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Russia not invited to Auschwitz liberation anniversary event in Poland

26.01.2023 14:45
Russian officials will be excluded from a ceremony in southern Poland on Friday to mark the 78th anniversary of the liberation of the Nazi German Auschwitz death camp by the Soviet army, Poland’s PAP news agency has reported.
Entrance to the former Auschwitz death camp with the infamous Arbeit Macht Frei (Work Sets You Free) sign.
Entrance to the former Auschwitz death camp with the infamous "Arbeit Macht Frei" (Work Sets You Free) sign. Photo: PAP/Andrzej Grygiel

"Due to the invasion of a free and independent Ukraine, a Russian delegation was not invited this year to take part in marking the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz," Bartosz Bartyzel, a spokesman for the museum at the site of the former camp, told reporters.

The commemorations are set for January 27, which marks the 78th anniversary of the liberation by the Soviet army of the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp built by Nazi Germany during World War II in occupied Poland.

The date has also become International Holocaust Remembrance Day to commemorate the murder of one-third of the Jewish people, along with countless members of other minorities between 1933 and 1945 by Nazi Germany.

Until now, Russian officials have always attended the annual event, with its delegate speaking at the main ceremony.

Piotr Cywiński, director of the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum in the southern Polish city of Oświęcim, told PAP that it was obvious that he could "sign no letter to the Russian ambassador having an inviting tone in the current context."

"I hope that will change in the future but we have a long way to go," Cywiński said, as quoted by the PAP news agency.

"Russia will need an extremely long time and very deep self-examination after this conflict in order to return to gatherings of the civilised world," Cywiński added.

The museum denounced Russian aggression as a "barbaric act" after Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24 last year.

Cywiński said that, in the wake of the Russian invasion, the museum "welcomed 10 female conservators-restorers from Ukraine who had fled bombardments."

He told reporters: "How could I look them in the eye now if there was a Russian representative sitting comfortably among the other invitees?"

Dyrektor Państwowego Muzeum Auschwitz-Birkenau Piotr Cywiński Piotr Cywiński. Photo: PAP/Łukasz Gągulski

Auschwitz-Birkenau has become a symbol of Nazi Germany's genocide of 6 million European Jews, 1 million of whom died at the camp between 1940 and 1945 along with more than 100,000 non-Jews.

Thursday is day 337 of Russia’war against Ukraine.


Source: PAP