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Statement of the Russian-Jewish Congress, Center and Fund "Holocaust", the Moscow office of Human Rights concerning the removal of the plaque commemorating the victims of the Holocaust in Rostov-on-Do

13th December 2011. This year it is 70 years ago since the Holocaust on the territory of the Soviet Union began. On the sites of the executions the victims were commemorated and monuments were erected, Lithuania declared the year 2011 as the Year of the Holocaust and in Kyiv mourning ceremonies took place with the participation of government representatives , and in many Russian cities other Holocaust was commemorated. In Lyubavichi (Smolensk region) on 10th November a memorial was inaugurated with joint efforts of Jewish and Christian organizations The more surprising therefore are the events at the Zmieskaya balka (Snake Canyon) in Rostov-on-Don, the so-called "Russian Babi Yar."
In October 2004 the mayor signed a resolution on the establishment of a memorial plaque with the inscription: "On 11th and 12 thAugust 1942 27 000 Jews were murdered here by the Nazis. This is the biggest holocaust memorial place in Russia. "The memorial plaque was set up with funds from the Jewish community. But on 29th November 2011t- for the first time in modern Russian history - the text was replaced by the standard formulations of the" peaceful Soviet citizens". According to the decision of the municipal administration the new inscription reads: "Here, in the Snake Canyon in August 1942 more than 27 000 peaceful citizens of Rostov and Soviet prisoners of war were murdered by die Nazi occupators. Among the killed were many nationalities. On the territory of the Soviet Union the Snake Canyon represents the biggest site of mass executions of Soviet citizens by the fascist invaders in the Great Patriotic War "
On this place of terror people of different nationalities lost their lives. The first killed were prisoners of war of the Red Army who were forced to dig the huge ditches. A Russian man followed his wife into death: now the Armenian mother is lying with her children and her husband in the same grave. Here, the Rostov partisans and patients of the psychiatric hospital were killed. We bow our heads in memory of all victims of the Nazis and their helpers (about whom the text does not say a word.) But this place of execution of the Nazi Sonderkommando (special units) was explicitly chosen with the aim of exterminating Jews, and Jews were killed only for the reason for being Jews.
It is of symbolic significance that just in the statement of Pravda from February 1943 about the tragedy in Rostov the word "Jew" for the first time was replaced by "peaceful Soviet citizens". This shows how far this tradition can be traced back in the past of the Soviet press.
Outstanding artists and poets, as the poet Evgeny Evtushenko, Anatoly Kuznezov, Viktor Nekrasov, the composer Dmitry Shostakovitch others stood up for the right to mention the nationality of the principal victims of Babi Yar and other places where executions took place
Russia belonged to the founders of the International Holocaust Remembrance Day: the entire civilized world recognizes the fact of the holocaust. The point is not to single out the Jewish victims but to point out the dangerous character of the Nazi ideology and its consequences:any nation can become the victim of genocide.
The decision taken on the eve of the celebrations on occasion of the 70 th anniversary of the tragedy of Rostov seems strange. In August 2012, at the inauguration of the monument in the Snake Canyon several hundred people from all over the world will gather to commemorate the the victims of the holocaust and of all who died here during the Great Patriotic War.
We insist that in the near future, an inscription corresponding to the historical truth will be restored
The president of the RJC Y.I. Kanner,
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