Any person, Russian or non-national, will be able to access the archive, including through a website resource, and the ultimate goal is to debunk any disinformation about the most devastating conflict in human history, President Vladimir Putin pledged, during a meeting with veterans of the Great Patriotic War, held in St. Petersburg on Saturday.
The creation of the center would leave no chance to those willing to distort the truth about the war for their own political needs, he argued.
The center is expected to incorporate the biggest and most extensive collection of documents, as well as photos and video footage dating back to the World War II era. The president first floated this idea during his annual state-of-the-nation address earlier this week, arguing that Russia should combat “brazen lies and attempts to distort history.”
In St. Petersburg, Putin also said that Moscow should follow the example of Tel Aviv, which virtually allows no one on Earth to forget about the true horrors of the Holocaust.
“Among the Holocaust victims, a large number were Soviet Jews,” he said, adding that “we should also not forget about the sacrifices of other Soviet peoples, the Russian people” who defended “their homeland and the whole world from the brown plague [of Nazism].”
Putin’s words come amid a row between Moscow and Warsaw over the events that led to the Second World War. Poland has been revising that devastating conflict’s history for quite some time, seeking to shun any responsibility relating to events during that period, while presenting itself as a victim of both Nazi and Soviet aggression and occupation.
Warsaw has been removing monuments to Soviet soldiers who died while liberating the city from Nazi Germany occupation, and also initiated an EU Parliament resolution in September, which claims that the 1939 non-aggression pact between Moscow and Berlin had “paved the way for the outbreak of the Second World War.”
This last move did not sit well with Moscow, which labeled it a falsification of history. Putin himself eventually joined the heated debate between the two nations, when he called Jozef Lipski, the Polish ambassador to Berlin from 1934 to 1939, “a bastard and an anti-Semitic pig.”
The Russian president referred to the fact that the envoy had promised Adolf Hitler that Poles would “erect for him a beautiful monument in Warsaw” if he expelled all European Jews to Africa. Warsaw took offense to Putin’s remarks, though no one disputed Lipski’s words, which have long been known to the public.
The dispute soon attracted international attention, as the ambassadors of the US –and Germany, of all countries– sided with Poland on the matter and argued that “Hitler and Stalin colluded to start WWII.”
Poland’s revisionist policies are not limited to arguing with Russia, though. Warsaw is also seeking up to a “trillion” in reparations from Germany over Nazi crimes committed on its territory, while refusing to admit any responsibility over its own role in crimes committed against Polish Jews during the Nazi occupation – a stance that has led Warsaw to a simmering row with Israel.
When I was a boy I was told that anybody could become President. I'm beginning to believe it.