01 August 2016
Yad Vashem Chairman Avner Shalev has sent correspondence to the Polish Minister of Education H.E. Ms. Anna Zalewska expressing his concern regarding recently expressed attitudes among the Polish leadership in reference to the circumstances of and responsibility for specific events during and immediately following the Holocaust in Poland.
In the letter, he stated: "Among the troubling reports are accounts of your own expressed perception of the massacres of the Jews in Jedwabne in 1941 and in Kielce in 1946 as being "controversial" events full of "historical intricacies," perpetrated by unspecified "antisemites" of unclear ethnicity. "
"As Chairman of Yad Vashem, the World Holocaust Remembrance Center in Jerusalem, I am certain, as are bona fide Holocaust historians around the world, including in Poland, that solid and comprehensive historiographical evidence leaves no doubt in this respect. The active and extensive participation of Poles in the initiation and implementation of these two atrocities is an extensively documented historical fact. To claim otherwise is to facilitate, albeit unintentionally, a dangerous form of Holocaust distortion."
Shalev went on to write: "Attempts to ignore the fact that there were instances during and after World War II in which Jews were murdered on Polish soil by their Polish neighbors not only undermine long-standing and meticulous academic research, but are also liable to damage years of worthy efforts to promote understanding between Poles and Jews. Surely, this was not your intention, and neither is it your goal as Minister of National Education."
In closing, Shalev respectfully requested the Minister to reconsider this subject and "to express your confidence in the findings of unbiased research of Poland's past."