Holocaust commemorations: ‘Putin is building new camps’, says Polish PM

Poland’s prime minister on Friday accused Russian President Vladimir Putin of ‘building new camps in the east’, on the 78th anniversary of the Red Army’s liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau Nazi death camp , the date on which the memory of the victims of the Holocaust is honored. “On the day of the liberation of the German Hitler death camp Auschwitz-Birkenau, let us remember that Putin is building new camps in the east”, wrote Mateusz Morawiecki on his Facebook site, calling for support for the Ukraine so that history “does not come full circle”.

Echo of remarks made by Zelensky in October 2022

The head of the Polish government did not make more statements on his accusations against Russia, which echo remarks made last October by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. The latter then mentioned the prison of Olenivka, in the eastern regions of Ukraine in the hands of pro-Russian separatists, which he described as “a concentration camp where our prisoners are detained”. UN investigators said last year they had collected information on more than 400 arbitrary detentions and disappearances organized by Russian forces in Ukraine.

Various organizations and institutions have also denounced the attacks against civilian populations, the conditions of detention of civilians and prisoners of war, the forced transfer or filtering of Ukrainian citizens – including children – to Russia and the murders and sexual violence tantamount to executions. “Firmly and together, we must oppose the criminal demons who are committing genocide in Eastern Europe,” insisted Mateusz Morawiecki.

Russian representatives not invited to commemorations

Unlike in previous years, Russian representatives were not invited to the celebrations for the anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau camp this year, due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Attendees at these ceremonies have included religious dignitaries, Holocaust survivors and Douglas Emhoff, the Jewish husband of US Vice President Kamala Harris.

Built in occupied Poland, Auschwitz-Birkenau, where one million European Jews – out of the six million who perished in total – died between 1940 and 1945, is the symbol of this genocide perpetrated by Nazi Germany. This camp, where some 80,000 non-Jewish Poles, 25,000 Roma and 20,000 Soviet soldiers also died, was liberated by the Red Army on January 27, 1945.

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