«The whole truth has yet to be told about these crimes”


Statement from Memorial with regard to the reaction by Russia’s Council of the Federation to the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly Resolution “Divided Europe Reunited: promoting human rights and civil liberties in the OSCE region in the 21st century”

The joint statement ( ) of the councils of the chambers of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation from 7 July 2009 is an incredible document. One has the impression that the authors of the statement had simply not read the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly Resolution, passed a few days earlier, which they criticize.

There is nothing in that Resolution which could be interpreted as “attempts to forget inconvenient facts”.

On the contrary, it “reiterates its call upon all participating States to open their historical and political archives”.

There is not one word which slurs the memory of the millions of Soviet soldiers who fell in the struggle against Nazism.

Condemnation of the crimes of the Stalinist regime can in no way insult those soldiers who liberated Europe from Nazism – they were neither the property of this regime, nor a part of it. They were defending their country, their Homeland, and not Stalin’s regime.

There is not a hint of rehabilitation of Nazi criminals in the Resolution. The Stalinist and Nazi regimes are placed “on one level” in the Resolution in one single aspect, this being that both regimes committed the most heinous crimes against social, religious and many other groups, and against entire peoples.

This assessment is not subject to any doubt. The Stalinist and Nazi regimes were inhuman and terrorist. The peoples of Russia, like many peoples in Europe, experienced that in full measure.

OSCE has supported the proposal of the European Parliament to declare 23 August Remembrance Day for the Victims of both regimes. One can and should argue long about the choice of a specific symbolic date.

For example, in our view, the Soviet-German Secret Protocols of 1939, signed on that day which divided spheres of influence in Eastern Europe (there is not a word about the actual protocols in the Federal Assembly’s statement) were not the first, the only or even, perhaps, the most terrible crime of the Stalinist and Nazi regimes.

Solovki and Kolyma, the campaign against “kulaks” resulted in the famine of 1932-1933, the Great Terror, Dachau, Buchenwald, Kristallnacht”, the Nuremburg race laws, all of these were before August 1939.

Nor does the run-up to the Second World War merely boil down to 23 August 1939 – it is unlikely that anyone has doubts on this score.

Nonetheless the choice of 23 August as Remembrance Day has its reasons. The pact between the two dictators on dividing up the entire region was and remains for many a vivid example of amoral and cynical

politics and a symbol of the crimes of the two totalitarian regimes, committed both together and separately

Today, after many decades, the whole truth has yet to be told about these crimes. Many of these crimes have still not received proper historical and legal assessment.

The leaders of Russia’s Parliament,  a country that perhaps suffered most of all both from Nazism and from Stalinism, instead of looking for “anti-Russian attacks” where there is no whiff of them, should concern itself with immortalizing the memory of the victims of Nazism and Stalinism, with opening up archives containing documents about the State terror, as well as, in cooperation with the parliaments of other European countries, promoting public understanding of the crimes of the totalitarian regimes and overcoming their consequences.

The Board of the International “Memorial” Society

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