7 июля 2011

Welcome address by Eleonora MITROFANOVA, Permanent Delegate of the Russian Federation to UNESCO, President of the Executive Board of UNESCO

Dear Colleagues, First of all, let me say that it’s an honour for me to participate in such an important event. Before beginning my intervention, I would like to express my deep condolences to all victims of the Holocaust. I do hope that people in the world remember what the terrible word “Holocaust” means. The Holocaust was the systematic, bureaucratic, state-sponsored persecution and murder of the Jewish people by the Nazi regime and its collaborators. In 1933, the Jewish population of Europe stood at over nine million. Most European Jews lived in the countries that Nazi Germany have been occupying or been under their influence during the World War II. By the end of this War in 1945, the Nazis and their collaborators have killed nearly two out of every three European Jews as part of the so called project “Final Solution” to murder all Jews of Europe. This history also tells us that as Nazi tyranny spread across Europe, millions of other people were persecuted and murdered just because of their perceived “racial inferiority”. We do also remember other victims that included 200,000 Roma (Gypsies) and at least 200,000 mentally or physically disabled people, mainly Germans, living in institutional properties, who were murdered in the so called Euthanasia Programme. This plague of the 20th Century also touched upon my country. Between two and three million Soviet prisoners of the World War II were murdered or died of starvation, neglect or maltreatment. Following the invasion of the Soviet Union on 22 June 1941, the special Nazi mobile killing units and later, militarized battalions of Order Police officials, moved behind Nazi lines to carry out mass-murder operations against Jews, Roma, and Soviet state officials. During this War my country lost 26,6 mln. citizens in total. Between 1941 and 1944, Nazi authorities deported millions of Jews from Germany, from occupied territories, and from the countries of many of its allies to ghettos and to concentration camps, where they were murdered in specially developed gas-chambers. Especially vulnerable in the era of the Holocaust were children. The Nazis advocated killing children of “unwanted” or “dangerous” groups in accordance with their ideological views, either as part of the “racial struggle” or as a measure of preventative security. The Nazi and their collaborators killed as many as 1.5 million children, including over a million Jewish children and tens of thousands of Romani and Polish children, children residing in the occupied part of the Soviet Union, and even German children with physical and mental disabilities. That’s why we have to remember that the Holocaust is a dramatic period in the world history and the history of the Jewish people. And we have to do our best in order to preserve in our memory of that for the benefit the future generations. As you know, the UNESCO’s mission is to promote peace building it in the minds of peoples through education, science, culture and communication. The youth is given a clear priority in all our programmes since the young people are our future. We have to teach them to be tolerant and to better understand each other. Tolerance is one of the important aspects making a foundation for the “new humanism” that is needed in the contemporary world, and that is why UNESCO advocating for it today. For all these reasons we really appreciate this essay contest and applaud today’s laureates who decided to make their input in our important common work. Thank for your attention.