Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s welcome speech at a videoconference on the 75th anniversary of the Nuremberg Tribunal, November 20, 2020
Esteemed colleagues and friends,
We have met today to recall one of the landmark events in world history from the 20th century – the international trials of Nazi criminals. The online format allows us to embrace the largest audience possible. I would like to welcome in particular the audience of the Phoenix German television channel, citizens of Germany and other countries who are not indifferent to this subject.
The history of the Nuremberg Tribunal, one of the biggest political and legal landmarks of that period, is truly unique. Equally unique is the history of postwar Germany that managed to leave this dark past behind it and embark on the creative road of development.
The unanimity of the allies of the anti-Hitler coalition in creating the tribunal, holding the trials and assessing the results became a key factor of its success. Its decisions clearly and unambiguously pointed to those who were to blame for unleashing the bloodiest war in human history. It would be appropriate to mention in this context that many people learned about heinous Nazi crimes against entire nations and humanity only by seeing “a picture on the screen” – documented scenes from the courtroom sessions. The faces of the criminals and their confessions are shocking up to this day. The same feeling is evoked by the conscious absence of contrition in most of them – a phenomenon that was aptly described later by German-US philosopher Hannah Arendt as “the banality of evil.”
Unfortunately, we have to say that the immunity against the Nazi virus developed, in part, in Nuremberg, has become much weaker today. For instance, many European countries are openly engaged in the propaganda of Nazi ideas. Attempts are being made to equate the responsibility of the aggressors and liberators, the victims and their henchmen, and to glorify the Nazis and their accomplices as heroes. The absolutely cynical war against the monuments to the liberators is part of these attempts. All this not only insults the memory of millions of victims but also threatens the fundamental principles of human rights.
We believe full-scale recognition of the results of World War II, which are fixed in the UN Charter and other documents, are an absolute imperative for all countries. We are convinced that the consistent efforts to counter any manifestations of racism, xenophobia, aggressive nationalism and chauvinism must remain an unconditional priority for the international community. This goal is pursued by the annual Russia-initiated UN General Assembly Resolution on combating glorification of Nazism, neo-Nazism and other practices that contribute to fuelling contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance. The resolution is traditionally supported by the overwhelming majority of the world’s states.
I hope our conference will be held in a constructive spirit, will help promote international humanitarian and academic exchanges and contribute to preserving the historical truth.