Moscow, January 29, Interfax - Attempts to deny the Holocaust and to play down the Soviet Union's decisive contribution to the victory over Nazi Germany must be resolutely opposed, Russian President Vladimir Putin said.
"Today, inter-religious and inter-ethnic accord is the basis of our statehood. Non-acceptance of anti-Semitism, of any forms of xenophobia and ethnic animosity, bring Russia and Israel closer to each other," Putin said at an event marking International Holocaust Remembrance Day and the anniversary of the breaking of the siege of Leningrad.
Russia and Israel closely cooperate "in the cause of opposing attempts to falsify history and revise the results of the Second World War," Putin said.
"The denial of the Holocaust and the belittling of the Soviet Union's decisive contribution to the victory over Nazi Germany - such attempts must be resolutely opposed," Putin said.
Some six million Jews, among them hundreds of thousands of Soviet citizens, fell victim to the "Nazi extermination machine," according to the materials of the Nuremberg trials, the president said.
"Around three million Soviet prisoners of war perished in death camps. People of all ages and ethnicities were tortured, burned, and tormented. We grieve for all of the victims, for everyone who gave their lives for the sake of liberating the world from the Nazis, from their barbarity and atrocities. We will forever remember the path to great victory," Putin said.
The uprising at Sobibor, which was the biggest act of POW resistance, is astonishing for the courage and strength of the people who attacked the enemy with their bare hands, he said.
"The Nazis created around 40,000 camps and ghettoes around Europe. Children, old people, women, and morally exhausted people were subjected to terror and merciless violence, but they did not give up," Putin said.
The fight against Nazism was waged not only on the front, but also in the hearts and minds of millions of people, he said. "And in this fight, the Nazis lost long before their total military defeat. Strength of spirit and faith in victory also helped residents of heroic Leningrad to hold out," Putin said.
That city's inhabitants lived through 900 tragic days, he said. "Like Holocaust victims, they went through death, torture, suffering, and loss. Their feat is one of the most outstanding, most astonishing mass feats by a people. We revere their resilience; their pain still reverberates in our hearts," Putin said.
The Soviet Union took the full blow of Nazi strikes, and people of various nationalities fought shoulder-to-shoulder against the enemy, he said. "Thanks to their solidarity, the Soviet people won the grand great victory," Putin said, noting that to this day, inter-ethnic accord is the basis of Russian statehood.