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


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

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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 at Babyn Yar.  We can never let the memories of those victims and all who were murdered in the Holocaust be dishonored, erased, or cynically misused for political purposes.  For 45 years after the end of the Second World War, the Soviet Union censored documentation of the Holocaust, including accurate research and records of the massacre of Jews at Babyn Yar.

Thus it is particularly horrifying that Vladimir Putin is trying to justify his unprovoked war against Ukraine by distorting and misappropriating Holocaust history.  Saying that today’s democratic Ukraine needs to be “denazified” is an insult to all those 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 again occur.  Our countries stand together in supporting human rights and fundamental freedoms for all by countering historical distortion and strengthening accurate Holocaust education, remembrance, and research.  Understanding the history that led to past atrocities can help us identify and, we hope, prevent such abominations in the future.

In the wake of World War II, the Fourth Geneva Convention was adopted to protect civilians during armed conflict.  The unlawful transfer or deportation of protected persons is a grave breach of the Convention and a war crime.  Today, estimates from a variety of sources indicate that Russia’s authorities and its proxies have detained, interrogated, and reportedly tortured hundreds of thousands of Ukrainian citizens.  Many of these Ukrainian citizens, including thousands of children, have been relocated or forcibly deported from their homes in areas of Ukraine temporarily controlled by Russia, often to locations deep inside Russia.  Forced deportation is one of the results of the Kremlin’s so-called “filtration” operations, designed to eradicate resistance, identify individuals Russia deems insufficiently compliant, and deny Ukraine’s statehood and distinct identity.  Russia’s authorities have denied this is happening despite substantial evidence from many sources.

We unequivocally condemn these actions and all of Russia’s 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 conducted by the International Criminal Court, the UN, the Experts 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 people of Ukraine need and deserve justice.  Our countries are committed to holding perpetrators of war crimes and other atrocities accountable for their unconscionable actions.

  • Canada: Irwin Cotler, Special Envoy on Preserving Holocaust Remembrance and Combatting Antisemitism
  • Croatia: Sara Lustig, Special Advisor to the Prime Minister for Holocaust Issues and Combating Antisemitism
  • Czech Republic: Robert Rehak, Ambassador and Special Envoy for Holocaust, Interfaith Dialogue and Freedom of Religion
  • Germany: Robert Klinke, Special Representative for Relations with Jewish Organisations, Issues Relating to Antisemitism, International Sinti and Roma Affairs, and Holocaust Remembrance
  • Greece: Dimitris Yannakakis, Ambassador, Special Envoy of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for Combating Antisemitism and Promoting Holocaust Remembrance
  • Netherlands: Ernst Steigenga, National Delegate on Holocaust remembrance, education and research at the Dutch Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport
  • Romania: Alexandru Muraru, Special Representative for Promoting the Policies of Memory, for Fighting against Antisemitism and Xenophobia
  • United Kingdom: Lord Eric Pickles, Special Envoy for Post-Holocaust Issues
  • United States: Ellen Germain, Special Envoy for Holocaust Issues

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