomin, is a stele with a figure of a mother with her children at the top. The monument features 150 sculptural bas-reliefs representing the stories of real people or photographs from various Russian regions.
The memorial complex dedicated to the victims of the Nazi genocide was erected in the village of Zaitsevo, Gatchina District, where numerous prisoner-of-war camps, as well as children's donor concentration camps, were located during the Great Patriotic War.
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Speech at the ceremony for unveiling the monument
President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Mr Lukashenko, friends,
January 27 is one of the most important dates in our shared national history. On this day in 1944, Red Army soldiers completely lifted the siege of Leningrad. One year after that, in 1945, they liberated Auschwitz.
These two events are not only connected by the same historical era. The tragedy and martyrdom of the people of Leningrad and the prisoners of death camps will forever serve as evidence of the monstrous nature of Nazism and the unimaginable suffering of millions of innocent civilians.
For eight decades now, our pain for these terrible victims, for the shattered destinies, and for everyone who endured incredible ordeals has not subsided. Our compassion is passed on from generation to generation and has no statute of limitations, just like the crimes of Hitler’s fanatics and their accomplices, those who cold-bloodedly planned and cruelly carried out the genocide of the Soviet people.
These crimes were not committed on the battlefield. The massacres of unarmed and defenceless elderly people, women, children, and disabled were deliberate, systemic punitive acts.
Civilians accounted for over half of the Soviet Union’s total losses during the Great Patriotic War. This is compelling evidence that the Nazis and their satellites were not merely fighting a political regime or an ideology. Their goal was to seize Russia’s rich natural resources and territories, as well as to exterminate the majority of its citizens. For the rest, they envisaged the role of slaves, stripped of their native culture, traditions, and language.
These malicious goals are reflected in many Nazi documents and were realised through horrifying mass executions and murders of civilians. Belarusian Khatyn and Bryansk Khatsun, Krasnoye, Babi Yar, Zmiyevskaya Balka and Zhestyanaya Gorka are just a fraction of the sites where these massacres took place.
Death became an industry in concentration camps, ghettos, and prisons in Germany, occupied Austria, the Netherlands, Czechoslovakia, Poland, and the Soviet Union. There was a death camp here, in Gatchina, and near it there was a camp where young children were kept literally as blood donors for Nazi soldiers.
The siege of Leningrad stands out for its unprecedented cruelty and cynicism. The Nazis decided to exterminate an entire city. Over a million civilians, let me stress this, peaceful civilians living in Leningrad became victims of hunger, cold, constant shelling, and bombings.
These figures were recorded by reputable historians and scholars through research conducted on documents and verified in courts. Further investigations will be continued to uncover other crimes committed by the Nazis during the war against the peaceful population of our country.
It is to them, all the peaceful people of the USSR who lost their lives in the Nazi genocide, who the memorial we are unveiling today is dedicated to. It is a symbol of our memory and our sacred duty to investigate all crimes and bring those responsible to account.
It is important for us today and for the future. We are witnessing a disturbing trend where the outcomes of the Nuremberg trials, which unequivocally condemned Nazism, are being revised. Some countries not only rewrite history and exonerate the executioners: revanchists and neo-Nazis have embraced the Nazi ideology and methods.
Tens of thousands of people in the Baltic states are labelled “subhuman,” stripped of basic rights and persecuted. The Kiev regime glorifies Hitler's followers and members of the SS and uses terror against dissenters. Barbaric shelling of peaceful cities and towns persists, and the killing of the elderly, women and children continues. Some European countries endorse Russophobia as a state policy.
We will do all we can to halt and eradicate Nazism. The followers of Nazi executioners, no matter what they call themselves today, are doomed. Nothing can deter the desire of millions of people in Russia and across the planet for true freedom, justice, peace, and security.
We honour the memory of all the victims. Glory to the Soviet soldier, who defeated Nazism!
President of the Republic of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko: Mr Putin, dear veterans, children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren of the heroes of besieged Leningrad, friends, residents of St Petersburg,
Thank you for inviting me. For me, it is very important to be here during these sacred days for our nations.
Today, on the anniversary day of the complete lifting of the siege of Leningrad, we are embracing the thoughts and feelings of people who experienced hell on Earth. Even 80 years on, the memory of these events wrings our hearts and makes us relive the bitterness of losses, the joy of liberation and the incredibly intense struggle for life and our Victory.
The price of the Great Victory is our common pain, and this pain is shared by all peoples, condemned to death by Nazi Germany. Belarusians feel this more than anyone. This pain is cast in bronze and etched in stone on thousands of mass graves of unknown soldiers, in places where civilians were executed en masse and where Red Army soldiers, partisans and Resistance fighters performed selfless feats, from Moscow to Brest and Berlin.
Every such monument is an eyewitness, prosecutor and judge. Every monument proves irrefutably the genocide against the Soviet nation. This verdict will endure for centuries, no matter how hard some people would like to forget this today.
Now, many people, primarily ideological accomplices of murderers and traitors, are finding that their lives are troubled by the memory of victims of that war, the heroism of our fathers and grandfathers. Today, these people distinguish and honour executioners in their parliaments, and they have also launched a war against monuments in Poland, the Baltic states and Ukraine. They are completely insane.
How can they think that, by demolishing a monument, they can destroy the memory that lives on in the heart of a nation that found the strength to build peaceful relations with states that wrought death and destruction on our territories not so long ago?
The memory of the heroism of the victors, their spiritual feat will be preserved forever including here, in this heart-rending image of the mothers and children of Leningrad, Khatyn, Babi Yar and tens of thousands of destroyed and depopulated Soviet cities and villages. The people of Belarus find it important that this monument will store a piece of our deeply wounded soul, that it will commemorate the tragedy of our nation.
Friends, let us be honest. There are many thousands of monuments in vast Russia and Belarus, and their overwhelming majority honour merited heroic Red Army soldiers, partisans and people who defended their land with weapons in hand. For some reason, we did not forget but we did not pay tribute in the same way to our home front workers who performed feats in the rear. However, we did not do this deliberately. We have talked about this for a long time, but most monuments honour those who defended the Motherland with weapons in hand, and who were able to defend themselves.
The grandeur of this decision lies in the fact that we are paying tribute to people and little children (whom the President of Russia has just mentioned) who were unable to defend themselves. The enemy drained the last drops of their blood to treat Nazi soldiers. Quite possibly, it makes sense that we are now compensating for what we probably overlooked in Soviet times.
I would like to express tremendous gratitude to you, Mr President, and to the entire Russian nation and everyone involved in creating this monument. I would like to thank the administration of the Leningrad Region, the Russian Military Historical Society, and the monument’s designers. I would like to thank them all on behalf of the long-suffering Belarusian nation.
We cannot change the past, but it is in our power to protect the future. May this memorial honour our common historical memory, the fraternity of nations and the strength of the indestructible unity of nations that rallied in the struggle against global evil, and that defeated it. This is very important for us today.
I wish you all peace, goodness and happiness.