Photo Credit: Bmalina via Wikimedia
Sobibor extermination camp memorial wall

Israeli Ambassador to Moscow Gary Koren was summoned to the Russian Foreign Ministry last week to clarify the Jewish State’s position on Russia’s participation in a project to build a museum on the grounds of the Sobibor Nazi death camp in eastern Poland, an embassy spokesman told TASS on Thursday.

The Museum of the Former Sobibor Nazi Death Camp is a Polish state-owned museum devoted to remembering the atrocities committed at the former Sobibor extermination camp located on the outskirts of Sobibor near Lublin. The death camp was set up in occupied Poland during World War II, and was run by SS Sonderkommando Franz Stangl. It is estimated that a quarter of a million Jews were murdered there.


According to TASS, Russia was invited to take part in the project to renovate the Sobibor museum and memorial in 2013. The project had been initiated by Poland, Israel, Holland and Slovakia, whose representatives comprise the organizing committee. Russia accepted the invitation and expressed readiness to make a significant financial contribution, but the further consultations with Poland concerning Russia’s participation produced no results. In July, news came that a decision had been made to carry on with the project without Russia involved.

The Russians believe the decision not to include them in the project is “an outrageous fact of historical amnesia,” as a Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman put it at a Thursday briefing, complaining that the Polish government is not allowing Russia to join the museum project, “though we many times confirmed our willingness to make a contribution, including a financial one, to the memorial construction to eternalize the memory of the prisoners of that Hitlerite death factory that ceased to exists due to the heroic deed of a Red Army soldier.”

Perhaps it’s that note regarding the liberating Red Army that stirred the Poles’ objections, seeing as the same Red Army proceeded to keep its jackboots on the necks of the Polish state for close to 50 years.

“It is obvious that participation in memorable ceremonies cannot replace full participation in the committee and its work that is authorized to develop the conception for the future memorial, organize work on the site and control the financing.”

The Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman said on Thursday that the ambassadors of Israel and a number of European countries had been summoned to the ministry “for a serious conversation” in light of the international committee’s decision not to include Russia in the Sobibor museum project. This summoning, according to the ministry, resulted in the Israeli Ambassador confirming that “the Israeli Foreign Ministry supports Russia’s participation in the international management committee for the reconstruction of the Sobibor death camp museum.”

What was he going to say when the Russians summoned him? Don’t let them participate?