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Opinions & Interviews

21 Oct 2013

Makei: Belarus does a lot to preserve the memory of the Holocaust victims

Makei: Belarus does a lot to preserve the memory of the Holocaust victims

MINSK, 21 October (BelTA) - Modern Belarus has been doing a lot to preserve the memory of the Holocaust victims, Belarusian Foreign Minister Vladimir Makei said at a ceremony in memory of the 70th anniversary of the destruction of the Minsk ghetto, BelTA has learnt.

“Today Belarus is doing a lot to preserve the memory of the victims of the Holocaust. We do not tolerate any manifestations of anti-Semitism. We encourage the study of the Jewish culture and language. We are working to restore the monuments important in the history of the Jewish people,” said Vladimir Makei.

The head of the Foreign Ministry recalled that Minsk ghetto was one of the largest in Europe. It held about 100,000 people. It was here that the Nazis began to implement the doctrine of systematic destruction of the Jewish people. Prisoners from Austria, Poland and other countries were brought here for subsequent execution.

Memorial "Yama" in Minsk According to Vladimir Makei, Yama is not only a monument to the tragedy, but also a monument to the feat of the Jewish people. Many prisoners of the ghetto fought for their freedom. "We are proud that the Belarusians treated the tragedy of the Jewish people as their own. At the risk of their own lives they saved thousands of Jews from certain death,” said the head of the Foreign Ministry of Belarus. He also recalled that 711 Belarusians were awarded the highest honorary title "Righteous Among the Nations". "The war has become the common grief and ordeal for our peoples. Every third Jew and every third Belarusian were lost in the war. Our collective memory is part of the unique history of good-neighborly relations between our peoples, an invaluable capital owing to which Belarus was, is and will remain the common home. In memory of the victims we must confront all manifestations of the Nazism and religious intolerance today. We cannot allow the slightest distortion of the truth about the greatest tragedy of the past,” said Vladimir Makei.

According to the Jewish tradition, Vladimir Makei laid a stone brought from the outskirts of Jerusalem on the monument in memory of the ghetto victims.

Ms. Naomi Ben-Ami, Director of the Liaison Bureau “Nativ” in the Israeli Prime Minister’s Office, in turn, said that people should not forget the greatest tragedy of the 20th century - the Holocaust.

The events in tribute of the 70th anniversary of the destruction of the Minsk ghetto were held in Minsk on 20-21 October. The events included a commemorative meeting and a mourning ceremony, a reception for the former ghetto inmates and the Righteous Among the Nations, a roundtable on the studies and preservation of the memory of the Holocaust, a tour around the Jewish historical places in Minsk, an evening of documentaries and other events.

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Great Patriotic War monuments in Belarus