Israeli Historian Accused of Whitewashing Srebrenica Now Faces Allegations of Holocaust Distortion
Prof. Gideon Greif rebuked for allegedly inflating the death toll at Jasenovac, a Croatian death camp during World War II, in order to boost the Serbian national narrative; he denies the accusations
Sam Sokol May 11, 2022
Six months ago, Prof. Gideon Greif was on top of the world.
A respected Holocaust scholar, he was set to receive Germany’s highest civilian honor for his research on the Sonderkommandos, Jewish prisoners who were forced to dispose of bodies at the Nazi death camps. Years earlier his research was adapted into an award-winning feature film, "Son of Saul."
But the civilian honor in Germany was soon rescinded amid allegations that Greif was a genocide denier who tried to whitewash the murder of 8,000 Bosnian Muslim men and boys by Bosnian Serb forces at Srebrenica in July 1995.
Now the 71-year-old scholar, who this year announced plans to revise a controversial war crimes report he co-wrote on behalf of Serb nationalists, again faces allegations of sacrificing historical accuracy to bolster a nationalist narrative.
He allegedly has inflated the death toll at Jasenovac, a Croatian death camp where, according to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, the German-allied Ustasha regime murdered between 77,000 and 99,000 people during the Holocaust.
The controversy relates to Greif’s cooperation with the Serbian government to produce an exhibit, and later a book, about Jasenovac. According to Greif, at least 700,000 people died at the camp, a figure repudiated by contemporary scholars and promoted by Serbian nationalists.
“I would say that the minimum number is 700,000 and maybe more,” he said on Serbian television in 2019. “So this is the beginning number. Maybe about 800,000 Serbs, 40,000 Jews.”
Both the exhibit and the book followed a number of cooperation agreements brokered by the Serbian Foreign Ministry and signed by Greif in 2016 and 2017 on behalf of two groups he was affiliated with, the International Group of Experts GH7-Stop Revisionism and Shem Olam, an Israeli Holocaust education and research institute. The Serbian signatories included civil society groups and the country’s Ministry of Education, Science and Technological Development.