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The President of the Republic spoke at the opening ceremony of the Holocaust victims' memorial

The President of the Republic spoke at the opening ceremony of the Holocaust victims' memorialPresident Arnold Rüütel today at Klooga opened a memorial dedicated to the victims of the Holocaust of European Jews that had taken place on the territory of Estonia during World War II.

The Head of State stressed in his opening speech that we could not and we must not forget the crimes committed against people in history. "The Holocaust was a horrific crime arising from misanthropic Nazi ideology. No other nation was subjected to such total and savage annihilation than the Jewish people were. Standing now at this place where so many innocent people had to meet humiliation, pain and death, it is difficult to find words," President Rüütel said.

The President of the Republic recalled that the Nazis had executed the Jews who had stayed in Estonia; those victims had been people who were residents and citizens of independent Estonian Republic where the rights of ethnic minorities were respected. Also thousands of Jewish people deported to Estonia from Czechoslovakia, Germany, France, Lithuania, and from elsewhere were murdered here.

"To our nation caught up in the war, the occupation caused not only loss of freedom, but also the most barbarous massacre. Wars had ravaged Estonia also before, but during World War II we had to suffer from devastation caused by anti-human regimes. Those crimes do not expire with time nor have any justification," President Rüütel said.

"Being the President of the Republic of Estonia I feel hurt that among the citizens of our state there were those who participated in Nazi crimes. It does not matter whatever motives they had for such behaviour. We condemn the deeds of those people and we apologise for them," the Head of State said.

The President of the Republic noted that today we are fortunate to live in free, open and democratic Estonia and to belong among the nations who treasure such values. "Therefore we have to take care that the historical truth would be cleared up and that it would reach everyone. But as long as there are those who wish to justify or even praise the crimes committed during both German as well as Soviet occupation, there is a danger that such deeds could be repeated. That is why also future generations have to be aware of everything that has happened," President Rüütel stressed.

Public Relations Unit of the Office of the President
Kadriorg, July 24, 2005

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