14 June 2004
Avner Shalev, Chairman, Yad Vashem Directorate, in a letter to Angela Merkel, leader of the CDU/CSU, urged reconsideration of a motion that equates the Nazi dictatorship and the Communist regime. The motion, titled, “Funding of Memorials of the History of Dictatorships in Germany - A General Concept for a Dignified Commemoration of all Victims of the two German Dictatorships” was submitted by the Christian Democratic Union/Christian Social Union to the Bundestag. It aims to fundamentally change the policy towards memorial museums in Germany dealing with the Nazi period and blurs the distinction between the crimes of Nazism and those of the communist era. It comes up for a vote on Thursday.
In his letter Shalev warned that “If adopted, this policy will eventually lead to obscuring the uniqueness of the Nazi persecution … and the minimization of the Holocaust,” and will offset many of the German contribution in the fields of Holocaust remembrance and education.
“The proposed bill is an affront to the historical truth. The crimes of the communist totalitarian regime need to be remembered. This, however, should not lead to a simplification and misrepresentation of the past, which border on historical revisionism. Memory needs to be firmly rooted in an accurate representation of the past. Unless the historical distinctions are upheld, the present motion may contribute to the distortion of the way in which young Germans perceive their past,” Shalev wrote.