It is a great honour for me to address the readers of the digital edition of “The Portuguese Jewish News”. In these difficult days, when the covid-19 pandemic does not seem to loosen its grip on populations, the Jewish community in Portugal continues to establish new channels of communication and promote not only the traditions and culture of the Jewish people, but also the historic memory about cruelty and inhumanity of the Nazi regime.
In January 2021, we witnessed together the inauguration of the Oporto Holocaust Museum, which became the first of its kind on the Iberian Peninsula. Since then, The Russian Embassy in Portugal has strongly supported the activities of this museum contributing with the organization of photo exhibitions that depict the most notable moments of the USSR’s participation in the Second World War – known to all Russians as the Great Patriotic War – and promoting the museum’s agenda through our own info resources.
In the context of recent attempts to rewrite history by some countries that seek to gain political momentum sacrificing the historic truth – be it sometimes bitter – all the nations have to work together to preserve the memory of our ancestors so that the horrors of Holocaust and purposeful annihilation of people never come to be repeated. In our country, where the suffering and grief was known at first hand, we do everything to contribute to this goal providing the necessary state policy initiatives and cooperating closely with our foreign partners.
It is worth mentioning that on January 29, 2018, the President of the Russian Federation, together with the Israeli Prime-Minister, laid the first stone for the monument to the heroes of the Resistance in Nazi concentration camps and Jewish ghettos that was unveiled in the Jewish Museum and Tolerance Centre in Moscow in the following year.
On January 23, 2020, the Russian President participated – as one of the few speakers – in the commemorative event held as part of the “Remembering the Holocaust: Fighting Antisemitism” international forum at the Yad Vashem memorial complex in Jerusalem. In his address, Vladimir Putin noted that it was in the occupied territories of the Soviet Union that the Nazi’s cold-blooded killing machine annihilated the biggest number of Jews. That is to say, approximately 1,4 million Jews were killed in Ukraine, 220,000 people were killed in Lithuania.
In Latvia 77.000 people were killed and only a few hundred survived the Holocaust. This number represented 95 percent of the pre-war Jewish population of the country before the war.
As the Ambassador of the Russian Federation to Portugal, I cannot help mentioning the praiseworthy attitude of the local Government and the Portuguese people towards the historic memory about the Second World War. At the official level, it has been annually confirmed in the form of resolutions of the Assembly of the Republic, which has always marked the key role of the Red Army in the liberation of the Auschwitz concentration camp that became the terrifying symbol of the horrors prepared for the humanity by the Nazi Germany.
I would like to thank all the members of the Oporto Jewish Community and its President Mr. Yigal Dias Ben Zion for their untiring efforts in promoting the knowledge about Holocaust, especially between the younger generations. I sincerely hope that this new digital resource will serve a helpful instrument of the preservation of the historic truth not only in Portugal and Iberian Peninsula, but also in whole Europe and worldwide.
I wish you all the best in this fascinating endeavor.