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Avatar of BillBy on May 30th, 2012 at 8:26 am

President Obama Causes Outrage with Reference to ‘Polish Death Camp’

» by in: Politics-US

People whose ancestors grew up within 100 miles of the Vistula River are getting their pitchforks and torches handy.

Poles and Polish-Americans expressed outrage today at President Obama’s reference earlier to “a Polish death camp” — as opposed to a Nazi death camp in German-occupied Poland.

“The White House will apologize for this outrageous error,” Foreign Minister Radek Sikorski tweeted.  Sikorski said that Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk “will make a statement in the morning. It’s a pity that this important ceremony was upstaged by ignorance and incompetence.”

The president had been trying to honor a famous Pole, awarding a Presidential Medal of Freedom to Jan Karski, a resistance fighter who sneaked behind enemy lines to bear witness to the atrocities being committed against Jews. President Obama referred to him being smuggled “into the Warsaw ghetto and a Polish death camp to see for himself.”

Sikorski also tonight tweeted a link to an Economist story noting that “few things annoy Poles more than being blamed for the crimes committed by the Nazi occupiers of their homeland. For many years, Polish media, diplomats and politicians have tried to persuade outsiders to stop using the phrase ‘Polish death camps’ as a shorthand description of Auschwitz and other exemplars of Nazi brutality and mass murder.- ABC News Political Punch

I’ve  been to Auschwitz. In 2000 my wife and I were shown around Poland by a priest friend of ours and we visited the former Nazi concentration camp. It is the bleakest place I’ve ever been to.

History has long labeled Auschwitz a concentration camp and usually with the Nazi in front of those words. Only the history challenged would think of it as a Polish death camp. The Poles didn’t herd millions of people into places like Auschwitz and then exterminate most of them. It was the Germans.

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  • Jamie Bond
    9:37 am on May 30th, 2012 1

    President Obama can divert attention from this growing scandal for several days by inviting Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk to the Oval Office and asking him to pee in the corner.

  • a-letheia
    10:33 am on May 30th, 2012 2

    “It was the Germans.”

    Woo-wee! (shakes head) Ya sure do learn something new every day…. That there is some incisive analyses! I’ll bet Obama didn’t even know that… Gosh…

  • come on
    10:59 am on May 30th, 2012 3

    he clearly meant death camps in Poland , come on people are over reacting to this.

  • tbonetylr
    2:16 pm on May 30th, 2012 4

    How trivial can you get? The Pole obviously isn’t happy with the Obama administration for some reason…hmmm…money?

  • Dreamboat Annie
    2:50 pm on May 30th, 2012 5

    Well, maybe the Poles are being too sensitive about this but, considering how far Obama goes to apologize to muslims about anything and everything, the least he could do is throw his usual phony “I’m sorry” to Poland, too.

  • Retired GI
    3:27 pm on May 30th, 2012 6

    Obama “mis-speaks” quite often. I’m sure he KNEW it was the Germans, but he sometimes has trouble with the American english. But what do you expect from someone RAISED (not born), outside the USA.

    (OBAMA CALLS NAVY CORPSMEN, “Corpse-men”.) Most people raised in America would not make that mistake. However, his staff, did not correct him in either event.

    The Poles have every right to be pissed and demand he say he is sorry, yet again.

    And to think they called Bush stupid. At least he could speak english.

  • JoeC
    5:09 pm on May 30th, 2012 7

    That should supply the needed outrage in some media outlets for the next 2 weeks. :roll:

  • Leon LaPorte
    5:48 pm on May 30th, 2012 8

    6. I’ve heard active duty US soldiers say “Marine Corpse”. I’ve heard many native (born and raised) speakers say “corpse” instead of “core”. I can only assume they have never heard it spoken (or paid attention when it was). I’m guessing they read it somewhere and are mispronouncing it based on spelling. I’m also guessing that Mr. O gives a lot of speeches. I’m certain he was reading from one of his ubiquitous teleprompters and the robot brain took over and and he read it as written. I’m somewhat certain he has heard of the Marine Corps by now. He may not know what a Navy corpsman is. So what? Most presidents probably couldn’t tell you what a bosuns mate 3rd class, second bunk to the left (top) is either. English is a screwy language.

    As far as the Poles. Well, THEY were the ones leading cavalry charges against panzer tanks. :roll:

    /NOT defending Obama
    //Not a supporter
    ///Not a Romney supporter, either
    ////Wrong again, Ron Paul is a twit and an ass clown who has a few good ideas and a ton of VERY bad ideas
    /////I think I’ll vote for Steve Colbert

  • JoeC
    6:12 pm on May 30th, 2012 9

    Most speakers of English would probably say the semantic difference between “Polish Death Camps” and “German Death Camps in Poland” is not that great and easily slipped. But, understandably, Poles have a special sensitivity to it. Just as Koreans have a hypersensitivity to what others in the world may call the body of water between themselves and Japan.

    Men learn it’s not always easy to understand why a woman may be upset. Just say “sorry” and move on.

  • Leon LaPorte
    6:38 pm on May 30th, 2012 10

    It’s not like this is the first person or first instance of the Polish death camp issue. The President was referring to Nazi death camps operated in Poland. ….. No one but a moron would think that the Poles ran the death camps.

    Copy pasta is delicious, nutritious and informative:

    Non-Polish media and notable figures have been known to make references to the German-run extermination program in Nazi-occupied Poland such as the “Polish death/concentration/extermination camp”, “Polish Ghetto”, “Polish Holocaust”, “Nazi Poland”, and so on.

    An example of the controversy occurred when an April 30, 2004 CTV News report made reference to “the Polish camp in Treblinka”. The Polish embassy in Canada lodged a complaint with CTV. Robert Hurst of CTV, however, argued that the term “Polish” was used throughout North America in a geographical sense, and declined to issue a correction.

    In 2009 Zbigniew Osewski, grandson of a Stutthof prisoner, announced he was suing Axel Springer AG for calling Majdanek a ‘former Polish concentration camp’ in article from November 2008 published in German press “Die Welt”.

    Concerns about the use of the term Polish death camp led the Polish government to request that UNESCO change the official name of Auschwitz from “Auschwitz Concentration Camp” to “former Nazi German concentration camp Auschwitz-Birkenau” in order to make clearer that the concentration camp was built and operated by Nazi Germany. Previously, some media, including Der Spiegel in Germany, had called the camp “Polish”. The New York Times regularly refers to Auschwitz as Polish rather than German.

    So, this is not unique to Obamama. If you want to criticize him, criticize over something substantive. There’s plenty.

  • The Man
    7:36 pm on May 30th, 2012 11

    Are Polish sausages made from Polish people?

    Pigs should be outraged at this misrepresentation.

  • Retired GI
    7:39 pm on May 30th, 2012 12

    Men learn it’s not always easy to understand why a woman may be upset. Just say “sorry” and move on.

    Spontanious laughter erupted, a smile lingered. Thanks JoeC!

  • Leon LaPorte
    8:08 pm on May 30th, 2012 13

    11. *golf clap*

  • setnaffa
    8:40 pm on May 30th, 2012 14

    Carefully planned insults directed at US Allies seems to be the meat and potatoes of the Obama Administration’s “Smart Diplomacy”…

  • Leon LaPorte
    8:54 pm on May 30th, 2012 15

    “Carefully planned insults…”

    I think you are giving the politicos WAY too much credit. Carefully planned? You mean like Jabber-mouth Joe letting the gay married cat out of the bag before Obamamamama was ready (assuming he was ever going to do it)? After Loose Lips Biden dropped that bomb, there was no way for the administration to back peddle. Carefully planned?

  • setnaffa
    9:02 pm on May 30th, 2012 16

    We have been told time and again that Obama is so much smarter than the “cowboy” he replaced… :mrgreen: :mrgreen: :mrgreen:

    And frankly, the choice of recipients was carefully planned. One assumes the speeches were written ahead of time.

  • Conway Eastwood
    1:41 am on May 31st, 2012 17

    Move over, Bushisms! Here comes the Obamaisms!

  • Seoul Guy
    2:00 am on May 31st, 2012 18

    I hope Americans vote Romney, so U.S. Gov. would spend more on defense and bring additional GIs on the Korean Peninsula to revive the Villes for unemployed visiting foreign ladies and Korean ajummas. I think USFK Command should also go easy on the restrictions off base for the young GIs.

    U.S. should have additional Carrier in N.E. Asia. How about Jinhae, Korea as a home port of call? or Jeju Island? Would do great for the local economy – seriously.

    Go Republicans !! Why would you want to spend precious U.S. taxpayers money for alternative life styled-people, welfare mothers, and liberal do gooders. (I’m not being sarcastic) ;-) Cut the budget for Social Security and increase your Defense appropriations.

  • Avatar of GI KoreaGI Korea
    11:25 am on May 31st, 2012 19

    I think this is just much to do about nothing. The President misspoke and I would assume would issue some statement saying so. It is interesting though to watch the differing reactions compared to if former President Bush had done this.

  • kushibo
    11:33 am on May 31st, 2012 20

    For many years, Polish media, diplomats and politicians have tried to persuade outsiders to stop using the phrase ‘Polish death camps’ as a shorthand description of Auschwitz and other exemplars of Nazi brutality and mass murder.

    Huh? So Obama didn’t misspeak, but was following what a bunch of other people did?

    As someone (JoeC?) mentioned above, saying “into the Warsaw ghetto and a Nazi death camp in Poland to see for himself” was probably a bit too wordy.

    If the Poles are sensitive about it, it’s understandable, and maybe Obama should offer a kind word in which he acknowledges their pain.

    Of course, then we can jump all over him for apologizing all the time.

  • kushibo
    11:34 am on May 31st, 2012 21

    It is interesting though to watch the differing reactions compared to if former President Bush had done this.

    What are/would be the differing reactions?

    What is a comparable thing that Bush did?

  • Dreamboat Annie
    3:02 pm on May 31st, 2012 22

    20- Let’s be clear. This is about Obama apologizing for a gaffe he did. He should step up and apologize. When Obama apologizes on behalf of the country, especially to his beloved muslims, because someone’s feelings are hurt well, that’s when he’s wrong.

  • Teadrinker
    3:50 pm on May 31st, 2012 23

    #6,
    Actually, corpse and corps come from the same French word.

    In any case, yes he was making a geographic reference, not one of ownership. Nevertheless, the Polish government is over-reacting because it wants to erase from our collective consciousness the sad fact that there were Polish Nazi sympathizers (for example, local villagers rounded up the hundreds of prisoners/victims who escaped from Treblinka in 1943).

  • kushibo
    5:07 pm on May 31st, 2012 24

    Teadrinker wrote:

    Nevertheless, the Polish government is over-reacting because it wants to erase from our collective consciousness the sad fact that there were Polish Nazi sympathizers (for example, local villagers rounded up the hundreds of prisoners/victims who escaped from Treblinka in 1943).

    Polish Nazi sympathizers or Polish collaborators? The former is an ideological tie, the latter is someone trying to survive. The former exists on its own, the latter only comes into existence if the country is occupied.

    At any rate, it is ultimately Nazi Germany that is responsible for this, not the Poles. Regardless of any small-scale Polish participation, would the death camps or ghettos have existed without the Nazis? I apply the same argument to atrocities committed within Imperial Japan.

  • kushibo
    5:16 pm on May 31st, 2012 25

    “into the Warsaw ghetto and a Polish death camp”

    I don’t think this is really a gaffe. It is a reasonably symmetrical wording that is apparently used somewhat often (judging by the fact that “diplomats and politicians have tried to persuade outsiders to stop using the phrase ‘Polish death camps’ as a shorthand description of Auschwitz and other exemplars of Nazi brutality and mass murder).

    … Warsaw ghetto and a Polish death camp… the death camp is no more the work of the Poles than the ghetto is the work of Warsawites. “Warsaw ghetto” is okay as location plus description, so why not “Polish death camp” for a death camp in Poland, which everyone listening knows was run by the Nazis.

    Yes, it’s Polish sensitivity, and maybe it’s reasonable. Obama knows now and he’s apologizing if offense was made. I don’t see what the problem is here.

    Bush’s gaffes were more entertaining than anything else (“Too many OB-GYNs aren’t able to practise their love with women all across this country”) rather than goofily offensive (like asking the Brazilian leader if they have Blacks too). Except for “Mission Accomplished.” ;-)

  • Jamie Bond
    10:02 pm on May 31st, 2012 26

    Don’t expect Obama to know the difference between Polish and German. He doesn’t even know the difference between mulatto and black.

 

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