Léon Poliakov (Russian: Лев Поляков; 25 November 1910, Saint Petersburg – 8 December 1997, Orsay) was a French historian who wrote extensively on the Holocaust and antisemitism and wrote "The Aryan Myth".
Born into a Russian Jewish family, Poliakov lived in Italy and Germany until he settled in France.
He cofounded the Center of Contemporary Jewish Documentation, established to collate documentation on the persecution of Jews during World War II. He also assisted Edgar Faure at the Nuremberg Trial.
Poliakov went on to serve as director of research at the National Centre for Scientific Research (Centre national de la recherche scientifique) from 1954 to 1971.
According to historian Jos Sanchez, Poliakov was the first scholar to assess the disposition of Pope Pius XII critically on various issues connected to the Holocaust. In November 1950, Poliakov wrote "The Vatican and the 'Jewish Question' - The Record of the Hitler Period-And After" in the influential Jewish journal . The article was the first to consider the attitude of the papacy during World War II and the Holocaust, but it was not until 1963, when German playwright Rolf Hochhuth published his play Der Stellvertreter, that discussion of Poliakov's initial investigations in this area took on worldwide significance.
Although little noted at the time, Poliakov's 1951 Breviaire de la haine ("Harvest of Hate") was the first major work on the genocide, predating Raul Hilberg's Destruction of the European Jews by a decade. It received some good reviews in opposition to the prevailing opinion in studies at the time that a major genocide of six million Jews was logistically impossible and so could not have happened. Poliakov said in his Memoires that he refrained from even using the word genocide, which was considered unfit for publication in 1951 when his groundbreaking work was first published.