July 26, 2021

Putin at the inauguration of the first major Holocaust monument in Moscow

JTA – The Russian president attended the inauguration of a memorial considered by some to be the very first monument dedicated to the Holocaust in Moscow.

The monument, which shows hands pulling the leaves of a door, was unveiled at the Jewish Museum in Moscow. It commemorates the Jewish resistance fighters.

“Even though about half of the victims of the Holocaust were citizens of our country, Moscow did not have a distinctive monument” for the genocide, noted German Zakharyayev, president of the STMEGI association of mountain Jews, in an interview. granted to the magazine Moskvich last week.

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Moscow had made sculptures in tribute to personalities who saved Jews during the Shoah and a plaque in memory of the Jewish anti-fascist committee, he admitted. But there was no monument in the city equivalent to those in Berlin, Warsaw or Budapest.

A view of the memorial honoring Jewish resistance in Nazi concentration camps during World War II during its inauguration at the Jewish Museum and Tolerance Center in Moscow, June 4, 2019 (Sergei Ilnitsky / Pool / AFP )

Soviet authorities rarely recognized the specificity of the Holocaust in literature and monuments, which only mention “Soviet citizens” killed during World War II.

Putin called the Holocaust “one of the greatest tragedies” and “one of the most significant chapters” in history during the inauguration ceremony held at the Jewish Museum on Tuesday.

Putin and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu jointly took part in laying the foundation stone for the monument last year.

Russian President Vladimir Putin accompanied by the head of the Russian Federation of Jewish Communities and director of the museum Alexander Boroda, on the left, by businessman Viktor Vekselberg, second from the right, and the Chief Rabbi of Russia, Berel Lazar, on the right, next to the stone of the memorial erected for members of the resistance in Nazi concentration camps during World War II, at the Jewish Museum and Center for Tolerance in Moscow, Russia, January 29, 2018 (Courtesy) : Maxim Shemetov / Pool Photo via AP)

Viktor Vekselberg, chairman of the museum’s board, funded the construction of the monument, which cost around $ 276,000.

His entire paternal family had been imprisoned in a ghetto near his hometown of Drohobych in what has become Ukraine, he said. “Only my father managed to survive because he had fled earlier to join the militias,” added Vekselberg, who called the completion of the monument a “symbolic turning point” and a major event.