President Reuven Rivlin and Russian President Vladimir Putin at the Fifth World Holocaust Forum
President Reuven Rivlin and Russian President Vladimir Putin at the Fifth World Holocaust Forum
Photo: Flash90
President Reuven Rivlin and Russian President Vladimir Putin at the Fifth World Holocaust Forum

Yad Vashem apologizes for downplaying Soviet involvement in World War II

Senior official says videos screened at Holocaust memorial event last month omitted references to partition of Poland between Soviets, Nazi Germany, and occupation of Western Europe

Amir Alon |
Published: 02.03.20 , 18:19
Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial Museum issued an unusual apology on Monday for inaccuracies downplaying the Soviet Union's part in the outbreak of World War II and crimes committed during the war at the Fifth World Holocaust Forum.
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  • "Unfortunately, there were some inaccuracies in the videos accompanying the event, especially in one video meant to succinctly present major key points leading to and during World War II and the Holocaust, which presented a partial picture of the historical facts and may have created an imbalanced impression," Wrote Head of the International Institute for Holocaust Research at Yad Vashem Prof. Dan Michman ina a letter published in the daily Haaretz newspaper.
    President Reuven Rivlin and Russian President Vladimir Putin at the Fifth World Holocaust Forum President Reuven Rivlin and Russian President Vladimir Putin at the Fifth World Holocaust Forum
    President Reuven Rivlin and Russian President Vladimir Putin at the Fifth World Holocaust Forum
    (Photo: Flash90)
    "The videos did not include any reference to the partition of Poland between Soviet Russia and Nazi Germany in 1939 or the occupation of Western Europe in 1940. In addition, the maps presented at the event had incorrect boundaries of Poland and its neighbors and misidentification of concentration camps as extermination camps."
    Michman said the videos, intended to serve as illustrations, and not represent the complex picture of the Holocaust and World War II.
    "Yad Vashem has continuously toiled to investigate without impartiality, out of criticism and openness to new findings."
    We apologize for this very unfortunate incident. As mentioned, these videos do not represent Yad Vashem's position on these issues.
    Our commitment, as a memorial and research institution representing the State of Israel and the Jewish people, is and will continue to be to unveil the historical truth as much as possible and prevent attempts to obscure and distort political discourse in other countries."
    In this letter, we would also like to take responsibility for and recognize our mistakes and inaccuracies. We are willing to point them out and correct them, in this incident as well as others."
    יד ושם התנצל על סרטונים שהוקרנו בפורום השואה אשר התעלמו מהחלק של רוסיה באחריות לפרוץ המלחמהיד ושם התנצל על סרטונים שהוקרנו בפורום השואה אשר התעלמו מהחלק של רוסיה באחריות לפרוץ המלחמה
    Snap from a video screened at the event about the outbreak of WWII containing inaccuracies
    (Photo: Mizmor Productions Inc.)
    The mega-event took place in Jerusalem last month and gathered dozens of world leaders together in one place to commemorate the victims of the Holocaust.
    Russian President Vladimir Putin was one of the guests of honor at the ceremony and also served as a key-speaker.
    Polish President Andrzej Duda had boycotted the ceremony after he was refused by the organizers to speak at the ceremony. Poland and Russia have been in an ongoing dispute in recent months after Putin made remarks shifting some of the blame for the outbreak of World War II on Poland while downplaying the Soviet Union's part in the war and the Holocaust.
    Duda was likely to respond to the Russian president's comments as the political echelons in Poland have continuously accused Putin and Russia of revisionism of historical events and dictating a false narrative.
    Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and his delegation also canceled their participation at the event at the last minute to allow more Holocaust survivors to partake in it.
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