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10 January 2024, 08:30

Lukashenko awards BelTA for preserving historical memory

MINSK, 10 January (BelTA) – Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenko acknowledged the contribution of the BelTA News Agency to preserving historical memory as he spoke at the ceremony to present the Spiritual Revival Award, the special prize for cultural and art figures and the Belarusian Sports Olympus Award on 9 January, BelTA has learned.
The BelTA News Agency, the Belarusian State Television and Radio Company (Belteleradiocompany) and the Prosecutor General’s Office were awarded the special prize for cultural and art figures for their significant contribution to the preservation of historical memory and the truth about the Great Patriotic War, namely for their projects “Last Witnesses”, “Genocide: No Right to Life”.
Aleksandr Lukashenko presented the diploma to BelTA Director General Irina Akulovich and leading art editor Irina Bufetova.
“It is obvious to us that peace is the most important thing for any nation, especially Belarusians, because we know at what price it comes. The projects “Last Witnesses”, “Genocide: No Right to Life” are a tribute to the memory of the innocent victims and heroes of the Great Patriotic War: “Today we thank the team of authors of our prosecutor’s office, the BelTA News Agency, the Belteleradiocompany who have worked through the pain and suffering of the war generation. These videos chronicle horrible crimes and we will not allow ourselves and those who bear historical responsibility for them to forget these crimes. We will have peace as long as we remember these things. As soon as we forget the path to churches and war monuments - another war will erupt,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.
The book Last Witnesses is a joint project of BelTA and the Prosecutor General’s Office. The book contains stories of underage prisoners of Nazi concentration camps that were recorded during the investigation by the Prosecutor General’s Office of the criminal case of the genocide of the Belarusian people. The materials that were published on BelTA resources throughout a year, laid the basis for the book that was timed to the Year of Historical Memory.
“This is not just another book. The project began with materials that were published in the 7 Days newspaper. The entire editorial team worked very hard on this project: 22 articles about the war survivors were published throughout the year,” BelTA Director General Irina Akulovich said.
BelTA journalists had to process a huge amount of information - thousands of testimonies about horrible events and unconscionable crimes. The journalists met with former concentration camp prisoners to hear stories of immense tragedy, pain and hope. These accounts laid the basis for a series of documentary stories - tragic and difficult, but very touching and warm. Later the published materials made part of an online project.
“We approached the General Prosecutor’s Office with a proposal to publish a book documenting all these testimonies. We published 1,500 copies - they sold out immediately, and we even had to reprint the book,” noted Irina Akulovich. “This work is very important for each of us, because pain from this war is in the genes of every Belarusian: many lost loved ones and family members; every family has its own tragic stories to tell about the war. We need to preserve this memory and pass it on to generations to come. Of course, this work will continue through other books, other projects,” she said.
The reminiscences of former concentration camp prisoners are tragic and haunting. According to the director general, the account that touched her the most was a story of Borisov resident Emilia Kopytok. The 10-year-old girl dubbed Squirrel for her red hair, went through six concentration camps and survived!
“When you read stories where a child sees baths filled with human fat that is used to make soap, or little children and their mothers murdered, such accounts leave an indelible mark on you,” Irina Akulovich added.

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