Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Belarus: Press Release about Commemoration Events in Minsk

Belarus: Plans for Commemoration of Annihilation of Minsk Ghetto on 65th Anniversary

Following is a press release sent to me from the Embassy (which?) of Belarus. I have not worked on any projects in Belarus for many years, so am not current with developments about Jewish sites and Holocaust memorials. This report mentions the inauguration of some new commemorative plaques and stones as well as host of other activities. I welcome information, comments, reports and photos from readers about this and other news from Belarus.

Main commemorative events dedicated to the victims of the Minsk Ghetto are to be held in Minsk on the state level


On October 20 – 23, 2008 the main events dedicated to the 65th Anniversary of Minsk Ghetto annihilation will be held on the state level in the capital of Belarus – Minsk – with the participation of citizens of Israel - survivors of ghetto and veterans.

The dates of the events are coordinated by the Belarusian Government with the leaders of the Jewish community of the country. The events include:

– mourning meeting in honour of the 65th Anniversary of Minsk Ghetto annihilation at the memorial “Yama”;
– funeral procession within the territory of the Ghetto in memory of the Holocaust in Belarus;
– public gathering dedicated to the 65th Anniversary of Minsk Ghetto annihilation and policy of genocide on the territory of the Republic of Belarus.
– inauguration of the memorial plate at a place of annihilation of the 5000 prisoners of Ghetto;
– inauguration of the memorial stone at a place in memory of deported and annihilated Jews from Keln;
– book exhibition about Holocaust on the territory of Belarus in the National Library.
– inauguration of the exhibitions dedicated to the Minsk Ghetto;

Starting from October 15 in Minsk (Museum of the Great Patriotic War) the exhibition dedicated to the Minsk Ghetto will take place;

For the October 17 in Minsk-city Palace of young people and children is planned the awards ceremony of the schoolchildren-winners of the contest “Holocaust. History and present”

Israeli survivors of ghetto and veterans will be represented by Association of Immigrants from Belarus; Association of Concentration Camps and Ghetto Survivors; Union of Partisans, Underground Fighters and Ghetto Rebels; Union of Veterans of the Second World War – Fighters Against Nazism; Association of Disabled Veterans and Partisans of Fight Against Nazism.

The planned events are named “main” due to the fact that they conclude the series of steps commemorating the Feat and the Catastrophe. These steps Belarus undertakes during the whole year under the auspices of the Government of Belarus.

The Government of Belarus established the Organizing Committee in charge of holding the commemorative events dedicated to the 65th Anniversary of Minsk Ghetto Annihilation. It unites the representatives of more than 20 state and public bodies.

In Israel commemorating event dedicated to the 65th Anniversary of Minsk Ghetto annihilation was held on June 22, 2008 according to the initiative of the Embassy of Belarus in Israel and Yad Vashem Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Authority. Among the participants of the event were Minister of Pensioners Affairs, Members of Knesset, natives of Belarus.

In the second largest ghetto on the territory of the former USSR organized by Nazis – in Minsk 65 years ago were killed about 100 000 people.

About 10 000 Jews escaped from Ghetto mainly with the assistance of Belarusians and joined partisans movement.

The Nazis did not succeed in sowing the seeds of anti-Semitism on the occupied territory of Belarus. There are 680 Belarusian Righteous Among the Nations now. If only the thorough search of the citizens of my country who saved the lives of their neighbors-Jews, had continued in 1967 not in 1990 (the period of absence of the diplomatic relations between USSR and Israel) Belarus would have been the leader in the number of Righteous Among the Nations.

Mutual aid of Belarusians and Jews during the Second World War is an integral part of the unique friendly neighborhood of two peoples which counts six centuries.

During past six centuries Jewish people felt more secure in Belarus in comparison with the countries of the region. There were almost no pogroms (massacres). Belarusians had never initiated pogroms. This position is confirmed by museum of Jewish history and culture, created by Jewish community of Belarus.

The World War II is common sorrow and common ordeal both for Belarusians and for Jewish. It is terrible but even these horrible figures we have in common: during the WW II was killed every third Belarusian and every third Jew.

Press Service
Embassy of Belarus

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