Ireland is in no position to lecture other countries on morality given its neutrality during the second World War, Russian ambassador to Ireland Yury Filatov has said.
In a message to mark International Holocaust Memorial Day, he also claimed that then taoiseach Éamon de Valera wished Adolf Hitler a happy birthday in April 1945 when “Soviet and Allied soldiers were still dying in the battle against Nazis”.
There is no historical record of Mr de Valera wishing Hitler a happy birthday, though there was international criticism of his decision to express his condolences to the German ambassador to Ireland after Hitler killed himself in Berlin on April 30th, 1945. The move has been seen since as one of his biggest diplomatic blunders.
He justified it on the basis that it would be an “unpardonable discourtesy” to the German nation and to Dr Hempel as his conduct during the war was “irreproachable .... I certainly was not going to add to his humiliation in the hour of defeat”.
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Mr Filatov said it was “not appropriate in any way for the Irish government to try teach anyone morality” because of Mr de Valera’s actions. He noted that 27 million Soviet Union citizens died during the second World War “while Ireland enjoyed neutrality”.
The ambassador also accused the Irish and other Western governments of supporting the “ultranationalist, neo-Nazi regime in Kiev, that glorifies (Stephen) Bandera and other World War II Nazi collaborators”. This, he added, had led to the current military confrontation in Ukraine.
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, he said, had resorted to a “Western-invented cliché” when he referred to Russia’s “evil and brutal war in Ukraine” during a speech to mark International Holocaust Memorial Day last week.
The memorial day was chosen by the United Nations in 2005 to recognise when the Soviet Red Army liberated the Auschwitz-Birkenau (Oswiecim) Nazi concentration camp in Poland and stopped the extermination of people there and at other death camps in Poland, Germany and Austria.