Russian diplomacy enraged with Auschwitz Museum snub

Maria Zakharova, spokesperson for the Russian Foreign Ministry. Photo: Sefa Karacan/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

The day when the Red Army entered the Auschwitz death camp and expelled the few remaining Germans, is celebrated worldwide as Holocaust Remembrance Day. This year the Auschwitz Memorial and Museum did not extend an invitation to commemoration to the Russian Ambassador to Poland, the decision motivated by Russia’s aggression against Ukraine, which includes genocidal practices not unlike those employed by the Nazis. When the Russians were denied the possibility of using the memory of Shoah as a mat to wipe their Ukrainian-blood-soaked jackboots on, it ended with them seeing red.

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The statement made by the Museum’s spokesperson clearly laid out the reason for the Russian Ambassador to Poland not being invited to the commemorations. It is because of Russia’s “aggression against free and independent Ukraine”. This will be the first time the Russian Ambassador is not invited to the event.

Piotr Cywiński, the director of the Museum, explained that the commemorations are organised primarily for the former prisoners of Auschwitz.

As for the issue of the Russian Ambassador, Mr Cywiński said it was obvious that he could not, at least in the current situation, “sign any letter to the Russian ambassador that had an inviting tone”.

“Russia will need an immeasurably long time and profound self-reflection after this conflict [ends], in order to be readmitted to the civilised world club,” remarked Cywiński.

Russians throw a temper tantrum

In an interview given to the Russian “Izvestia” daily, Russian Ambassador to Poland Sergey Andreyev complained about being denied the voice, which he apparently wanted to use to remind the few surviving prisoners, as well as of course the representatives of the media, that it was the Soviet Red Army that liberated the death camp.

Maria Zakharova, the occasionally tired and emotional spokesperson for the Russian Foreign Ministry, accused Poland of attempting to “re-write history and erase the memory of nazi atrocities and Soviet hero-liberators”. In the same Telegram post, she assured such attempts are futile in spite of “efforts by [Russia’s] European ‘non-partners’”.

According to Zakharova, Polish authorities intend to totally “erase the historical, and now inconvenient truth about the liberators”, so that “Russian faces do not stir the German and Polish ‘conscience’”.

Referring to the bad conscience Poles should supposedly have for what the Germans did to the prisoners of Auschwitz remains a mystery.

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As for the attempts to re-write or erase history, Ms Zakharova and her fellows are experts here. Since Putin came to power, Russia has gone back to promoting the Soviet version of history, flouting the USSR’s role in defeating Germany, while conveniently omitting the fact that the outbreak of the war, and therefore such atrocities as the Holocaust, would not have been possible had it not been for the two totalitarian states, Russia and Germany, carving up Europe in the Ribbentrop-Molotov pact.

Zakharova naturally was also fuming about the Museum snubbing the Russian Ambassador.

“This year the representatives of the successor state of the USSR, whose soldiers saved the world from the Hitlerite plague, were not invited to the anniversary of the liberation of the camp!” she wrote.

Aside from the aforementioned obvious fact that the Soviets would not have had to save anyone from the Nazis had they not gotten into bed with them first, not to mention the countless atrocities perpetrated by themselves against the peoples of Central and Eastern Europe during and after the war, Zakharova appears to have also forgotten that the Red Army was made up not only of Russians, as the Kremlin would like everyone to think, but also soldiers from other Soviet Republics.

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Admittedly, Russia is the country that most loudly proclaims its Soviet past and does so with pride. Ukrainians also fought in the Red Army and were present at the liberation of Auschwitz. At the same time, modern Ukrainians regard the time of the Soviet Union as a period of oppression, including prior attempts to erase the Ukrainian language, culture, and nationhood.


Germans established the Auschwitz concentration camp in 1940, in the former barracks of the Polish military in the town of Oświecim. The camp initially served as a prison and labour camp, but in 1942 the Auschwitz II-Birkenau expansion of the camp was opened, and in addition to serving as a labour camp, it contained gas chambers and crematoria. Together with other sub-camps falling under the administration of the Auschwitz complex, it became a death camp.

Throughout its operation, the Germans exterminated at least 1.1 million people in the camp using various means. Most of the victims were Jews from Poland or were deported to the camp from other parts of Europe under German control, followed by Poles, Romanis, Soviet POWs, and others.

Most of the prisoners who had not been killed were force-marched to other camps, many dying along the way, before the arrival of the Soviet Red Army. The 7,000 prisoners who remained were liberated on January 27, 1945, by the soldiers of the 60th Army of the First Ukrainian Front.