Russian Ambassador to Israel Anatoly Viktorov and Euro-Asian Jewish Congress (EAJC) president Michael Mirilashvili laid a wreath on Sunday at the Memorial Candle Monument in Jerusalem to mark the 75th anniversary of the Allies’ victory over Nazi Germany.

Also attending were chairman of the Israeli Union of Residents of Besieged Leningrad Emilia Larina; chairman of All-Israeli Union of the Second World War Veterans Abraham Grinzaid; Ze’ev Elkin, Israel’s Minister of Jerusalem Affairs, Environment and Cultural Heritage; Euro-Asian Jewish Congress director general Chaim Ben-Yaakov; former Knesset member Leonid Litinetsky, Jerusalem Development Authority CEO Eyal Haimovsky, Jewish National Fund representatives; and other guests of honor.

“Unfortunately, not everyone in the world today fully understands the meaning of the victory in World War II,” said Elkin. “There are still countries that downplay the role of the Red Army in the victory over Nazi Germany. Israel is the only Western democracy where we don’t find such disturbing trends as the demolition of monuments [honoring Red Army soldiers].”

“In fact, we are the only Western country where new memorials are being unveiled. Victory in World War II is a central issue of our common heritage. We are fully aware that Israel would not be here today, in the first place, if not for the victory back in 1945.”

“On the day of the 75th anniversary of that great victory, we thank and honor all those that have served and fallen,” said Mirilashvili. “Victory Day is a celebration of the glory and valor of all peoples who defeated Nazism, and today, our mission is to safeguard the historical truth and perpetuate the memory of heroes. While in some countries monuments are being demolished and lessons of history forgotten, we are building new memorials with the aim of passing the memory on to future generations and ensuring that such horrors never happen again.”

Grinzaid said “this monument represents not only our sorrow for those who perished in the war, but also expresses our joy for the survivors and the city that won back its freedom in fierce battles. This memorial is a testament to the fact that our peoples stood united to defeat our common enemy and prevailed in this fight.”

The Memorial Candle Monument, which was unveiled in Jerusalem by senior Israeli and Russian officials on Jan. 23, is dedicated to the heroes of the Siege of Leningrad.

The concept of the Memorial Candle Monument originated from former Member of Knesset Leonid Litinetsky, the World War II Veterans Council and Association of (Leningrad) Blockade Survivors in Israel.

The project was funded by the EAJC, the Russian Jewish Congress, philanthropist Viktor Vekselberg, the Jewish National Fund-Keren Kayemet LeIsrael and the Israeli Keren Hayesod foundation.

© 2020 American Jewish Congress.