A year ago, Ukraine became the target of Russia’s unprovoked and unjustified war of aggression. In light of this anniversary, the IHRA remembers the innocent lives that have been lost, as well as those who have been displaced and continue to live in fear.
Over the past year the IHRA has focused its efforts on finding practical ways to help those in the field within its mandate. One of the IHRA’s top priorities throughout this critical time is to combat distortion, which has been rampant in rhetoric surrounding the conflict.
The immense loss of life, violence and destruction since the conflict began is shocking and draws on a distorted view of history, including Holocaust distortion.
The justification behind these illegal military actions is the false narrative of “denazification.” As IHRA Chair, Ambassador Ann Bernes said in her powerful statement one year ago, “by equating Ukraine’s democratically elected government with the murderous policy of Nazi Germany, the history of the Holocaust is being grossly distorted and misused.”
This distortion erodes our understanding of the Holocaust, disrespects the victims, hurts the survivors and undermines democratic values. The international community needs to be able to identify this misuse of history and be empowered to stand against it. Only if we understand our past, can we deal with the present.
At the IHRA Plenary in Stockholm, it was decided that three IHRA working definitions should be translated into Russian and Ukrainian. These translations will equip civil society and organizations in the field to challenge distortion of the Holocaust, antisemitism, and antigypsyism/anti-Roma racism. They will also support Member Countries in their commitment to address the situation and assist Ukraine within the areas of IHRA expertise.
People belonging to marginalized groups become even more vulnerable in times of war and crisis. The Russian and Ukrainian translations of the working definitions of antisemitism and antigypsyism/anti-Roma racism seek to help civil society, institutions, and ministries ensure that those fleeing the violence are granted equal access to safety and protection.
Media, social media, and civil society partners are essential to countering the Holocaust distortion being used to justify Russian aggression. Our working definition of Holocaust denial and distortion can help increase awareness and strengthen the response to this dangerous pattern.