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Address to people of Austria on 75th anniversary of Europe’s liberation from Nazism

May 8, 2020

Vladimir Putin supported the initiative advanced by Federal Chancellor of the Republic of Austria Sebastian Kurtz and addressed the Austrian people on the occasion of the 75th anniversary of Europe’s liberation from Nazism as part of a special commemorative event organised and coordinated by the Chancellor’s Office. Video addresses by the leaders of Russia, the United States, Great Britain and France were broadcast on ORF, Austria’s central television channel.

President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Dear friends,

Liebe Freunde,

Good afternoon. Grüß Gott.

I would like to thank the Federal Chancellor of Austria, Sebastian Kurtz, for his proposal to address the Austrian people on the occasion of the 75th anniversary of Victory over Nazism.

In the spring of 1945, Soviet troops took Berlin by storm. It took them almost four years to get there through the inferno of the bloodiest war in human history.

They did not need this war, they did not want it. It was imposed on the Soviet Union. The Nazis attacked treacherously and stealthily, thus putting an abrupt end to the peaceful and quiet life of our country and its multi-ethnic people.

The Soviet people’s path to Victory was heroic and sacrificial. We bow low to their courage, determination and fortitude. They were able to overcome inhuman trials and defend their homeland. They determined the outcome of World War II, liberated Europe, and won the Victory that the entire world was waiting for.

Of course, we will remember the contribution made to defeating Nazism by our allies in the anti-Hitler coalition and all those who fought in the anti-Nazi underground resistance, remember the millions of people, the elderly, women and children who were murdered by the Nazis, and we will remember the tragedy of the Holocaust.

The Great Victory saved humanity. It paved the way to the revival of an independent and dynamically developing democratic Austria. Over 26,000 Soviet soldiers gave their lives for its liberation.

The Austrian soil is home to more than 200 military burial sites. We are grateful to the Austrian government and people for their caring and respectful attitude to these memorials that are dear to us.

The memory of the fallen, the events of the war, the defence of the truth about it and the honour of genuine heroes is not just our common duty. It is a matter of our conscience with regard to the entire generation of victors. They spared nothing so that we, their descendants, never know the tragedy of war. Today, we, too, must do our best to make sure that no one ever dares to unleash it again. This is our common responsibility to the future generations.

In closing, I would like to wish the friendly nation of Austria prosperity, peace and well-being. And, of course, I wish you success in combatting our common new threat, the coronavirus. We are together in fighting this pandemic. It is vitally important that we support each other in these difficult times.

Thank you for your attention. Vielen Dank für Ihre Aufmerksamkeit.

May 8, 2020