WARSAW — The Auschwitz museum said Wednesday that because of the war in Ukraine, Russia will be excluded from the upcoming ceremony marking 78 years since the Red Army liberated the Nazi death camp.
“Given the aggression against a free and independent Ukraine, representatives of the Russian Federation have not been invited to attend this year’s commemoration,” Piotr Sawicki, spokesman for the museum at the site of the former camp, told AFP.
Friday is the 78th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp built by Nazi Germany in occupied Poland — a date that has become Holocaust Memorial Day.
Until now, Russia has always taken part in the commemoration held every year on January 27, with its delegate speaking at the main ceremony.
Museum director Piotr Cywinski said it was obvious that he could “sign no letter to the Russian ambassador having an inviting tone” in the current context.
“I hope that will change in the future but we have a long way to go,” he said, according to the PAP news agency. “Russia will need an extremely long time and very deep self-examination after this conflict in order to return to gatherings of the civilized world.”
The museum denounced the Russian offensive as a “barbaric act” on the day Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24 last year.
Auschwitz-Birkenau has become a symbol of Nazi Germany’s genocide of six million European Jews, one million of whom died at the camp between 1940 and 1945 along with more than 100,000 non-Jews.