US Vice President Michael Pence, in his speech on the memory of the victims of the Holocaust in Jerusalem, decided not to mention that the Auschwitz-Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp was liberated by the Red Army. A transcript of his speech is published on the White House website.
“On January 27, 1945, opening the gates of Auschwitz, the soldiers found seven thousand prisoners, exhausted by hunger and half-dressed, as well as hundreds of boxes with camp records that documented the most massacre of people in history,” Pence said.
Describing the horrors of the Holocaust and the salvation of the prisoners of Auschwitz, the US vice president never mentioned the Soviet Union, which made a key contribution to the defeat of the Third Reich and the liberation of Jews who were in ghettos and concentration camps during the Nazi occupation of Europe. About six million people became victims of the Holocaust, a significant portion of whom died in Auschwitz.
At the same time, in his speech, Pence noted the need to honor the memory of “all the allied forces, including more than two million American soldiers who, having left their homes and suffered terrible losses, freed the continent from oppression by tyranny.”
“And finally, we pay tribute to the non-Jews who heroically saved countless lives - those whom the people of Israel call the“ righteous people of the world, ”Pence added.
Not a word about the Red Army
Auschwitz was liberated on January 27, 1945 by the army of the 1st Ukrainian Front. The liquidation of the Nazi forces defending the concentration camp took place as part of the Wisla-Oder offensive operation (January 12 - February 3, 1945), as a result of which almost the entire territory of Poland was liberated.
Speaking in Jerusalem at the forum “Keeping the memory of the Holocaust, fighting anti-Semitism”, Putin said that the commander of the 1st Ukrainian Front, Marshal Ivan Konev, “having received a report about the atrocities committed in Auschwitz, forbade himself to even see this camp.”
- View of the snowy Auschwitz-Birkenau camp immediately after liberation
- © US Holocaust Memorial Museum, courtesy of Mark Chrzanowski
“In this hell, where people from different countries were driven for torture, monstrous experiments and mass extermination, hundreds and hundreds of thousands of people of different nationalities died. More than half of them are Jews, ”Putin said.
The President recalled that 40% of the victims of the Holocaust were citizens of the USSR. The Russian leader also emphasized that “the end to the barbaric plans” of the Nazis was put primarily by the Soviet people.
According to Putin, "the memory of the Holocaust will be a lesson and a warning only if it is complete, without exemptions and omissions." However, now, as the president noted, the memory of the war is increasingly becoming "the object of a political, momentary, current conjuncture."
Interviewed by RT experts noted that the topic of the Red Army's contribution to the elimination of "death factories" is extremely politicized. Some countries, for example, the USA, Poland and Ukraine, are trying to cross out the feat of Soviet troops from world history. In this context, the statement by Michael Pence is the most vivid confirmation of this, analysts say.
“I have no doubt that the Vice President of the United States quite consciously did not say that the Soviet soldiers opened the gates of Auschwitz. The emphasis in his speech was placed on the American army and the abstract "allied forces." Pence did not say a word about the Red Army and the Soviet Union, ”said Alexander Dyukov, director general of the Historical Memory Foundation, in an interview with RT.
According to the expert, Pence’s statement reflects the prevailing attitude in the political elite of the United States towards the contribution of the Soviet Union to saving Jews from mass killings and bullying. At the same time, Western historical science as a whole “quite adequately” estimates the role of the Red Army in the fight against the Holocaust, says Dyukov.
"The US leadership in the person of Pence defiantly ignores the role of the USSR in the release of prisoners of the" death factories. This is an unacceptable act of blasphemy. How can, for example, forget about the feat of Soviet military doctors who saved the half-dead people who were at the time of liberation in Auschwitz? The Germans thought that these prisoners would die from exhaustion, but they survived, ”Dyukov emphasized.
In a conversation with RT, the head of the Bureau of Military-Political Analysis, Alexander Mikhailov, stated that the United States “has no moral right” to discuss its role in the release of prison camps, while ignoring the contribution of the Soviet Union.
“There were no American citizens in the concentration camps. The United States did not suffer from the Holocaust. Yes, the Americans liberated several concentration camps, but it was the Soviet soldiers who saved the prisoners of the largest "death factories". Our losses in the battles with the Nazis in Europe are not comparable either. What Pence said in Jerusalem is disgusting both from the moral and ethical point of view, and from the point of view of historical authenticity, ”Mikhailov said.
The game of nationalist feelings
Previously, they tried to rewrite the history of the liberation of Auschwitz in Kiev and Warsaw. On January 23, 2015, a few days before the 70th anniversary of the salvation of the prisoners of this "death factory," the deputy head of the administration of the then president of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko, Valery Chaly, said that Auschwitz and a significant part of Europe were liberated by the "Ukrainians".
A few days earlier, on January 21, the Polish Foreign Minister Grzegorz Schetyna expressed a similar point of view. On the air of Polish Radio, he said that the "Ukrainian soldiers" saved the prisoners of Auschwitz. He later explained that he only "wanted to make it clear that there were many Ukrainians in the 60th army, which liberated the south of Poland and the Auschwitz concentration camp."
- Soviet orderlies take out emaciated child from Auschwitz camp hut
- © US Holocaust Memorial Museum
Commenting on Schetyna’s statement, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov rebuked his colleague in an attempt to “play on some kind of nationalistic feelings.” He called the behavior of the Polish minister blasphemous and cynical, recalling that Auschwitz was liberated by representatives of different nationalities.
According to the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation, 39 nationalities fought in the 60th army of the 1st Ukrainian Front - “Russians, Ukrainians, Belarusians, Armenians, Ossetians, Georgians and many others who participated shoulder to shoulder in the release of prisoners from a death camp.”
As Alexander Dyukov explained, reasoning about the “Ukrainian soldiers” is a product of the mythologization of history.
“The fronts were not formed on a national basis, and representatives of various peoples of the USSR, including Ukrainians and Russians, served in the 100th Lviv Division, which entered Auschwitz. This connection with the battles went from Central Russia to the Czech Republic, ending the war by participating in the Prague offensive operation (May 6–11, 1945), ”Dyukov recalled.
Alexander Mikhailov believes that the leaders of Ukraine, Poland and the Western countries will continue to “continue to advance on historical truth”, trying to belittle the role of the Soviet Union in the liberation of concentration camps and Eastern Europe.
“It is highly probable that the statements that we have been observing in recent years are only the beginning of a large-scale campaign to discredit our country by denigrating the immortal feat accomplished by the Soviet people, giving freedom to the Jewish people and European countries. Nevertheless, I think that Russia will quite successfully be able to withstand this blasphemous information-political campaign, ”Mikhailov emphasized.