During a working visit to the United States, President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy and First Lady Olena Zelenska visited the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington.
The presidential couple lit candles near the Babyn Yar memorial in the Hall of Remembrance.
Director of the museum Sara Bloomfield showed the exposition to the Head of State and the First Lady. They left a note in the Book of Honorary Guests.
The President of Ukraine also spoke with the leaders of Jewish organizations in the United States.
He noted that he appreciates the cooperation with the US Holocaust Memorial Museum, so he brought digitized copies of 43 Yiddish letters from the Unread Letters 1941 collection from Ukraine.
"Most of the authors of the letters, including children, died in August 1941, during the first massive executions of the Jewish population in Ukraine. Today, we are providing copies of these valuable documents, which preserve human pain and hope, to the US Holocaust Museum. "Today we are doing everything to make 'Never Again' really mean - never again," the President said.
Volodymyr Zelenskyy noted that today is a special day, because on September 1, 82 years ago, the Second World War began, which had terrible consequences caused by extraordinary human cruelty, hatred and heartlessness.
"Nazism. 82 years ago it tried to enslave humanity and take over the world. It has many synonyms. Death. Famine. Captivity. Burned cities. Burned villages. Burned people. Ostarbeiters. Concentration camps. And one of the scariest synonyms is the Holocaust. Its victims in Europe were at least six million Jews. Among them - one and a half million, i.e. every fourth - is from Ukraine," the President noted.
He told the story of one family - four brothers, three of whom, together with their families, were shot by the German invaders in Ukraine. And the fourth brother was on the frontline and went through the entire World War II, contributing to the victory over Nazism.
"He had a son. 31 years later he had a grandson. 40 years later, his grandson became President of Ukraine. And now he is standing in front of you," Volodymyr Zelenskyy said.
The Head of State stressed that Nazism lost forever, but crippled many destinies and affected almost every family. Therefore, future generations must remember the crimes of Nazism in order to never allow it to happen again in the history of mankind.
He also noted that in modern Ukraine, the ideology of racism and intolerance has no chance, and the best proof of this is that Ukrainians elected him their President.
"Although before that there were many answers to this question. At least - 2659. That's the number of Ukrainians who officially bear the honorary title of Righteous Among the Nations. In terms of the number of those who saved Jews at the cost of their own lives, Ukraine is the fourth country on the planet Earth," Volodymyr Zelenskyy said.
The President reminded that by his decree he established lifelong state scholarships for Ukrainian citizens who rescued Jews on the territory of Ukraine during the Holocaust in times of the Second World War.
"The people of Ukraine cannot have the germs of anti-Semitism and Nazism at the genetic level. It cannot be in the heart or in the soul of the Ukrainian people who survived Babyn Yar on their land," the President said, adding that the Nazis killed, according to various estimates, up to 200,000 people in Babyn Yar in two years.
According to him, in order to honor the memory of these people at the end of 2020, a Presidential Decree "On measures for the further development of the Babyn Yar National Historical and Memorial Reserve" was signed. And today there are conceptually new objects that tell the story of the tragedy in the language of modern technology for modern generations.
"In less than a month, on September 29 this year, the 80th anniversary of the beginning of the mass shootings in Babyn Yar will take place. We will honor the memory of the victims for a week, until October 6. I sincerely want to invite you and your children and grandchildren to Ukraine, to Kyiv. So that all of us together can pray for the souls of all those killed in Babyn Yar and during the Holocaust in general. With deep respect to the memory of past generations. With unwavering faith in peace for future generations," the President said.
Volodymyr Zelenskyy stressed that Ukrainians will always honor the memory of the victims of the Shoah.
"Our hearts can fully realize this tragedy, because we ourselves have experienced more than one tragedy - the tragedy of the Holodomor-genocide. You can't turn away from that. We cannot turn away from the tragedy we are experiencing today. This is the war in Donbas. Ukrainian citizens of different religions are dying in it - Orthodox, Jews, Catholics, Muslims and many others," he said, adding that "this cannot be forgotten, this cannot be ignored."
"One cannot think that it concerns only Ukraine, that it concerns the relations between Ukraine and Russia, that Donbas and Crimea are someone else's problem. Genocide begins with the violation of international law, with the violation of human rights, with isolation, with murder and imprisonment," the President said.
So he urged not to be indifferent to the war in Donbas, to the occupation of Crimea and to Ukraine, because, as the Nobel laureate, prisoner of Auschwitz and Buchenwald Elie Wiesel said, “the opposite of love is not hatred. This is indifference."