Israel’s Holocaust museum apologizes for inaccurate videos

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German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier takes part in a wreath-laying ceremony at the World Holocaust Forum marking 75 years since the liberation of the Nazi extermination camp Auschwitz, at Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial centre in Jerusalem, Thursday, Jan. 23, 2020. (Ronen Zvulun, Pool via AP)

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JERUSALEM (AP) — Yad Vashem, Israel’s Holocaust memorial, issued an apology Monday for videos presented during a ceremony attended by world leaders last month, saying they included “a number of inaccuracies.”

Dan Michman, head of Yad Vashem’s International Institute for Holocaust Research, said in a statement that several short films aired at the World Holocaust Forum that were meant to give a summary of World War II “included a number of inaccuracies that resulted in a partial and unbalanced presentation of the historical facts.”

The January 23 event in Jerusalem was the largest gathering of its kind and hosted 45 world leaders, including Britain’s Prince Charles, U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, French President Emmanuel Macron, Russian President Vladimir Putin and German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier.

Yad Vashem said the videos neglected to mention Poland’s division between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union in 1939 or Nazi Germany’s conquest of Western Europe in 1940, showed incorrect borders of Poland and labeled concentration camps as extermination camps.

“We apologize for the unfortunate errors in these short films, which do not represent Yad Vashem’s approach to the historical issues portrayed,” the organization said in a statement.

January’s memorial event, which marked the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz death camp, was beset by conflict over competing national narratives as Russia and Poland seek to leverage their interpretation of the past for contemporary political gains.

Putin has tried to downplay the Soviet Union’s prewar pact with the Nazis to divide Poland, and shift responsibility for World War II’s outbreak on Poland, which was invaded by Nazi Germany and then the Soviet Union in 1939.

The president of Poland, which has tried to downplay its own complicity in the Holocaust, did not attend the event in Jerusalem in protest of Putin’s central role in the event and his own exclusion from the podium.

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