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article imageIsrael Holocaust memorial admits historical 'errors' at Auschwitz event

By AFP     Feb 4, 2020 in World

Israel's Holocaust memorial centre apologised Tuesday over "errors" in films screened during a high-profile ceremony last month that distorted events related to the Soviet Union and Poland during World War II.

The Yad Vashem centre in Jerusalem said some of the material shown at the January 23 event attended by more than 40 heads of state and government included "inaccuracies that resulted in partial and unbalanced presentation of historical facts."

The ceremony marking 75 years since the Soviet Red Army liberated the Nazi death camp Auschwitz was co-organised by the World Holocaust Forum Foundation, led by Russian billionaire and Kremlin ally Moshe Kantor.

The films shown at the event were produced by Kantor's foundation "in cooperation" with Yad Vashem, a spokesman for the institution told AFP.

The films made no mention of "the division of Poland between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union in 1939 or to the conquest of Western Europe in 1940," Yad Vashem head of research Dan Michman wrote in a blog.

"In addition, the maps show incorrect borders between Poland and its neighbours and erroneously identify concentration camps as exterminations camps.

"These short films were meant to serve as illustrations. However they do not reflect the complexity of the Holocaust and the war, to which Yad Vashem dedicates its ongoing research," he added.

The ceremony was held amid a bitter dispute over WWII history between Poland and Russia.

In December, Russian President Vladimir Putin falsely claimed that Poland had colluded with Nazi German dictator Adolf Hitler and contributed to the outbreak of World War II.

Polish President Andrzej Duda then declined to attend the ceremony in Jerusalem after he was not given a speaking slot, even though the Nazis built Auschwitz on Polish territory.

The Soviet collaboration with the Nazis remains highly sensitive in the ex-Soviet bloc and frequently crops up in political rhetoric.

Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union invaded and carved up Poland in September 1939 under a secret clause of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact. The Nazi invasion prompted Britain and France to declare war on Germany.

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