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  • Faithful to my Homeland, the Republic of Poland

     

  • AGAINST "POLISH CAMPS"

  • August 23: The embassy successfully responded to an article about Jan Karski, “The spy who broke into Polish ghettos,” which appeared on 20 August on the Daily Beast, a news website. Following our intervention, the editors changed the title to “The Polish spy in the Warsaw ghetto.”

     

    August 23: Associated Press published a story entitled, "National Gallery returns drawing to heir of Holocaust victim" in which vague language is used to describe World War II era German Nazi Camps in occupied Poland. Our Embassy promptly sent a letter to the Associated Press, which resulted in the AP issuing a clarification which states:

     

    In a story Aug. 18, The Associated Press reported that the National Gallery of Art was returning a drawing to the heirs of a woman forced to sell it before she was deported to a concentration camp in Poland. The story should have made clear that the concentration camp was run by Nazi Germany, which had occupied Poland at the time. Link

     

    July 29: Another incorrect expression appeared on the US government’s Voice of America website, in an article titled “Pope Makes Silent Pilgrimage to Auschwitz.” After our Embassy contacted VoA, the phrase “Polish death camp Auschwitz-Birkenau” was immediately corrected to “former German Nazi death camp Auschwitz-Birkenau in Poland.” Our Embassy additionally requested the editorial team to include a ban on defective memory codes in its house style guide. Link

     

    July 28: Our Embassy intervened with Catholic News Service (CNS), the world’s largest Catholic news agency, which had used the phrase “Poland's Auschwitz concentration camp.” After our Embassy protested against the misleading phrase on Twitter, the editors promptly changed the phrase to the “former Nazi concentration camp of Auschwitz in Poland.” Our Embassy’s quick action prevented the defective memory code from being spread by other media that rely on CNS. Link

     

    July 17: Our Embassy found another instance of the defective code of memory in the article “Beyond Anne Frank: The Dutch Tell Their Full Holocaust Story” in The New York Times. Following our embassy’s intervention, the misleading phrase “Sobibor death camp in Poland” was changed for “Sobibor death camp in Nazi-occupied Poland” in the article’s digital version.  Link

     

    July 9: The Daily Beast news website published an article titled “Touring Auschwitz the Week after Elie Wiesel’s Death,” which featured the phrase “Polish concentration camp.” After our embassy intervened on Twitter, the phrase was amended to read “concentration camp in Nazi-occupied Poland.” Link

     

     

    Against Polish Death/Concentration Camps: A How-To Guide

     

     Since 2004 the Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs has been leading the Against "Polish Camps" Campaign. Our Embassy has taken an active role in this campaign, reacting to offensive and false public statements about “Polish concentration camps/Polish death camps” appearing in the press. Our Embassy regularly monitors American media reports and, when necessary, intervenes, demanding corrections and the use of the proper expression:

     

    “German Nazi concentration/extermination camp in occupied Poland
    or
    “Nazi concentration camp/extermination camp in the territory of German-occupied Poland”

     

    We react whenever we see such slurs. We need you to do the same.

     

    We'll use excerpts from actual articles to guide you through the process step-by-step.

     


    We’ll begin with this sentence:

    John Demjanjuk has been convicted of aiding the Nazis in the murder of at least 28,000 Jews at the Sobibor Polish death camp during World War II.

     


    I. Check the comments section. Has anyone reacted there to the phrase? If not, do so right away, so that readers see your correction right away. Remember that your comment should include a request / demand for correction.

    Example: Calling Sobibor a “Polish death camp" is factually incorrect. There were no Polish death camps. There were German Nazi death camps. Please correct this error immediately.


    II. Gather your information and facts: Article publication, title, author, and phrase. Also gather information on why the particular phrase used is incorrect. You can also include some historical context, such as:

    Example: Calling Sobibor "Polish" is incorrect for two reasons: The camps were set up and run by Nazi Germany, not Poland. It is also unacceptable to use the word "Polish" as a geographical descriptor because there was no Polish state at the time the camps existed. The territory on which the camps were located had been invaded and remained occupied by Nazi Germany throughout the entirety of the camps' operation.


    III. Research who to write to. Each publication will differ, but there'll generally be an email address and /or phone number to the editor.

     


    IV. Write your letter. Include any and all relevant facts. Be firm. And tell the editor or journalist exactly what you'd like to see done:

    I would appreciate the immediate removal of the phrase "Sobibor Polish death camp" online and wherever else it may appear.


    V. Remind the publication that the New York Times recently updated its styleguide. You can include the actual entry:

    "Given the sensitivity of this topic, take extra care in historical references to the Nazi concentration camps of World War II. For camps in countries occupied by Nazi Germany, avoid ambiguous or misleading phrases like 'Polish concentration camp' or 'Polish death camp,' which could give the mistaken impression that the camps were run by Poland." 


    VI. Send your email. Encourage others to do the same. Post links on Facebook; tweet about it. Tell us about the article and what you’ve done: washington.press@msz.gov.pl

     


    VII. Check back within a day to see whether the phrase has been updated. If not, send another email, make another phone call.

     


    Other phrases that have been published

     

    As unthinkable as these may seem, they’ve all been published:

     

     

    "Sobibor camp, located in Poland" 

    The camps were not located in Poland, they were located in German-occupied Poland. That's a very important distinction, because the camps were not on Polish soil because Poles and the Polish government wanted them to be. They were there because Germany occupied Poland at the onset of World War II and set up their camps there to carry out their murderous plans on Jews, Poles, and anyone who opposed them.

    Poles fought the Nazi invasion from day one of World War II until its very end, and paid an enormous price with the loss of six million human lives and massive destruction of the country.

     

    "Polish Nazi"

    There were German Nazis. There were not Polish Nazis. Poland never collaborated with Nazi Germany.
     

    "Polish concentration camp survivor"

    Media publications may explain that they mean this phrase to describe the survivor's nationality. Unfortunately, this phrase then conveys that someone survived a Polish concentration camp, which, of course, is impossible since Polish concentration camps did not exist.

    Explain that there are more precise ways of phrasing these words to ensure clear historical accuracy. For example, "Polish survivors of a German concentration camp."



    Why is it important that you also react when we always do so?

     

     

    Because it's important for media to hear these reactions from as many voices as possible, and for them to know that we’re all paying attention. And it’s important because people have started to forget: We cannot let that happen. And we cannot allow history to be distorted.

     

     

     

    More information to use when writing to media outlets

    Anti-Defamation League

    “The Anti-Defamation League has expressed full support for the efforts of the government of Poland to ensure that the official names of the death camps in Poland emphasize that the camps were built and operated by Nazi Germany."

    “For example, in 2006 the League wrote to the directorgeneral of UNESCO to ensure that the official name of the Auschwitz death camp, as recorded on UNESCO’s world heritage site registry, emphasizes that the camp was German and run by the Nazis."

    “As an agency which prioritizes remembrance of the Holocaust, we share Poland’s concerns over the frequent description of the camps as ‘Polish.'"

    “Such a description implies that the camps were built in the name of the Polish people. This is manifestly not the truth.”- Todd Gutnick, the ADL's Director of Media Relations and Public Information:

     

    Excerpted from:
    Jerusalem Post, 5/16/11, "Warsaw stresses: Death camps in Poland were German"

    * * *


    U.S. Helsinki Commission

    “It is an historical error when news agencies reporting about the Auschwitz concentration camp in Nazi German-occupied Poland call it a ‘Polish concentration camp." - Rep. Chris Smith, Chairman of the U.S. Helsinki Commission

    Excerpted from:
     

    Press Release, July 29, 2011 - U.S. HELSINKI COMMISSION WELCOMES RECOGNITION OF ROMANI VICTIMS OF NAZI GENOCIDE; URGES OTHER EUROPEAN NATIONS TO ACT



    Photos of the Auschwitz-Birkenau German Nazi Concentration and Extermination Camp:

     

    1. The infamous entrance sign reads: "ARBEIT MACHT FREI" - "Work will set you free." Photo by Muu-karhu
    2. The main entrance gate. Photo by Michel Zacharz

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