9 Mar 2023 12:58

Russian Jewish Congress proposes that word Holocaust be capitalized, with relevant amendments in Russian dictionaries

MOSCOW. March 9 (Interfax) - The Russian Jewish Congress has formally applied to the Spelling Commission and the Russian Language Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences, the spelling expert bodies, so that the word Holocaust is capitalized in Russian as the only acceptable spelling.

"The annual, 9th, Week of Remembrance of Holocaust Victims took place in Russia in January, with hundreds of events across the country, and over 1,000 related media reports," Russian Jewish Congress spokesman Mikhail Savin told Interfax on Thursday. "Yet we have noted that many, including federal media outlets, write the word Holocaust with a lowercase letter h. In doing so, they rely on spelling dictionaries, where such spelling is recorded," he said.

A number of sources recommend capitalizing the word only if it refers to the historical event (the massive extermination of Jews by the Nazis during WW2), while using the lowercase letter h wherever it is used as a synonym for genocide, Savin said. "However, Holocaust is not a synonym for genocide. It is an absolutely distinct notion, which means massive extermination of Jews by the Nazis during WW2," he said.

The Russian Jewish Congress believes that the only correct spelling of the word Holocaust in Russian should be with a capital h irrespective of the context, as it is a proper name denoting a specific historical tragedy: Jewish genocide.

"Not just because this emphasizes respect for the memory of its victims, but because, above all, this helps avoid an erosion of the very notion of Holocaust, which is used to describe practically any negative event and insults the memory of 6 million deceased Jews, about half of them citizens of the Soviet Union. It also downplays the feat of the righteous among nations, who risked their lives to save Jews in the occupied territories, and the Red Army soldiers who freed inmates of Nazi prison camps and ghettos," he said.

"We assume that the discussion and approval of a new spelling norm is a long process, so we recommend that governmental and civil organizations, media and the general public start capitalizing the word Holocaust now and use this word only in its direct meaning," Savin said.