Last week, The Together Plan team in Minsk invited 30 survivors of the Minsk Ghetto, Righteous among Nations, and representatives of the Minsk Jewish Communities, to an event commemorating Belarus’s liberation from Nazi occupation by the Red Army.
Especially for the event two musicians were invited, who sang, played the piano and saxophone. Lots of warm words, laughter, music and dancing took place. Director Artur Livshyts, Development Coordinator Arina Pikhtova and Denis Levin, a volunteer, welcomed the guests with symbolic gifts. All those who were present were deeply moved and speeches were given telling stories of gratitude. Some of the survivors sang songs in Yiddish, the language of their childhood. After the ceremony, the guests were invited to a dinner.
The atmosphere at the event was very warm, and everybody was happy to be there – even telling us that it added a few years to their lives!
The event was held as part of commemorations for Defender of the Fatherland Day, a national holiday held in Belarus and some other former Soviet Republics on 23rd February. First held in 1919, when it was known as “Red Army Day”, it was established to commemorate the Red Army’s first major drafts in Moscow and Petrograd (now St Petersburg) whose first anniversary had been five days previously. It survives as one of many vestiges of Belarus’s Soviet past, where it commemorates the past and present military of Belarus, with a particular focus on the role its predecessor (i.e. the Red Army) played in securing an Allied victory in the Second World War.
By Arina Pikhtova, Development Coordinator (Minsk)