Requiem meeting The Gates of Memory

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On 22 June Belarus President Aleksandr Lukashenko took part in the requiem meeting The Gates of Memory dedicated to the opening of the Trostenets Memorial.

Aleksandr Lukashenko laid a wreath at the Gates of Memory monument.

At the meeting Aleksandr Lukashenko said that the memorial in Trostenets is a symbol of condemning the anti-humane policy of Nazism in relation to the peaceful population of Europe.

“The architects have a difficult task to commemorate victims of fascism, preserve the historical truth and give a complete picture of people’s suffering,” the head of state said.

In his words, the memorial should be a visible evidence of the appalling tragedy which occurred in the center of Europe, on the Belarusian soil. “The erection of the Gates of Memory monument has become a truly nationwide project. Charity accounts for the donations received from people and organizations were opened. Part of the funds earned at the nationwide day of voluntary work (subbotnik) was used to build the monument,” Aleksandr Lukashenko stressed.

According to the President, people from many countries share the pain of Trostenets with us. The project attracts many foreign sponsors. The opening ceremony is attended by diplomats and foreign guests. “The memorial in Trostenets is a symbol of condemning the anti-humane policy of Nazism in relation to the peaceful population of Europe. The motto No One Is Forgotten, Nothing Is Forgotten united all of us. We are enormously grateful to those who turn this large-scale project into reality and to those who provided and provide all-round assistance in its implementation,” the head of state emphasized.

The President also noted: “Let this memorial help unite people in the name of kindness and mercy. Let it remind us, our children and grandchildren about the importance of protecting peace and public accord. Let it prevent us from forgetting what heinous tragedies can stem from the ideas of Nazism, intolerance and intention to impose somebody’s will using the power of weapons.”

Aleksandr Lukashenko believes that it is essential to do our utmost to retain the principles humanity, mutual respect and historical truth on our soil.

The President reminded that the biggest death camp in the former Soviet Union was located here, in the neighborhood of the Belarusian village Maly Trostenets. More than 200,000 people were killed here. Among them were not only war prisoners and partisans; there were also civilians, i.e. old people, women, children.

“The heart shrinks with pain when you think of the atrocities and crimes of the Nazis against humankind. People of various nationalities and confessions were brought here in packed echelons. Among those people were not only our compatriots but also people of other European countries – Poland, Germany, Austria, Czechoslovakia. It was a dire death conveyor. Mass execution took place in the area of Blagovshchina, bodies were burnt in the area of Shashkovka,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.

Anticipating the outcome of the war, the Nazis started removing the traces of their crimes in autumn 1943. They dug out the remains of those killed to burn them on wooden racks. An estimated 6,500 prisoners were shot and burnt here three days prior to the liberation of Minsk.

“The land we are standing on is soaked with tears and blood of hundreds of thousands of innocent people. It still keeps their ashes,” the President of Belarus stressed.

He suggested observing a one-minute silence to pay tribute to the memory of all the victims.

“There are wounds that time cannot heal. Countless victims of the Great Patriotic War are one of such open sores. The years of the Nazi occupation left an indelible mark on our land. Burnt villages and destroyed cities, inhuman “death factories” were all aimed at destroying our nation. We should not forget that in Belarus there were about 250 camps for Soviet war prisoners, 350 detention facilities for civil population, 186 Jewish ghettos,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.

The head of state noted: “We venerate and will always remember the victims of that war. The construction of the Trostenets Memorial is a matter of honor for Belarusians.”

At the meeting Aleksandr Lukashenko warned against the attempts to rewrite the history of the Great Patriotic War. “More recently we have frequently heard someone saying: “What do we need this for. Let us forget everything.” A hideous thing hides behind these seemingly harmless words. It is an attempt not only to forget but also rewrite the history of the war, take away the deed of our people. We must not forget it. We must not give this Great Victory away. It is a testimony of the greatness of the Soviet people whose descendants we are,” the head of state stressed.

“The present Europe and the entire world should be grateful for the victory of our fathers and grandfathers who sacrificed their lives,” Aleksandr Lukashenko stressed. In his words, such memorials are not just tribute to victims, it is a reminder of that horrible war. “It should be turned to the future. We should understand that there is no place for war on this heavily populated planet. We, in Belarus, will do our utmost to prevent this tragedy from repetition. These sacred places will remind us of the horrors of that war and inadmissibility of its repetition in the present days,” the head of state said.

The President thanked everyone who attended the ceremony: “Thank you for coming. It proves that we will never betray the things done by our fathers and grandfathers, our mothers, those innocent children and the elderly that perished on this land.”

Aleksandr Lukashenko talked to war veterans after the ceremony. He wished them health and long lives. “You must live. You are the living witnesses of what happened during the years of the Great Patriotic War. We must keep peace in the country and you, veterans, are a guaranty of this peace,” the head of state noted.