InvestigationLe Monde explores the history of the bonds between the two countries and the way in which hostile memories collide. Part III, the competition for their respective roles in the victory over Nazi Germany in 1945.
“Russia – Ukraine war stories” (3/3). Auschwitz-Birkenau, January 27, 2015. About forty heads of state and government celebrate 70 yearsAnd Anniversary of the Red Army’s discovery of the camp in which over a million prisoners were killed – most of them Jews. A leader and not least is missing: Vladimir Putin. To justify this absence, the Kremlin clarified, a week ago, that it had not received an official invitation. In fact, an official invitation was not sent, and the heads of state and government who made the trip to Poland came on their own initiative.
The real reason for Vladimir Putin’s absence lies elsewhere: almost a year after the annexation of Crimea and the start of the war in Donbass, the Russian president does not want to visit a NATO member state, which is one of Ukraine’s most staunch supporters and with whom it has terrible relations.
Warsaw, for its part, has not tried to settle things. On January 22, five days before the commemoration, Polish Foreign Minister Grzegorz Schetina said on the radio: “Ukrainian soldiers were present on that day in January 1945” Where the Red Army discovered Auschwitz. Simple and true statement. This is true, because the unit that entered Auschwitz for the first time was led by a Ukrainian Jew, Anatoly Shapiro. Simplification, because the 1st Ukrainian Front – the name of the Soviet Army Corps to which this unit belonged – included not only Ukrainians, but also Russians, Georgians, Chechens, Tatars, in other words men from all over the Soviet Union.
Recognition of the Ukrainian contribution to the defeat of the thirdAnd The Reich came to blow up Putin’s vision of a Ukraine plagued by Nazi ideology
Unsurprisingly, the words of the head of Polish diplomacy infuriated Moscow. “It is very hard to imagine that a government official of this level could be so ignorant, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov responded on the same day. Some individuals must stop making fun of history and put aside their anti-Russian hysteria, which leads them to disrespect those who did not spare their lives to save Europe. »
Seven months earlier, on June 6, 2014, the commemoration of a major event of World War II had offended the Russians:And Anniversary of the Normandy landings. This time Vladimir Putin was there. But he had to accept the existence of a peer who would do well otherwise: the newly elected Ukrainian president, Petro Poroshenko. At first, he was not invited. But two months after the annexation of Crimea and the start of the Donbas War, representatives of the Ukrainian community in France finally persuaded the Elysee to invite him. They found an unstoppable argument in this: since the Red Army was subservient to the whole of the USSR and not only to Russia, why do we keep the tribute to Vladimir Putin? And why not bring Petro Poroshenko, when Ukraine, after Belarus, was the Soviet republic that suffered the greatest losses during the Second World War (just under 7 million people, or 16.3% of its population, compared to 12.7% for Russia)?
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