Sunday, 20 Jun 2021 - 10 of Tammuz, 5781

Yad Vashem ‘profoundly concerned’ by Polish court verdict in libel case against Holocaust researchers

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‘’Yad Vashem acknowledges the court’s verdict, but remains deeply disturbed by its implications.  Any attempt to limit academic and public discourse through political or legal pressure is unacceptable and constitutes a substantive blow to academic freedom,’’ said a statement issued by the World Holocaust Remembrance Center in Jerusalem.

 

Yad Vashem has expressed ‘’profound concern’’ regarding the recent verdict rendered by a Polish court in a libel case against two Holocaust researchers, Professors Engelking and Grabowski.

Last week, the court ordered professors Jan Grabowski and Barbara Engelking, the editors of “Night Without End: The Fate of Jews in Selected Counties of Occupied Poland,” to issue a retraction of their work and apologize to Edward Malinowski, the former mayor of Malinowo, Poland.

Malinowski’s niece initiated the libel suit after the researchers’ two-volume study cites a Polish survivor as saying that Malinowski gave up Jews to the Nazis.

‘’Yad Vashem acknowledges the court’s verdict, but remains deeply disturbed by its implications.  Any attempt to limit academic and public discourse through political or legal pressure is unacceptable and constitutes a substantive blow to academic freedom,’’ said a statement issued by the World Holocaust Remembrance Center in Jerusalem.

‘’Historical research must reflect the complex reality that existed in a given period, grounded in the scrupulous analysis of a body of existing documentation, as was done in this thorough book by the researchers.  Yad Vashem knows and respects the professional work of the scholars and moreover will publish the English edition of their book.  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,’’ Yad Vashem added.

Grabowski is a professor of history at the University of Ottawa in Canada, and Engelking is the founder and director of the Polish Center for Holocaust Research in Warsaw.

‘’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,’’ Yad Vashem noted.

‘’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.’’

Yad Vashem said it will continue to be committed to the research of the Holocaust and to provide opportunities and conditions for researchers and educators from Israel and around the world ‘’to confront the complex truth of the Holocaust period without limitations, not only regarding Poland but for all of the countries where the Holocaust took place.’’

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