Yad Vashem Protests Court Ruling Against Holocaust Researchers

Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau, himself a Holocaust survivor, at a ceremony in Yad Vashem for Holocaust Remembrance Day, 2018. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Yad Vashem released a statement expressing its “profound concern” about the Polish court ruling ordering two Holocaust researchers to apologize for publishing cases of complicity with the Nazis.

The Holocaust museum said it was “deeply disturbed by [the] implications” of the ruling. “Any attempt to limit academic and public discourse through political or legal pressure is unacceptable and constitutes a substantive blow to academic freedom.”

Yad Vashem said it will publish the English edition of the book, Night Without End by Professors Barbara Engelking and Jan Grabowski. “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,” the statement read.

Lawyers for the niece of a World War II-era Polish mayor who was depicted as a collaborater in the book, had demanded the authors pay 100,000 zlotys ($27,000). However, the court rejected this, and ruled the authors submit a written apology for “providing inaccurate information,” according to the German news site DW.

The authors have said they will appeal against the decision.

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