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No future without remembrance: memorial site opens in Belarus Relations between Belarus and Germany

Federal President at the opening of memorial site in Minsk

Federal President at the opening of memorial site in Minsk, © dpa

29.06.2018 - Article

On Friday (29 June), Federal President Steinmeier opened the Blagovshtshina part of the Maly Trostenets memorial site in Belarus. The Federal Foreign Office opened the way for efforts to examine the history of the place also across borders and helped finance the construction of the memorial.

With the opening of the Blagovshtshina/Trostenets memorial, the largest extermination site in the former Soviet Union now takes its place on the map of European remembrance sites. It was only in recent years that the Federal Government was able to work with Belarus to examine the past together and thus pave the way for a culture of shared remembrance. On Friday (29 June), Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier opened the memorial site together with Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, Austrian President Alexander van der Bellen and Czech President of the Senate Milan Štěch. It is to be a place where future generations can learn and which prompts dialogue. The Federal Foreign Office will continue to closely accompany this process.

Federal President at the opening of memorial site in Minsk
Federal President at the opening of memorial site in Minsk© dpa

Keeping responsibility alive

At the opening of a memorial for tens of thousands of murdered Jews and resistance fighters in Belarus, Steinmeier warned against suppressing the memory of Nazi crimes: “Today, this responsibility means that we must keep the memory of the things that happened here alive. I can assure you that we will uphold our debt of responsibility, also defending it against those who say it will eventually be paid off”. The plans to build a memorial site first took shape in 2013 when the Belarusian Government commissioned the city of Minsk with constructing the Maly Trostenets memorial site. The Federal Foreign Office made available 500,000 euros for the project and funds were also donated by the German War Graves Commission and by other sources in Germany including six German cities from where Jews were deported to the Minsk Ghetto and then on to Maly Trostenets.

Remembering together

Parallel to the building project, a German-Belarusian commission of historians created the joint touring exhibition “Maly Trostenets extermination site - history and remembrance" which was financed by the Federal Foreign Office and has been displayed in various places in Germany from November 2016 and in Belarus from March 2017.

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