Israeli Holocaust centre apologises for historical ‘errors’

Israel’s Yad Vashem apologised for “a partial picture of the historical events” at a recent Holocaust commemoration event, but failed to clarify potential ties between the organisation and the Russian president, according to Israeli daily Haaretz.

The World Holocaust Forum hosted by Yad Vashem in Jerusalem on January 23 was heavily criticised for allowing Russian President Vladimir Putin to deliver his narrative on history, especially as the right to speak was denied to the president of Poland which has been embroiled in a spat with Russia over history. Read more:  Auschwitz: Lithuanian president calls to ‘search for truth’ amid disputes with Moscow

On February 3, Yad Vashem admitted that film clips shown during the ceremony marking the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz “included a number of inaccuracies that resulted in a partial and unbalanced presentation of the historical facts”.

“We apologise for the unfortunate errors in these short films, which do not represent Yad Vashem’s approach to the historical issues portrayed,” Dan Michman, the head of Yad Vashem’s International Institute for Holocaust Research, wrote in a statement.  Read more:  Is Dutch Holocaust apology relevant to Lithuania?

Read more:  Poland and Putin in war over World War Two

Yad Vashem said the clips failed to mention Poland’s division between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union in 1939, nor did they acknowledge Nazi Germany’s conquest of Western Europe a year later. The clips also showed incorrect borders of Poland and labeled concentration camps as extermination camp, the statement said.

The videos also did not contain any references to Ukraine, according to Haaretz, a liberal Israeli newspaper.

After Yad Vashem published the apology as a letter to the editor in Haaretz, journalist Ofer Aderet from the daily called on the centre to “tell the public the whole truth about what went on behind the scenes at the ceremony”.

Read more:  Israel sold Holocaust memory to Putin

“First and foremost, it must clarify the exact nature of the ties and relationship between Yad Vashem and Moshe Kantor, the president of the European Jewish Congress,” he wrote.

According to Aderet, Moshe Kantor is an oligarch and a billionaire considered close to Putin, and also funds a research centre headed by a chief historian from Yad Vashem.

“The public has the right to know if there is a connection between his financial support and the content of the event held at Yad Vashem,” wrote Aderet.

Putin and Poland at loggerheads

In an increasingly vicious confrontation over World War Two and the Holocaust, Lithuanian President Gitanas Nausėda boycotted the Yad Vashem event in solidarity with his Polish counterpart, Andrzej Duda, who was not given the right to deliver a speech.  Read more:  What is the message behind Lithuanian president’s cancelled trip to Jerusalem?

Putin has blamed Warsaw for being partially responsible for starting the Second World War. Polish President Duda said Putin was “consciously spreading historical lies”.

Deutsche Welle  contributed   to the reporting.

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