Vladimir Putin: Dear friends,
They say that time heals. And it does. But now, standing in one of the most horrific concentration camps, 60 years after its liberation, you feel horror and anger, and shudder at everything that took place here. It is impossible, inconceivable to think that people are capable of such barbarity, that they could be subject to what is truly total insanity. And it is impossible to resign oneself to what really happened here.
But before our eyes, there are rails on which entire trains of victims arrived, and gas chambers with carefully designed crematoriums. All these terrible objects that we can see give us no reason to doubt that a finely-tuned factory of death worked constantly here. And we will never stop asking: how could this happen?
Auschwitz does not just appeal to our memory, it appeals to our reason. Here, on this earth, soaked in blood and the ashes of victims of Nazism, we can truly see the future that fascism was preparing for Europe, a continent that developed on humanitarian values and democratic traditions, and passed through the inquisition to the reformation and enlightenment. And here, on this tortured earth, we must say clearly and simply: any attempts to rewrite history, to put victims and executioners, liberators and occupiers on the same level, are immoral and incompatible with the thinking of people who consider themselves Europeans.
Today we pay tribute to the memory of everyone who was brutally murdered in cold blood by the fascists here in Auschwitz. We bow our heads before the tens of millions of citizens of various countries of the world, citizens who passed through the hell of concentration camps, were shot and tortured, or died from starvation and disease. We bow our heads before the victims of the Holocaust, before all the victims of the inhuman war that was unleashed by Nazism.
We mourn them and remember the immortal victory of the army of the anti-Hitler coalition, which broke the back of fascism. We remember all our allies. We pay tribute to the courage of Soviet soldiers, 600,000 of whom gave their lives for the liberation of Poland. And we will never forget that the Soviet Union paid the most terrible, impossibly high price for this victory – 27 million lives!
But today we must not just remember the past, but recognise all the threats of the modern world, one of which is terrorism. It is no less insidious or dangerous than nazism, and just as ruthless. Thousands of innocent people have already become its victims. Just as there could not be good or bad Nazis, so there cannot be good or bad terrorists. Double standards are not only unacceptable here – they are deadly dangerous for civilisation.
Today’s ceremony is essentially the opening of the 60th anniversary of the end of the Second World War. The culmination of this will be the May celebrations in Moscow, where many of those present here will gather.
Let us do everything we can so that we, moderm people, politicians and state leaders, are not ashamed for our words and for our deeds, so that we can be honest and sincere before everyone who helped to bring this victory closer at the price of their suffering, blood, tears and lives, before everyone who has remained here forever, in Auschwitz. And we are responsible for making sure that what happened here never repeats – never, nowhere and with no one.