On 6 February, 2018, President Duda of Poland signed the amendment of the Act on the Institute of National Remembrance in to power. The IHRA Chair made a statement on the decision stating: “Over the last few days, the experts of our Committee on Antisemitism and Holocaust Denial and our Honorary Chairman, Professor Yehuda Bauer, have all raised their voices to underline the right to free and open research and discourse. We are disappointed that their voices, along with so many other diplomats, educators, and academics, were not heeded.”
For more information, the Chair of IHRA’s Committee on Antisemitism and Holocaust Denial, Dr Robert Williams, and our Honorary Chairman, Professor Yehuda Bauer, are available to discuss the potential impact of this amendment on Holocaust discourse and memory.
A form of Holocaust Distortion
“Forced manipulation of discourse in this manner violates the tenets upon which the international community that Poland and its allies have built over the course of decades. It is also not in keeping with the spirit of the mission of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance – an organization of which Poland has been a member since 1999. By inviting the possibility of punishment for research that considers the Holocaust and associated crimes in all of its facets, this act will lead to the circumscribing of history, which is but one form of Holocaust distortion.”
Dr Robert J. Williams can discuss the impact of the amendment to the Polish legislation for academics, the incorrect use of the term ‘Polish Death Camps’, and Holocaust distortion.
He is a member of the United States delegation to the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance, where he chairs the committee on Archival Access and the Committee on Holocaust Denial and Antisemitism.
The right to be wrong
“The legislation is designed to make research of this difficult and complicated subject impossible: it supposedly protects scientific and artistic works from criminalization. But who determines what such works are? What about an investigative journalist? An aspiring but not (yet?) recognized artist? Or a tourist guide explaining how the local population gleefully robbed the property of the Jews as they were being herded to be murdered? Or a simple B.A. student writing a seminar paper and asking for material at an archive – when they submit their paper, will they then serve 3 years in jail because they found that a group of villagers murdered their Jewish neighbors?”
Professor Yehuda Bauer can discuss the history of the Holocaust in Nazi-Occupied Poland, the topic of collaboration, and Poland within the context of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance.
He is the Honorary Chairman of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance and Professor Emeritus of History and Holocaust Studies at the Avraham Harman Institute of Contemporary Jewry at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and Academic Advisor to Yad Vashem. Professor Bauer is fluent in Czech, Slovak, German, Hebrew, Yiddish, and English.
Interview request for Professor Bauer should be made through the IHRA office in Berlin.
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The IHRA unites governments and experts to strengthen, advance and promote Holocaust education, remembrance and research worldwide, and to uphold the commitments of the 2000 Stockholm Declaration.