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Greetings on opening of historical documentary exhibition On the Eve of the Great Patriotic War. September 1, 1939 – June 22, 1941

July 7, 2021

Vladimir Putin sent greetings to the organisers and visitors of the historical documentary exhibition On the Eve of the Great Patriotic War. September 1, 1939 – June 22, 1941.

The message reads, in part:

“This year marks the 80th anniversary of the beginning of the Great Patriotic War. June 22, 1941, is one of the most tragic and sorrowful dates in the history of our country. It will remain in the memory of people forever.

It is of exceptional importance that Russian scholars and archivists continue working on a fundamental scientific and educational project dedicated to the history of World War II. The historical documentary exhibition On the Eve of the Great Patriotic War. September 1, 1939 – June 22, 1941 is opening as a follow-up to the displays Munich’38. On the Threshold of the Disaster and 1939. The Beginning of World War II. It presents for the first time unique documents covering this most complicated historical period of time, documents that the public at large has never seen.

Regrettably, there have been increasingly more frequent attempts recently to revise the lessons and results of the war, to exonerate the Nazi criminals and their accomplices, and to make the Soviet Union share equal responsibility with Germany for unleashing the world conflict. But there are facts reflected in the original documents, which are countering the attempts to distort history in order to live up to the current political situation. These facts convincingly testify that even after Germany’s attack on Poland the Western leaders were seeking in every way to persevere with their policy of pacifying the aggressor, a policy that led to sad consequences, and were engaged in the so-called Phoney War. On the contrary, the Soviet leadership’s prewar actions were based on the desire to preserve actual neutrality for as long as possible, use the time thus gained to strengthen the country’s defence capability, and form a security zone around it.

Of course, historians will yet have to analyse in a thoughtful and painstaking way the complicated tangle of events that occurred between 1939 and 1941. In this context, it is necessary to rely on sources, facts and archival materials rather than replace serious research by all sorts of politically motivated declarations.

I would like to sincerely thank the organisers of this exhibition for working so hard. I am confident that the exhibition will arouse a lot of public interest and become an important event in this country’s scientific and cultural life. It will also serve to preserve the historical truth.”

July 7, 2021