Yad Vashem rebukes Israeli and Polish governments over Holocaust law

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial center in Jerusalem in April. (photo: Tsafrir Abayov / Associated Press)

The venerated authority on the Holocaust rebukes the prime ministers of both Israel and Poland.

By Isabel Kershner | The New York Times | Jul 5, 2018

“I don’t know what was going on here — ignorance, stupidity or the clear amoral victory of transient interests that will remain with us as an eternal disgrace.”
— Yad Vashem historian Yehuda Bauer

Israel’s official Holocaust memorial center on Thursday issued a stinging critique of a joint statement by the Israeli and Polish prime ministers that was meant to resolve a rift between the countries over a contentious Polish law on the Holocaust.

The Polish law, which made it illegal to accuse Poland of complicity in the Holocaust, was amended last week. The two leaders — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel and his Polish counterpart, Mateusz Morawiecki — issued their statement in an effort to put the controversy over the law behind them.

But the memorial center, Yad Vashem, said the statement contained “grave errors and deceptions.”

Among other things, it objected to the statement’s assertion that the wartime Polish governement-in-exile tried to stop the systematic murder of Polish Jews in Nazi death camps by trying to raise awareness among the Western allies, and that it “created a mechanism of systematic help and support to Jewish people.”

Yad Vashem, a venerated state institution and the country’s hallowed authority on Holocaust education, documentation and research, said “existing documentation and decades of historical research yield a totally different picture.”

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