“Jews were killed in Auschwitz, just because they are Jews,” Russian President Vladimir Putin said Tuesday during a memorial ceremony marking the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, held at the Jewish Museum of Moscow.

The memorial event, held at the Jewish Museum of  in the  Marina Roscha neighborhood  in central Moscow, headed by the Chief Rabbi of Russia, Rabbi Berel Lazar, who began his address with the prayer, El Malei rachamim.

“First of all, we should thank God for the many miracles he did with all those who were saved from the awful Holocaust,”. Rav  Lazar Maghreb went on to tell about the miraculous escape of his parents during the war in Europe, who went on to build a Jewish home after the war and their descendants continue to proudly continue the tradition of Israel in many countries around the world.

President Putin noted in his speech, the role played by Jewish soldiers who fought in the Red Army, some of whom took part in the liberation of Auschwitz. “It’s true, they say that the Red Army liberated Auschwitz, but you must remember also, that about half a million Jews fought in the army, and about two hundred and fifty thousand people were killed. This is Jewish heroism and never forget this,” Putin said.

Putin also said that the Jews killed in the largest death factory in Auschwitz, were innocent and they were killed just because they were Jews, and the phenomenon of anti-Semitism has never stopped, even today.

Mrs. Breindl Fleishman, a survivor of Auschwitz and now a resident of Israel, took part in the ceremony. The guest came especially from Israel to attend the important memorial ceremony, and it was very symbolic and emotional to hear that she had twenty grandchildren and great-grandchildren and many serve as Chabad rabbis throughout Russia.

Six memorial candles in memory of the six million Jews, were lit by President Putin, Chief Rabbi Lazar Maghreb, Ms. Fleischman, a Russian soldier who was one of the liberators of Auschwitz, President of the  Russian Federation, and a granddaughter of Ms Fleischmann who is a representative of Chabad in Moscow.

The event was moderated by the Chairman of the Jewish Museum Rav Gorin and among the participants were dozens of ambassadors, annual participants in this event, which is held by the “Union of Jewish Communities of Russia”, and Rabbi Levi Lviov, the Russian Federation chairman, Governor R. Michael Mirelshvili and members of the community.

The Jewish community in Moscow has given much aid to Holocaust survivors, and their efforts are now highly developed and have a broad scope. Some fifteen years ago, the Chief Rabbi of Russia Rabbi Berel Lazar established the “Jewish charity center – Shaare Zedek” in Moscow, and since then it  has evolved into an extensive charity center and is currently the largest charity center in Russia, with dozens of varied assistance programs.

During the events marking the International Holocaust Remembrance Day, there was also held the ceremony launching the branch of “Voice of grace” in the charity center adjacent to the Jewish Museum, which includes a telephone switchboard which will be manned by eight volunteers, who will call at least once a week every Holocaust survivor, inquire how they are, help with kind words and respond to any request or appeal. Considerable capital was invested in this project, for the purchase of equipment and the switchboard operators were trained specifically for their duties, in order to provide the best service to the Holocaust survivors.

It should also be noted that the Jewish Center Shaare Zedek, near the Jewish Museum, has assisted about 5 thousand survivors from amongst 15 thousand needy, lonely and sick Jews from Moscow – a parallel ceremony was held with the participation of hundreds of Holocaust survivors, who came together in a special prayer for the health of the  remaining survivors and for the Jewish people.