Call for More Scrutiny of Pius XII’s Role
At the entrance to Yad Vashem, the visitor is greeted by an old clip of Jewish children in the Ukraine singing “Hatikva,” the national anthem. The visit ends with the establishment of the State of Israel.
Still, one notable difference is that the Arabs are no longer presented as Nazis: the placing of the 1941 photo of Hitler meeting the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem is no longer as accentuated as before. The museum has also adopted a neutral stance concerning the Nazi-established “Jewish Councils,” otherwise known as Judenrat. The visitors can now draw up their judgment of the councils based on their activities in both the Warsaw and Lodz ghettos. The impression now is that the Judenrat leaders too, were victims of the Holocaust. Formerly, they were all considered villains.
One of the striking differences concerns the museum’s depiction of Rejso, Israel Kestner, one the leaders of Hungarian Jewry. In 1955, an Israeli court ruled that Kestner had “sold his soul to the devil” after he was accused of being a Nazi collaborator. He was murdered two years later in Tel Aviv. Now, Kestner’s contacts with the Nazis are depicted as praiseworthy actions that saved Jews. The change is due, partially, to the fact that Kestner’s friend, Yosef “Tommy” Lapid, served as Yad Vashem’s chairman. The wording under Kestner’s photograph – as in all other captions in the museum – is formulated in an extremely cautious manner, weighing the meaning of every single word. The English version is slightly more positive than the Hebrew.
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