On the Anniversary of the Babyn Yar Massacre: Joint Statement by Special Envoys for Holocaust Issues Condemning Russian Actions in Ukraine

The text of the following statement was announced by envoys for Holocaust issues or their equivalent from Canada, Croatia, Czech Republic, Germany, Greece, Netherlands, Romania, the United Kingdom and the United States of America on behalf of their governments.

Beginning text:

We must never forget the heinous crime against humanity that occurred 81 years ago when nearly 34,000 Jews were murdered by the Nazis and their accomplices in Babyn Yar. We can never allow the memories of these victims and all those who were murdered in the Holocaust to be dishonored, erased, or cynically misused for political gain. For 45 years after the end of World War II, the Soviet Union censored Holocaust documentation, including accurate research and records of the massacre of Jews at Babyn Yar.

It is therefore particularly horrifying that Vladimir Putin tries to justify his unprovoked war against Ukraine by twisting and misrepresenting the history of the Holocaust. To say that the democratic Ukraine of today must be “denazified” is an insult to all who suffered under the Nazi regime in Ukraine and elsewhere. Such distortion erodes understanding of the Holocaust, disrespects its legacy, and undermines contemporary global efforts to prevent mass atrocities so that another Holocaust can never happen again. Our countries unite to support human rights and fundamental freedoms for all by opposing historical distortion and strengthening accurate Holocaust education, remembrance and research. Understanding the history that led to past atrocities can help us identify and hopefully prevent such abominations in the future.

In the aftermath of World War II, the Fourth Geneva Convention was adopted to protect civilians during armed conflict. The illegal transfer or deportation of protected persons is a serious violation of the Convention and a war crime. Today, estimates from various sources indicate that Russian authorities and their proxies have detained, interrogated and allegedly tortured hundreds of thousands of Ukrainian citizens. Many of these Ukrainian citizens, including thousands of children, have been forcibly displaced or expelled from their homes in areas of Ukraine temporarily controlled by Russia, often to places deep within Russia. The forced expulsion is one of the results of the Kremlin’s so-called “filtration” operations, designed to eradicate resistance, identify individuals whom Russia deems insufficiently docile and deny the statehood and separate identity of Ukraine. Russian authorities have denied this is happening despite substantial evidence from numerous sources.

We unequivocally condemn these actions and all Russian crimes and atrocities in Ukraine. We call on Russia to immediately end its war of aggression against Ukraine.

We support all efforts to preserve evidence of atrocities, including those carried out by the International Criminal Court, the United Nations, expert missions under the Moscow Mechanism of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) and others.

History shows that accountability is imperative. The Ukrainian people need justice and merit. Our countries are determined to hold perpetrators of war crimes and other atrocities accountable for their unconscionable acts.

End text.