From Stalingrad to Prague
Volgograd is the only city in Russia that in the year of the 70th anniversary of the Victory was given an opportunity to present itself and its military feats in the very hearts of Europe – the city of Strasbourg. On April 28, 2015, the Strasbourg premises of the European Parliament hosted an international exhibition “The Way to the Joint Victory over Nazism: from Stalingrad to Prague”. The exhibition is based on unique documents and photos telling about the Battle of Stalingrad and the liberation of European cities from Nazism in 1944-1945.
Among the participants of the exhibition’s opening ceremony, there were Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation to the European Union Ambassador Vladimir Chizhov, Volgograd Mayor Andrey Kosolapov, MEPs, members of the diplomatic corps, politicians and public figures.
“The very holding of the exhibition in the European Parliament is a proof that not all European people have forgotten everything,” emphasized Vladimir Chizhov, “There are so many people gathered at the opening ceremony today. This, too, is a proof that Europe has got people who remember history and judge it correctly. Unfortunately, the number of people wishing to rewrite the chronicles of World War 2, claiming that the black is white and the white is black, has been increasing lately. Therefore, the duty of our generation is to convey the truth to those who will come after us,” said the Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation to the European Union.
“It is especially meaningful that this exposition is opening on the eve of the 70th anniversary of the Victory of the Soviet people in the Great Patriotic War and of the ultimate defeat of Nazism in Europe by the countries of the Anti-Hitler coalition.
“It is in Stalingrad – which became a symbol of stamina and valiance of both the Red Army soldiers and common citizens who protected their homes and families – that the backbone of the Nazi beast was broken!” noted Andrey Kosolapov.
The exhibition opened at the premises of the European Parliament is unique without exaggeration. Among those who searched and collected the documents for the exhibition, those who helped to shape its form, there were civil servants from Volgograd and its European twin-cities, members of civil society, scholars and experts. While working in historic archives, they have found and systemized numerous materials reflecting the events of World War 2 and the Allies’ march towards the victory over Nazism in Europe, which came to an end in Prague on May 9, 1945.
“These documents and photographs are telling the truth about the events that determined the fate of the humankind 70 years ago. In this regards, Volgograd, as one of the founders of the international twinning movement and the first city in Russia to open a People’s Diplomacy Center, is carrying out a very important international mission today”, pointed out the Mayor of Volgograd.
Andrey Kosolapov also added that despite the project’s large scale, only private investments were used for its implementation – not a ruble was spent from the city budget.
“We have covered a tremendous amount of work: collecting data and systemizing them, providing the technical aspects of the exposition. All of this was not very easy, given the current international circumstances. Still, though, in the end we have here a result which, I am sure, many people will find interesting,” remarked MEP Jiri Mastalka.
Organized following the joint initiative of Volgograd municipality and a Czech Republic MEP Jiri Mastalka, the exhibition is dedicated to the anniversary of the victory of the Allies from the Anti-Hitler coalition over Nazism in World War II. The project is composed out of 29 stands featuring documents and photos collected in the archives of the leading Russian and European museums.
Throughout the period of the exhibition’s demonstration in the European Parliament, the flags of Russia and Volgograd will be standing next to the posters.
Address by Volgograd Mayor Andrey Kosolapov at the inauguration of the exhibition “The Way to the Joint Victory over Nazism: from Stalingrad to Prague”:
Dear ladies and gentlemen!
I am proud to greet you on behalf of all people from the hero-city of Stalingrad – currently known as Volgograd!
Let me thank all of those who found an opportunity to personally attend the opening ceremony of the exposition “The way to the joint victory over Nazism: from Stalingrad to Prague”.
It is especially meaningful that this exposition is opening on the eve of the 70th anniversary of the Victory of the Soviet people in the Great Patriotic War and of the ultimate defeat of Nazism in Europe by the countries of the Anti-Hitler coalition. It is in Stalingrad - which became a symbol of stamina and valiance of both the Red Army soldiers and common citizens who protected their homes and families - that the backbone of the Nazi beast was broken! The great battle which took place on Stalingrad land would become the turning point of the Second World War and lead to the liberation of European cities from Nazism and fascism.
By going all the way from Stalingrad to Berlin and Prague 70 years ago, our fathers and grandfathers – citizens of the Soviet Union and European countries – brought Europe freedom and peace. As children and grandchildren of that era, we will never forget their heroic deed. The exposition we are presenting to you today is unique without exaggeration. Among those who collected documentary materials and elaborated the exposition’s design were municipality officers from Volgograd and our twin-cities from European countries, NGOs, scholars and experts. While working in the historical archives, we managed to discover and systemize numerous documents and photos reflecting those events of the beginning and continuation of the Second World War that determined the fate of the humankind 70 years ago.
Today, in Europe – our common home, we again see radical nationalistic movements gaining power, hear appeals for the reevaluation of the outcome of the Second World War, and struggle with the escalating international tension. Under these circumstances, we think it important to remind about the price that the people of our continent had to pay for peace and freedom 70 years ago. It is essential to preserve the memory of the Great Victory over Nazism and of the war’s victims! The project’s organizers managed to display graphically the history of the most terrible war of the 20th century. The peace obtained 70 years ago must remain the basic value of today’s society. What our exposition is calling for is its preservation and cementing.
I would like to especially thank Mr. Jiri Mastalka, member of the European Parliament, as this event would have hardly come to life without his enthusiasm, persistence and support. I am sure that our joint project will contribute to the enlargement of humanitarian relations among the citizens of our countries and become an additional stimulus for the development of an intercultural dialogue on the united European space!
Thank you for your attention!
Address by MEP Jiri Mastalka at the inauguration of the exhibition “The Way to the Joint Victory over Nazism: from Stalingrad to Prague”:
Ladies and gentlemen, distinguished guests!
Welcome to the opening ceremony of our exhibition. First of all, I would like to greet:
- Mayor of Volgograd Mr. Andrey Kosolapov,
- Chair of the Confederal Group of the European United Left/Nordic Green Left in the European Parliament Ms. Gabi Zimmer,
- and Russia’s Representative to the European Union Mr. Vladimir Chizhov.
Among the guests I would also like to greet the Ambassadors and representatives of the other countries to the European Union – Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Cyprus, Permanent Representative of Slovakia to the Council of Europe, MEPs, their assistants and members of foreign delegations in Parliamentary factions. Thank you all for coming here.
Ladies and gentlemen, dear guests, let me begin with a short comment. The exhibition opened today is dedicated to the events of incredible importance; the events that have had a meaningful influence on the fates of the world and always evoked strong emotional response. I have to admit that I do not dare to speak about these events in any other language apart from my own and will have to use the help of an interpreter. I hope for your understanding.
(The rest of the address is spoken in Czech)
Ladies and gentlemen, distinguished guests.
To open an exhibition in general is not an easy task, but to open an exhibition like the one surrounding us now is even more difficult. It is often said that sometimes words are almost useless, and one can feel it most clearly during the memorable dates dedicated to the most tragic moments in the history of the humankind, which undoubtedly include World War 2. It is hard to add anything to the lists of hundreds, thousands and dozens of thousands of the killed. What words do we need while standing amidst the memory of the events the number of victims of which is now difficult to even imagine – hundreds of thousands, even millions…
Here, amidst the photographs and statistics telling us about the way from Stalingrad to Prague – from the turning point in the war against the Nazi Germany and until the total victory over Hitler’s fascism – a simple minute of silence would probably be more plausible, but still, there are a few words I’d like to say. Some words, with time, become symbols and universally recognized synonyms themselves. Just like the name “Einstein” is a synonym for “genius scientist”, the words “sputnik” and “Gagarin” are the symbols of the open space, “Beatles” – a symbol of the whole music era, and “Waterloo” – of a crushing defeat, toast we are surrounded by the symbols even more powerful. It will suffice to simply list these words – Stalingrad, Normandy, Auschwitz, Coventry, Oradour-sur-Glane, Terezín, Lidice…
Today these events sound like a story of the days long-gone. The festivities dedicated to the joint victory of the Anti-Hitler coalition over the Nazi Germany bring us 70 years back in time. In consideration of the current tendencies for the revival of fascist ideology and the never stopping attempts to rewrite history, such festivities are still very important, because they remind us: it was our joint victory. After the war, politics separated the heroes who had bravely fought the Nazi Germany and Japanese militarism. Until today, some leaders of the victorious countries are viewing each other with scorn and distrust. However, this must not diminish or cast any shadow upon the heroism of Russians, Ukrainians, Byelorussians, and people of the other former Soviet Republics, as well as the heroism of American, British, French and many others peoples who showed such valor in the most terrible war in history.
Sometimes it looks like there are fewer stories left than there are those willing to interpret them in their own way. However, there is only one history of the world, and it is in our interests not to forget it. We must be thankful to those who have contributed to its writing and to those who have given up their lives for it. We must never forget what fascism, Nazism, racism and militarism is and what danger they pose for the humankind. Because, according to the wise words of Cicero, “The life of the dead is placed in the memory of the living.”
In conclusion, I would like to thank all those who have taken part in the production and opening of this unique exhibition.
Address by the President of the Confederal Group of the European United Left/Nordic Green Left in the European Parliament Ms. Gabi Zimmer at the inauguration of the exhibition “The Way to the Joint Victory over Nazism: from Stalingrad to Prague”:
Welcome dear guests.
Добро пожаловать, дорогие друзья, дорогие гости.
It’s a great honor for me to welcome you on the opening ceremony of this exhibition and I thank very much our colleagues and member of our group of Jiri Mastalka for organizing initiating this good event. 2015, is the year of remarkable anniversary. 70 years of liberation of fascism, liberation of Auschwitz, Terezin, Lidice, Dachau, Buchenwald or Rawenzbruck or others. Two weeks ago I participated in the commemoration event of self-liberation and liberation of Buchenwald. In this concentration camp Nazis murdered more than 56 000 people. Amongst them more than 8500 Soviet prisoners of war were shot. I remember this event because along these days only few numbers of survivors now is able to tell us about their life, about the crimes of fascism and resistance against fascism. And it seems in the near future that there will be no more living witnesses.
Here I would also like to add that this is the reason why we, left group in the European Parliament, are so proud of our group member, the oldest member of the European Parliament, our friend and comrade, EMMANOUL GLEZOS, who as a young man took away the German flag from the seat in Acropolis. Of this we are proud.
It seems that soon there will be no more living witnesses and it brings to us obligations and faces a challenge, a new challenge. Especially to us, as politicians, as members of the European Parliament to inform, to speak with the generations about the lessons of history and not to accept such crimes as fascism are marginalized and the victims are derided. In our countries, member states of the European Union our forces on the way to glorify Nazism and neo-Nazism and also to deny victims of the fascism and also deny the holocaust. In my mind, you have to stand on the singularity and uniqueness of these crimes against humanity.
That’s why I’m begging to visit this exhibition and to learn also from all the parts of this exhibition about the fight in Stalingrad, today - Volgograd, to remind that battle of Stalingrad makes a turning point, it was the start for defeat of the Wehrmacht, of Nazism. It was a long way to liberate also people and territories in the former Soviet Union and later in East and Middle Europe. Hundreds thousands of members of the Red Army lost their lives in Stalingrad and on the way to liberate parts of Europe. Among them are Russians, Ukrainians, Byelorussians, Czechs, Polish people and others. In the end of the war when the allied armies were on the up front, people in different regions and also in Prague were encouraged to stand up against the fascist occupation. The heroic uprising of people in Prague is the symbol and shouldn´t be forgotten. What is the lesson for us?
Seventy years after the victory over fascism in the World War 2 we have to realize that we need to live and respect with all the countries. Are we doing enough to exclude the possibility of another world wide war? Do we see the danger, how close we are on the edge? We should not divide the world in black and white, to divide the world in good or bad. We should only work - and this is our only mission here in European Parliament. For peaceful world, for world without any military confrontation.
That is why my friend, Jiri Mastalka and me, we will start today also with an appeal to all the members of European Parliament, to support the UN declaration for December last year. that we would like to do all not to glorify Nazism and neo-Nazism, to work together for a world of cooperation, of respect , and that is why we are asking also the EP to do more, to realize this declaration of United Nations.
I think this will be a right symbol in these days to look for a common peaceful world and cooperation.
Thank you very much, thank you, Jiri, and also thank you a lot to you and to the Ambassador of Russia to the European Union.
Address by Ambassador Vladimir Chizhov at the inauguration of the exhibition “The Way to the Joint Victory over Nazism: From Stalingrad to Prague”:
Dear Vice-President of the European Parliament, dear Mayor Kosolapov, Excellencies, distinguished guests,
First of all I would like to thank Mr. Jiri Maštalka and the City of Volgograd for their initiative to organise the exhibition “The Way to the Joint Victory over Nazism: From Stalingrad to Prague” on the premises of the European Parliament. This year is of special significance as it marks the 70th anniversary of the Great Victory over Nazism - the most terrible evil in the whole history of mankind.
World War II is a great lesson of the 20th century. The consequences of this tremendous historical drama had most direct influence on the course of world history, including the creation of the United Nations as a cornerstone of the system of international relations. But the victory over Nazism also remains a lesson that is relevant today, when there are still those who are trying once again to revive this abhorring ideology and rewrite history in order to achieve their own political goals.
I am convinced that new generations of Europeans must know how much blood and tears were shed during the war and that May 1945 brought not only the great joy of victory, but also heavy responsibility for the future fate of mankind. The peoples of the world, and above all the peoples of the Soviet Union, paid a very high price for the Victory. That is why we so dearly want a peaceful future for our planet, why we value human life and important principles of international security.
It would only be fair to emphasise the decisive contribution of the Soviet people to the victory over Nazism. It was the Soviet Union – with its expanses, towns and villages – that absorbed the brunt of the Nazi invasion. Three fourths of the German armed forces were defeated on the Eastern Front, including the most combat-capable, battle-hardened units. It was all peoples of the USSR who at the cost of 27 million lives, enormous sacrifices and the destruction of over 3 thousand cities and towns preserved the greater part of material heritage of European civilization.
This victory could only be achieved by joint efforts of all who took part in the struggle against Nazism. Last June saw celebrations of the Anniversary of D-Day, the Allied Landing in Normandy, many events commemorating the heroes of World War II are held in different countries of the world. The very creation of the anti-Hitlerite coalition is rightfully considered to have been a major diplomatic breakthrough of its time. Its participants were able to rise above their political and ideological differences for the sake of an overarching aim – to crush the common enemy and achieve Victory, one for all.
In commemorating Victory Day we pay tribute to the great sacrifices of our ancestors, to the spiritual force with which nations of the world defended their right to freedom, to independence, to live and raise children and grandchildren, and to pass on to them the spiritual values and traditions over centuries accumulated by our nations. We must never forget this and do our utmost to preserve this heritage.
The exhibition was later displayed in the other cities:
-- in June 2015 - in Ostrava (Czech Republic), Volgograd's twin-city
-- in September 2015 - in Brno (Czech Republic)
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