“Our fathers, grandfathers and great-grandfathers fought Nazism together. Starting a war to satisfy the geopolitical ambitions of the leaders of the Russian Federation, driven by fanciful and dubious historical considerations, is nothing but betraying their memory.”
— Appeal By Russian Researchers And Scientists
A month ago, on Holocaust Remembrance Day, our colleague Catherine Guisan published on the CHGS blog a far-sighted article titled Why the Shutting Down of Russia’s Memorials Should Matter to Us. Prof. Guisan condemns the banning of two Russian NGOs in December 2021 that documented human rights abuses during the Soviet era, advocated for reparations to survivors, and defended human right victims in conflict zones, in and around modern Russia.
Today we watch in consternation the assault on the people of Ukraine and its outrageous justification by the Russian leadership (to “denazify Ukraine” and respond to “genocide” in the Donbas region). In the midst of uncertainty, we are reminded of our urgent mission to uphold truth, facts, and education. We see once and again that deliberate attempts to obliterate remembrance and convince people to disregard or misremember past violence are the prelude for further deadly violence. When lies about the past become a tool of state propaganda and a tactic of oppression, it is an unmistakable sign that that state is engulfed in violence. Czech author Milan Kundera, who witnessed the Soviet occupation of Czechoslovakia in 1968, knew well what he was referring to when he wrote his famous line, “The struggle of man against power is the struggle of memory against forgetting.”
Today, and every day, the Center stands for truth and justice, and we stand arm in arm with the Ukrainian people and their loved ones around the world.
Our friends at the Ukrainian American Community Center in Minneapolis have information about ways to help Ukrainian relief efforts.