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.