(photo credit: )
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 its 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.