Commemorative rally held at Holocaust memorial in Minsk on 65th anniversary of Khatyn massacre

A commemorative rally was held at the Yama Holocaust memorial in Minsk on Saturday on the occasion of the 65th anniversary of the Khatyn massacre, BelaPAN reports.

Attending the rally were city government officials, members of veterans’ organizations and the Belarusian National Youth Union, and representatives of Minsk organizations and enterprises.

Mikhail Tsitsyankow, deputy chairman of the Minsk City Executive Committee, said in his opening address that the Khatyn tragedy makes itself felt especially strongly at the Yama memorial, where he said 5,000 people, including children and women, were slaughtered by the Nazis on March 2, 1942 only for being Jews.

Mikhail Zhukowski, deputy chairman of the Belarusian Association of Veterans, pointed out that there could be no explanation for the attempts by the United States and West European countries to “ostracize, isolate and damage Belarus and impose economic sanctions against the country,” which he said suffered huge human losses during World War II and voluntarily withdrew nuclear weapons from its territory.

Sima Marholina, a former prisoner of the Uzda and Minsk ghettos, noted that it was the first time that the Khatyn massacre anniversary was being marked by a ceremony at the Yama memorial. “This humane international event is a guarantee that genocide will never occur again in Belarus,” he said.

Participants at the rally laid flowers at the memorial and observed a minute of silence in remembrance of the Nazi victims.

All residents of Khatyn, a village some 50 kilometers north of Minsk – 149 people, including 75 children – were burnt alive in a wooden barn by the Nazis’ collaborators, on March 22, 1943.

In the Soviet era, Khatyn became a symbol of mass killings of civilians by the Nazis. A memorial was built there in the late 1960.

As many as 185 other Belarusian villages are believed to have shared the fate of Khatyn during World War II. Belarus lost a quarter of its population in the war.