The Officer's Cross of the Order of Merit of the Republic of Poland is being given personally by Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski to Kantor for Kantor's "exceptional support for Polish-Jewish reconciliation and help in preserving the memory of the Holocaust for future generations."
Kantor is chairman of the Board of Governors of the European Jewish Congress and the president of the World Holocaust Forum Foundation. He was the principal organizer of the Let My People Live International Forum, held in Krakow early this year to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz and to achieve a worldwide commitment to Holocaust remembrance through the launch of The European Education Program for Teachers on the Holocaust and its Lessons.
Participants in the forum also established a World Holocaust Forum - a standing international body that will convene every few years in order to assess achievements in Holocaust remembrance and education.
It was for this body of work and for his outstanding leadership of European Jewry that the Polish medal is being awarded to Kantor, the only non-Pole receiving the commendation.
"The Holocaust was without question, an earthquake in regards to human morals - the lowest point in the human history of civilization, Kantor said in remarks prepared for delivery after his receipt of the decoration. "If we want to safeguard the world, if we want to save humanity from itself and to create a better and safer world for our children, we most do all in our power to remember and learn. We must teach about the Holocaust and emphasize its lessons, and we must examine all the time were we stand in this regard."
"If world leaders are coming together every year in Davos to examine world's economy, they should do the same regarding the world's morals," Kantor would say.
In order to combat European anti-Semitism, Kantor also sought to unveil his vision for a positive Jewish Positioning System (JPS), an emphasis to the world on Jewish achievements and contributions to the nations and to mankind. Kantor sees a need not only to react to anti-Semitism but to act, to show the world that a lot of their national heroes in many fields - often to their surprise - were Jewish. "Acknowledging the contribution of it's Jewish citizens in every state in Europe and respecting them as fellow citizens and as Jews is the most effective way I see to fight Anti-Semitism," Kantor says.
Born in Moscow in 1953, Viatcheslav (Moshe) Kantor (52), is the son of a Jewish Red Army soldier from Zaporozhie in the Ukraine, identifies both with the liberators and the survivors of the Holocaust. A Russian industrialist and space entrepreneur, Kantor's leadership in the European Jewish Congress has cast him as the face of European Jewry just as the continent grapples with its historic role in the lives of the few remaining survivors of its death camps and ghettos.
Formally trained as a specialist in spacecraft automatic control systems and the author of more than 30 scientific works and inventions, Kantor received both his undergraduate and a Doctor's degree of Technical Sciences from the Moscow Aviation University. He is one of the most respected and well-known chief executives in the production sector of the Russian Federation.
Under his chairmanship of the coordinating board of the largest agrochemical enterprise (Joint Stock Company Acron), the company has been named eight times among the "Best Russian Enterprises" by the Chamber of Industry and Commerce and the Union of Manufacturers and Entrepreneurs of Russia. Kantor recently became the laureate of this competition and was himself named Entrepreneur of the Year.
For four years in the late 90's, Kantor was Economic Advisor to the Chairman of the Federation Council of the RF Federal Assembly.
Kantor is also president of the five year-old National Institute for Corporate Reform, the non-commercial organization uniting renowned politicians, businessmen and economist-scholars, aimed at providing efficient support to the reforming of Russian corporate enterprises.
In 2001, Kantor founded the Museum of Avant-Garde Mastery, an extraordinary collection of the masterpieces of those Jewish Diaspora artists who have made the most substantial contribution to the development of 20th Century avant-garde art.
And in 2002, Kantor was elected Vice President of the Euro-Asian Jewish Congress, where he coordinates cultural issues and promotes cooperation between local Jewish communities in Southeast Asia and China. Particularly active in Jewish Diaspora affairs in Russia and Europe, Mr. Kantor actively helped to open synagogues and Jewish cultural centers in Veliky Novgorod (Russia) and in Geneva.
In addition to serving as Chairman of the Board of Governors of the European Jewish Congress Kantor is also a member of the International Board of Hillel - The Foundation for Jewish Campus Life.
Last year, he established the Center for European Jewish Cultural Studies at the Tel Aviv University in Israel and at the same time was conferred an Honorary Doctor's degree.
Viatcheslav (Moshe) Kantor was previously awarded by the President of Russian Federation the Order of Friendship in recognition of his "merits to the fatherland and long-term conscientious work and substantial contribution to the promotion of friendship and cooperation between nations."
The Order of Merit of the People's Republic of Poland was instituted by an act of Polish Parliament in April, 1974. It is conferred to foreigners and Polish residents abroad for merit to the Polish country. Today's ceremony was to take place in the Polish embassy in London.