Russia Declassifies Auschwitz Liberation Documents
Classified World War II documents of the Auschwitz concentration camp's January 27, 1945 liberation will finally see the light of day on its 70th anniversary, the Defense Ministry announced in a statement Tuesday.
"Today, 70 years after the events, the Russian Ministry of Defense will for the first time publicly disclose reliable historical documents from the period of the Great Patriotic War from the central archives of the Russian Ministry of Defense on its official website," the statement reads.
The move comes amid recent comments made by Polish and Ukrainian public officials dismissing Russia's role in the Soviet Army's liberation of the Nazi concentration camp.
"Attempts are being made to erase from the people's memory the atrocities committed by the Nazis in Oswiecim [another name for Auschwitz], while defiling the cherished memory of the millions of human lives and fates from dozens of countries ground down by the fascist conveyor of death," the statement continues.
The Defense Ministry also published original documents telling the story of how "joyful, enthusiastic" crowds of Polish nationals met the Red Army soldiers in the liberated territories.
On Tuesday, the world marks International Holocaust Remembrance Day, commemorating the millions of victims of one of the most appalling crimes in the history of mankind.
On January 27, 1945, Soviet troops under the command of Marshal Ivan Konev entered southwest Poland, liberating 7,600 prisoners from Auschwitz-Birkenau. The Nazi camp, which has become the biggest and most notable symbol of the Holocaust, now houses the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum.
Though the exact number of Auschwitz victims will never be known since many documents were destroyed by Nazi forces, an estimated 1.5 million to 4 million people perished at the concentration camp.
In addition to paying tribute to survivors and keeping the memory of the Holocaust alive to prevent similar tragedies, International Holocaust Remembrance Day is a call to action for the entire international community and every individual to refuse any and all forms of bigotry, intolerance and racism.