Warsaw, Poland – Israeli Holocaust memorial centre Yad Vashem apologized earlier this week for “errors” and “inaccuracies” shown in videos and maps (pictured above) presented during last month’s international Holocaust commemorations.
Holocaust research centre says sorry for historical “inaccuracies”
Co-organizers of a high-profile event commemorating the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz liberation camp in Jerusalem on January 23 and attended by over 40 heads of state and government, Yad Vashem had shown films retracing the events and history of World War II and the Holocaust.
On Tuesday, the centre admitted “inaccuracies that resulted in partial and unbalanced presentation of historical facts” in the films, produced by Yad Vashem in cooperation with the World Holocaust Forum Foundation.
“As an institution, our obligation to Israel and the Jewish people is – and will continue to be – to stick to historical fact as far as it may be ascertained, and to investigate in order to oppose attempts to blur and distort the political discourse in various countries”, the organization said in a letter to Haaretz.
According to Yad Vashem head of research Dan Michman, the films failed to mention “the division of Poland between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union in 1939 or to the conquest of Western Europe in 1940”.
“In addition, the maps show incorrect borders between Poland and its neighbours and erroneously identify concentration camps as extermination camps […] These short films were meant to serve as illustrations. However, they do not reflect the complexity of the Holocaust and the war, to which Yad Vashem dedicates its ongoing research”, he added in a blog post.
Poland and Russia clash over conflicting historical narratives
Widely mocked and ridiculed on social media, the inaccurate maps and timelines used in the films shown by Yad Vashem during the January 23 event came amidst wider diplomatic tensions between Poland, Russia and Israel.
In December, Russian President Vladimir Putin started a bitter feud with Warsaw by falsely claiming that Poland had contributed to the outbreak of World War II and colluded with Nazi Germany. Polish officials and historians slammed Putin’s comments as “historical revisionism” while President Andrzej Duda eventually cancelled his participation to the Jerusalem event – co-organized by Moshe Kantor, Russian billionaire, head of the World Holocaust Forum Foundation and close Putin ally – after he wasn’t allowed to deliver a speech.
“It is unacceptable, at a conference dedicated to the Holocaust, for Vladimir Putin to be one of the key speakers and for Poland’s president not to be able to speak”, Poland’s deputy-Foreign Minister Paweł Jabłoński declared at the time.
Historians, critics and public officials have accused Israel’s Yad Vashem and other organizers of the event – including Foreign Minister Israel Katz who last year sparked outrage by declaring that Poles “suckle anti-Semitism with their mothers’ milk – of legitimizing and lending weight to Russia’s revisionist historical narrative.