Fifth World Holocaust Forum at the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial museum
Fifth World Holocaust Forum at the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial museum Flash 90

Two weeks ago, on January 23, a major international event took place at Yad Vashem at the initiative of The World Holocaust Forum Foundation. This important event sought to strengthen Holocaust memory and to promote action to confront the recent worrying tide of antisemitic incidents. Unfortunately, the short films that accompanied the event, and especially the film that was meant briefly to present the key points of World War II and the Holocaust, included a number of inaccuracies that resulted in a partial and unbalanced presentation of the historical facts. The films do not relate to 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 neighbors and erroneously identify concentration camps as exterminations 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, with a critical eye, without bias, and open to new findings. In its multifaceted activities – in numerous publications and through the education of the many who come to study here – Yad Vashem presents a varied public with a complex picture of these historical events that is constantly updated in accordance with the latest research.

We apologize for the unfortunate errors in these short films, which do not represent Yad Vashem’s approach to the historical issues portrayed. As Israel’s and the Jewish People’s national memorial and research institution on the Holocaust, we reiterate our ongoing commitment to historical truth, and to research that stands opposed to efforts at obfuscation and distortion by the political discourse in various countries. Out of this commitment, and out of our sense of responsibility, we include also recognition of our own mistakes and a readiness to note them and correct them, both in this case and in others that may arise.

Prof. Dan Michman is Head of the Yad Vashem International Institute of Holocaust Research and John Najmann Professor of Holocaust Research