11 February 2021
Yad Vashem is profoundly concerned regarding the recent verdict rendered by the Polish court against researchers of the Holocaust of Polish Jewry, Professors Engelking and Grabowski , and again stresses the importance of academic freedom in comprehensive historical research. Yad Vashem acknowledges the court’s verdict, but remains deeply disturbed by its implications. Any attempt to limit academic and public discourse through political or legal pressure is unacceptable and constitutes a substantive blow to academic freedom.
Historical research must reflect the complex reality that existed in a given period, grounded in the scrupulous analysis of a body of existing documentation, as was done in this thorough book by the researchers. Yad Vashem knows and respects the professional work of the scholars and moreover will publish the English edition of their book. As with all research, this volume about the fate of Jews during the Holocaust is part of an ongoing discussion and as such is subject to critique in academia, but not in courts.
The existing diverse documentation, along with many decades of historical research, shows that under the draconian Nazi German occupation of Poland and despite the widespread suffering of the Polish people under that occupation, there were Poles who were actively involved in the persecution of the Jews and in their murder.
The prosecution of researchers and journalists who deal with these issues, instead of pursuing academic discussion as is the norm throughout the world, constitutes a real threat to academic and press freedom.
Yad Vashem will continue to be committed to the research of the Holocaust and to provide opportunities and conditions for researchers and educators from Israel and around the world to confront the complex truth of the Holocaust period without limitations, not only regarding Poland but for all of the countries where the Holocaust took place.