By The Associated Press
Yad Vashem supports Poland in its attempt to officially rename Auschwitz
to emphasize that German Nazis ran the death camp, but has asked for an
additional change, the director of the Israeli Holocaust memorial said
Thursday.

Poland’s government requested in March that UNESCO change the official
name of Auschwitz on its world heritage registry from “Auschwitz
Concentration Camp” to “Former Nazi German Concentration Camp
Auschwitz-Birkenau.”

Foreign media sometime refer to Auschwitz – a death camp located in
occupied Poland where Nazi Germany killed more than 1 million people –
as a “Polish concentration camp.” Such phrasing deeply wounds
sensitivities in Poland, which was subjected to a brutal occupation by
Adolf Hitler’s forces.

Avner Shalev, Yad Vashem’s director general, said his group supports
Poland’s wish to see Nazi German guilt emphasized in the name, but also
wants the word “extermination” added to underline that Adolf Hitler’s
regime sought to wipe out European Jewry.

“You can’t skip the word ‘extermination,”‘ Shalev told The Associated
Press during a visit to Warsaw. “This is important from the point of
view of historical objectivity.”

“Birkenau was the largest death camp that served as a major tool of the
Final Solution. It was an industry and it’s purpose was the murder of
the Jews in Europe until the very last person,” said Shalev, also the
memorial’s chief curator.

Shalev said Yad Vashem sent a letter to Poland’s Culture Ministry with
its request for the addition two weeks ago and has since heard back
informally from the ministry that Poland would support the change.

If the change goes through and includes Yad Vashem’s request, the name
would be: “Former Nazi German Extermination and Concentration Camp
Auschwitz-Birkenau,” Shalev said.

The death camp at Auschwitz was made a UNESCO World Heritage site in
1979.

The Paris-based UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization,
has refused to comment on the Polish request. A spokesman, Roni Amelan,
told the AP that the matter would be decided at an annual gathering of
member states this July in Vilnius, Lithuania.