Yad Vashem embarrassed after World Holocaust Forum

Vladimir Putin and Meir Lau, president of the Yad Vashem memorial, at the World Holocaust Forum in Jerusalem on January 23.
Vladimir Putin and Meir Lau, president of the Yad Vashem memorial, at the World Holocaust Forum in Jerusalem on January 23. ABIR SULTAN / REUTERS


CNRS Holocaust historian Annette Wieviorka was there "Dazed". During the World Holocaust Forum, which was held on January 23 in Jerusalem, a series of videos had been shown at the Yad Vashem memorial, in the presence of some 40 heads of state and government. Supposed to sum up the Second World War, these images gave a truncated and politicized account of history, tending to present the Soviet Union as the sole winner of the conflict. A story close to that of the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, present in Jerusalem, a few minutes later in the gallery.

Yad Vashem, a memorial, archive and research center frequented by historians around the world, ended up apologizing. Dan Michman, director of his Holocaust research institute, published a column in the daily on February 3 Haaretz. He lamented there "A number of errors which have resulted in a biased and unbalanced presentation of the historical facts".

"Poutinian vision"

The institution regrets that these videos neglected to mention the partition of Poland between the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany in 1939 and the German occupation of Eastern Europe in 1940. Combining factual errors and ideological bias, they showed an improper layout of the borders of Poland and its neighbors, neglected to mention Ukraine and improperly designated concentration camps as extermination camps.

"It was a Poutinian vision of the Second World War, which began with the German army invading Soviet Russia. It left the impression that the Soviets had liberated the Majdanek and Treblinka camps, without anything pointing out that these camps were empty, having been evacuated in previous months by the Germans. It was in total dissonance with the historical rigor that Yad Vashem usually shows ", laments Mme Wieviorka, who accompanied French President Emmanuel Macron to Jerusalem.

If Yad Vashem judges them "Regrettable", these errors are not due to chance. A man judged close to the Kremlin by several Israeli officials, Russian businessman Moshe Kantor, largely organized and funded this event. The founder of the World Holocaust Forum convinced Yad Vashem and the Israeli presidency to host its fifth edition, a few days before the 75e anniversary of the discovery of the Nazi Auschwitz extermination camp by Red Army troops.


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