Wiesenthal Centre Protests Revisionist Plaque at Mass Grave on 70th Anniversary of Russia's 'Babi Yar'

"Centre to provide films to counteract Volga German student glorification of Hitler in Rostov high-schools"

14 August 2012
Rostov-on-the-Don, Southern Russia,

The Russian Holocaust Centre of Moscow, in it's ongoing cooperation with the Simon Wiesenthal Centre - and Verbe et Lumiere, its educational arm - invited the Centre's Director for International Relations, Dr Shimon Samuels, to keynote the Zmievskaya Balka (Snake Ravine) 70th anniversary conference in Rostov-on-the-Don.

At the Zmievskaya  Balka (snake ravine) mass graves where 27,000, mostly Jews, were murdered. Dr. Samuels places a stone at the eternal flame.
L-R: Dr. Samuels; Dr. Ilya Altman, President of the Russian Holocaust Centre; Israel Emeritus Chief Rabbi Meir Lau, and Yuri Kaner, President of Russian Jewish Congress. Dr. Samuels (at podium) presenting at the Rostov conference.

Samuels, speaking on "Wannsee: Contemporary Lessons of the Holocaust in an Ever Again World", protested the 2011 removal by Russian authorities of a plaque - placed at the mass grave on the outskirts of Rostov in 2006 - that identified most of the men, women, children and aged victims of the Nazis, as Jews.

The current plaque deletes all Jewish references, in an epitaph to "the peaceful citizens of Rostov-on-the-Don and Soviet prisoners of war."

City representative Nekrasov stated at the ceremony, "Lists compiled by functionaries sent people to their deaths."

Samuels countered, "The plaque's identity theft was a form of 'memoricide', twice murdering the victim - in both life and posterity," and called upon the authorities "to take the opportunity of this 70th anniversary of the greatest Holocaust massacre on Russian territory, compared with the Ukrainian Babi Yar - to promptly return the previous plaque or provide a new truthful narrative."

Among those shot there was the Jewish psychoanalyst, Sabina Spielrein, portrayed in this year's film,"A Dangerous Method".

Former Chief Rabbi of Israel, Meir Lau, attended the proceedings to honour the memory of Rostov resident, Fedor Michovichenko, a Righteous Gentile who protected and saved him as a child prisoner in Buchenwald.

A local teacher reported on comments among Volga German high-school students who denied that Russia's war against Nazi Germany was a "Great Patriotic War" and heroize Hitler as a champion against Communism. The Wiesenthal Centre offered the Russian Holocaust Centre its documentary films, to counteract this new revisionism.

"Each of the over one thousand mourners at the commemoration donned a yellow star armband marked 'Jude'. Though emotionally disturbing, this marked a gesture of defiance. To wear it inspired our collective obligation to the faithful transmission of memory across the generations," concluded Samuels.

For further information, please contact Shimon Samuels at +33.609.77.01.58, join the Center on Facebook, www.facebook.com/simonwiesenthalcenter, or follow @simonwiesenthal for news updates sent direct to your Twitter page or mobile device.

The Simon Wiesenthal Center is one of the largest international Jewish human rights organizations with over 400,000 member families in the United States. It is an NGO at international agencies including the United Nations, UNESCO, the OSCE, the OAS, the Council of Europe and the Latin American Parliament (Parlatino).