The director of the Auschwitz memorial camp has equated Nazi atrocities in the Second World War with Russian forces now in Ukraine.
The director of the Auschwitz Nazi death camp memorial has compared the recent killings of people in Ukraine by Russian forces to similar suffering during World War II.
Marking the 78th anniversary of the liberation of the camp, which was built on Polish soil by Nazi Germany and where more than 1.1 million people — mostly Jews — perished in gas chambers and from hunger, cold and disease, the director of the memorial compared the Nazi crimes against to those recently committed by the Russians in Ukrainian cities such as Bucha and Mariupol.
“Similar sick megalomania, similar lust for power and similar sounding myths of uniqueness, greatness, primacy… only written in Russian. Innocent people are dying en masse again in Europe,” said director Piotr Cywinski in his address to the audience, which included Holocaust survivors, on Friday.
“The district of Wola in Warsaw, Zamojszczyzna, Oradour and Lidice are today called Bucha, Irpin, Hostomel, Mariupol and Donetsk,” he said, referring to the places where mass killings took place in World War II and where Ukraine and its allies accuse Russian atrocity forces.
“To remain silent is to give a voice to the perpetrators,” Cywinski said. “Remaining indifferent is tantamount to condoning murder,” he said.
“Russia, which could not conquer Ukraine, decided to destroy it. We see it every day, even as we stand here.”
Read the address @AuschwitzMuseum director for the 78th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz.
“To be silent is to give a voice to the perpetrators,
To remain neutral is to reach out to the rapist,
To remain indifferent is tantamount to condoning murder.” pic.twitter.com/KGGcHArwNE
— Auschwitz Memorial (@AuschwitzMuseum) January 27, 2023
The camp, which was established by Nazi Germany in occupied Poland in 1940, became the largest of Adolf Hitler’s extermination centers.
Although the camp was liberated by the Soviet-era Red Army on January 27, 1945, Russian officials were not invited to participate in this year’s commemoration because of the war in Ukraine.
Valentina Matvienko, the speaker of the upper house of the Russian parliament, condemned it as a “cynical” move on Friday.
“They refused to invite the liberators so they could honor the memory of the victims,” she said. “Of course, this is very worrying.”
In a Telegram post on Thursday, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova accused the West of trying to rewrite history and said “the memory of the horrors of Nazism and Soviet hero-liberators cannot be erased.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin, who in 2005 attended ceremonies marking the 60th anniversary of the liberation of the camp, repeated his claim on Friday that Russian soldiers were fighting neo-Nazis in Ukraine.
“Crimes against civilians, ethnic cleansing and criminal actions organized by neo-Nazis in Ukraine testify to this. Our soldiers fight bravely against this evil,” said Putin.
“Forgetting the lessons of history leads to the repetition of terrible tragedies,” he said.
During Friday’s commemoration, Holocaust survivors wearing hats and scarves on the blue and white stripes of their camp uniforms placed candles on the ruins of the gas chamber.