Russia demands German recognition of Leningrad siege as genocide

Russia is demanding that Germany recognise the Siege of Leningrad during World War II not only as a war crime but also as a genocide.

The Russian Foreign Ministry has sent a diplomatic note to this effect to the German Foreign Office, reported the state news agency TASS in Moscow.

The note criticised Germany for its alleged “contradictory handling’’ of the past.

German crimes from the colonial era are recognised as genocide, but the Nazi crimes against the peoples of the Soviet Union during World War II are not, as stated in the note.

“The Russian side insists on official recognition of such atrocities of the Third Reich as genocide,’’ it said.

During the close to 900-day siege of the northern Russian city of Leningrad, now St. Petersburg, by the Wehrmacht and its allies in 1941–1944, around 1.1 million people lost their lives.

Countless civilians starved or froze to death.

“The Siege of Leningrad was a terrible war crime that the German Wehrmacht inflicted on Leningrad and its population,’’ according to the German Foreign Office.

It stated that the German government has emphasised this on several occasions and maintains this legal opinion.

This January, on the 80th anniversary of the end of the siege, the German embassy in Moscow commemorated the victims with several events.

Ambassador Alexander Graf Lambsdorff met with survivors.

Russian diplomacy is increasingly putting pressure on Germany.

Legally, the accusation of genocide goes further than that of war crimes.

The United Nations Genocide Convention of 1948 stipulates that competent courts must issue convictions for genocide.

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For cases prior to 1948, it is a question of coming to terms with them through politics, society, and historiography.

In the note, the Russian Foreign Ministry once again criticised the fact that Germany only paid individual compensation to Jewish victims of the blockade.

Germany justifies the different treatment with the fact that Soviet Jews were subjected to particular persecution due to Nazi racial policy.

Compensation for other victims was covered by the war reparations paid by Germany after 1945.

As a humanitarian gesture, however, the German government has been funding social and medical aid for survivors of the siege in St. Petersburg since 2019.

The new diplomatic note from Moscow states that a humanitarian gesture appropriate to the events is still pending. (dpa/NAN)

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