Symbols of memory and determination for the future
June 22nd and July 3rd are two dates located closely on the calendar. The first always reminds us of the beginning of the Great Patriotic War and the end of peace. Hitler’s Germany attacked the USSR and our Republic, situated on the western border of the huge country, was the first to feel death and destruction. This year, we celebrated a mournful date – the 70th anniversary of the beginning of that terrible war. It’s known that Belarus, as no other country in Europe, suffered the greatest losses in those years, with a third of our residents killed. Even now, 70 years after the war, researchers assert that some losses remain unregistered. We usually hear that the fascists destroyed 628 villages, together with their inhabitants, with 186 never restored.
In the 1980s, tragic statistics were revealed, according to which 9,200 villages were burnt, with over 5,000 losing their inhabitants to fire. It is clear that these figures require revision. New materials, previously unknown and changing our perception of the scale of genocide in that terrible war, are published in a book entitled The Tragedy of Belarusian Villages: 1941-1945. ‘Nobody is forgotten, nothing is forgotten’ remains a symbolic phrase uniting our mournful recollections; it is also a moral indicator for today’s younger generation.
July 3rd is also significant, being the date on which the country celebrates Independence Day – when Minsk was liberated from the Nazis. It is a symbol of national revival, embracing freedom as our most valuable possession. In the 1940s, our countrymen died for the idea of freedom, defending our land from enemies, sacrificing themselves. During the first hours and days of the war, the defenders of legendary Brest Fortress showed unrivalled heroism. The words ‘I’m Dying but I Don’t Surrender’, scratched into a fortress wall, symbolise the courage and self-sacrifice of those who struggled against our enemies.
Our present state independence and sovereignty is built on the foundations of that time, although life brings fresh challenges and events. Of course, the present is always connected to the past by many threads.
Several years ago, Minsk first hosted the Belarus International Media Forum. At the time, few believed that it would become a regular, revered event among journalists worldwide but the latest forum, which took place this June, dispelled all doubt. Around 100 masters of the pen, camera and microphone arrived in the Belarusian capital - from France, Germany, Poland, the USA, Italy and almost every former Soviet Union republic. The slogan was ‘Partnership for the Future: Patriotism, Spirituality, Unity’.
The event was organised against the background of two important historical dates: the 70th anniversary of the attack of fascist Germany upon the Soviet Union, which marked the beginning of the Great Patriotic War, and the 20th anniversary of the foundation of the Commonwealth of Independent States. These two events left their mark on discussions, which ran high among these ‘gurus’ of international journalism. Degree of Objectivity is dedicated to this topic.
This summer, representatives of leading domestic and foreign agro-companies attended the 20th International Belagro-2011 Exhibition in Minsk. The event, traditionally held in the Belarusian capital, again attracted the attention of hundreds of participants, including those from abroad. Exposition of Harvest Field describes the fair in detail, alongside its integration business and partnership components.
This issue of the magazine is also dedicated to investment collaboration and education projects, alongside articles reflecting Belarus’ international ties and its diversity of cultural traditions. Of course, we’ll also tell you about our tourism opportunities. Our hearts and arms are always open to guests.
editor of magazine
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