An EJC delegation consisting of representatives and leaders of Europe’s Jewish communities participated in the commemoration ceremony of the 75th anniversary of the liquidation of the Minsk Ghetto, organised by the Union of Belarusian Jewish Public Associations and Communities, the country’s EJC affiliate. The ceremony took place in the city’s “Yama” Memorial.
The EJC delegation was led by Executive Vice-President and CEO Raya Kalenova, who addressed an audience which included dignitaries, diplomats, survivors of the Ghetto, Righteous of the Nations and members of the Belarusian Jewish community.
“My presence here today side by side with our affiliate, the Jewish community of Belarus, is testimony that despite one third of the world’s Jewish people being wiped out in the Shoah and half of Europe’s Jews among them, they did not succeed,” Ms. Kalenova said. “We are
the lucky ones, the generation of the children and grandchildren of survivors. We are gathered here to preserve the memory of victims and to ensure that this crime against humanity, the Shoah, must never be forgotten.”
“At a time when fascism, racism and antisemitism are once again returning to our continent, I turn to the young people here today,” she added. “You, as the next generation have a duty to know what happened here in Minsk and in the towns and villages of Belarus, in the lifetimes of your own grandparents. Learn about it. Understand it. Spread its message over the whole world. And please, help us make sure it Never Happens Again.”
The commemoration ceremony was also addressed by Vladimir Makei, Foreign Minister of the Republic of Belarus; Sofa Landver, Israeli Minister of Aliyah and Absorption; H.E. Amb. Peter Dettmar, Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany to the Republic of Belarus;
and Vladimir Chernitsky, President of the Union of Belarusian Jewish Public Associations and Communities.
In his remarks, Amb. Dettmar stressed Germany’s special responsibility to keep the memory of the Shoah alive: “The duty of Germans is to remind everyone of what happened during World War II, so it will not happen again.”
For his part, Foreign Minister Makei stated: “Remembering the Minsk ghetto, means remembering all who perished and what would they have become if they survived. Remembering them means fighting against antisemitism and xenophobia.” In addition, a message by the President of Belarus, Aleksandr Lukashenko, was conveyed by the country’s Deputy Chief of Staff.
The ceremony forms part of the Minsk Memorial Days, a series of events organised by the Union of Belarusian Jewish Public Associations and Communities dedicated to the 75th Anniversary of the Minsk Ghetto.
Subsequently, the EJC Delegation attended an international round table discussion titled: “Tragedy of the Minsk Ghetto: Remembrance and lessons” at the Belarusian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The round table focused on the international response to address contemporary manifestations of racism and antisemitism and other forms of intolerance, including measures to prevent the rise of extremist and xenophobic movements.
The day’s events concluded with a memorial evening at the Belarusian State Philharmonic which was followed by a reception in honour of the survivors of the Ghetto and the Righteous of the Nations.