This forum has been tolled by a tragic event – sixty five years ago at Babi Yar outskirts of Kyiv the Nazis had commenced carnage, in which more than 100,000 Soviet citizens of different ethnicities – the Jews, the Ukrainians, the Russians, the Gypsies, adults and children, men and women – would be annihilated.
This massacre was and still remains one of the most tragic events in modern history along with Auschwitz, Maidanek, Treblinka, Drobitsky Yar in Harkiv, and the Siege of Leningrad.
What happened at Babi Yar for two years, starting September 1941, is beyond human comprehension. In just two days of September 1941, some 34,000 people were executed here, mostly women, children and the elderly.
Time is powerless to erase this kind of crime from human memory. It shall remain forever embedded in the consciousness of generations. Those days 65 years ago spelled the beginning of the genocide that the Nazis waged against people they didn’t like which, in some cases, were entire ethnicities.
Today we bow our heads to the innocent victims of Babi Yar, all those who perished in the crucible of the most horrible and cruel war in the history of mankind to date.
Xenophobia and its twisted brainchild – anti-Semitism – reached their apogee during WWII, the years of the Holocaust. The Babi Yar “death factory” pleads to both our memory and our reason. The Russian government and Russian people view the massacre at Babi Yar not merely as the national tragedy of the Jewish people, but as an all-human catastrophe.
Nazism was defeated in 1945, but the roots that nurtured it were never fully extricated from the ground. They still produce their poisonous sprouts of extreme nationalism, religious fanaticism, and craving for world domination.
A highly dangerous trend has recently emerged in certain parts of civilized Europe to glorify the Nazis, treat the SS brute squads as heroes, holding parades and processions of new-Nazi nature. What is this but desecration of the memory of the victims of the Nazi reign of terror.
This forum must appeal to all the sensible human beings worldwide: throw away your petty disagreements, and unite against our common enemy – ethnic and nationalist prejudice of any kind. So far, we regret to say that xenophobia, hatred of dissent, and contempt for human life have survived. It is the mission of all sensible people all over the world not merely to denounce such manifestations, but to fight against them with all of the might of law and public opinion. No one has the right or the liberty to remain tolerant to nationalism, xenophobia, racial and religious hatred or anti-Semitism.
Remembering the bitter lessons of the past, we cannot fail to realize that the world today is faced with completely new challenges and threats. International terrorism is at least as dangerous and cruel as Nazism. In essence, today’s terrorists use the same forms and methods the Nazis used during WWII, killing innocent civilians, in many cases out of ethnic hatred alone. The Nazis and the terrorists of today are “as thick as thieves.” There were no “good” Nazis or bad” Nazis, and there can be no “good” terrorists or “bad” terrorists. In this, “double standards” are unacceptable. Politicians, statesmen and regular citizens must be aware of the very real terrorist threat to human civilization. For the sake of a peaceful, secure future, it is the duty of all people of good will all over the world to join forces in their struggle against international terrorism, the arch nemesis of civilization in the 21 st century.
I would like to thank Ukraine for hosting this sad, but critically needed ceremony.
Today we are remembering all the victims of Nazi terror at Babi Yar. We bow down to their memory. And we feel it would be fair to pay a tribute to the virtue of those who by sacrifice of their life and their blood, by their tears and sufferings in those fated years had been hastening our common victory over Nazism.