Russian officials not invited to Auschwitz camp liberation commemoration

Photo: NurPhoto/ GettyImages

Russian representatives have not been invited to the commemorations of the 78th anniversary of the liberation of the German Auschwitz death camp, which will take place on Friday, the Polish Press Agency (PAP) reported on Wednesday. The decision was made because of Russia’s all-out invasion of Ukraine.

“Due to the aggression against free and independent Ukraine, representatives of the Russian Federation have not been invited to participate in this year’s commemoration of the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz,” Auschwitz Museum spokesman Bartosz Bartyzel told PAP on Wednesday.

Until now, Russia has participated in the ceremonies every year, and its representative has spoken at the main ceremony.

Museum director Piotr Cywiński stressed that the ceremony is organised with former camp prisoners in mind, and it is they who are primarily invited.

Cywiński, in the context of Russia’s aggression, pointed out that it was obvious that he could not “sign any letter to the Russian ambassador that had an inviting tone”. “I hope that this will change in the future, but we have a long way to go,” he emphasised.

The museum director recalled that after Russia’s aggression against Ukraine, the establishment took in 10 female conservatives from Ukraine who were fleeing from under the bombs. “How could I look them in the eye if there was a representative of Russia sitting calmly among the other attendees?” he stressed.

The main anniversary ceremony will begin at noon on Friday, with former prisoners addressing people gathered at the event. The ceremony will conclude with a prayer.

Death camp liberation

The Germans established the Auschwitz camp in 1940 to imprison Poles. Auschwitz II-Birkenau was built two years later and became the most known site of the extermination of Jews. The Germans exterminated at least 1.1 million people, mainly Jews, but also Poles, Roma, Soviet prisoners of war and people of other nationalities. The camp was liberated on 27 January 1945 by soldiers from the 60th Army of the Ukrainian First Front.

27 January is celebrated worldwide as International Holocaust Remembrance Day.