30 December 2002
At the opening session of the international conference at Yad Vashem, entitled “Confronting History - The Historical Commissions of Inquiry,” Chairman of the Yad Vashem Directorate, Avner Shalev, called on the nations of Europe to continue the confrontation with Holocaust history in their nations. “Despite the desire to repress and to forget, without acknowledging historical facts, it will not be possible to stabilize the system of democratic values on which Europe shapes its future.”
Regarding information released pertaining to the opening of the Vatican’s archives, Shalev stated that “In contrast to the various countries that established historical commissions of inquiry, financed them and gave the directives to open their national archives towards this purpose, the historical commission established to probe the Vatican was forced to dismantle due to the large amount of integral information kept confidential. Even presently, the Vatican’s pledge to make documents from its archive public only relates to documents until the year 1939. From the podium of this international conference entitled “Confronting History,” I call upon the Vatican to open its archives pertaining to the most critical years for the Jewish people and all humanity-the wartime years (WWII) and the Holocaust.”
Dozens of representatives of European historical commissions of inquiry will present their findings from 13 different countries at the international conference. The conference will run from December 29, 2002 to January 1, 2003 and is sponsored by the International Institute for Holocaust Research at Yad Vashem in conjunction with the World Jewish Congress, the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany, Inc., and the World Jewish Restitution Organization (W.J.R.O.).