NEW YORK – The consul-general of Poland in New York sent a letter to media
organizations on Friday, in the wake of John Demjanjuk’s conviction, to tell the
organizations not to describe the Nazi’s Sobibor extermination camp as a “Polish
death camp.”RELATED:Lawyer to Germany: Put Demjanjuk up in a nursing homeJohn Demjanjuk convicted then freed by German court
Such an appellation offends “millions of Polish people here
in the United States and around the world,” Consul-General Ewa Junczyk-Ziomecka
The Ukraine-born John Demjanjuk was convicted in Munich on
Thursday of complicity in the murder of more than 28,000 Jews while serving at
Sobibor in German-occupied Poland.
“As inadequate and late in coming as
today’s verdict is, it satisfies our common desire for justice to be meted out.
However, I am unhappy with the insensitivity of those media outlets which, once
again, have managed to offend millions of Polish people here in the United
States and around the world, by repeating in their news reports the slanderous
phrase ‘Polish death camp,’ while describing the Nazi death camp of Sobibor,”
“Simply and unambiguously, there were no Polish concentration
or death camps during WWII. All those terrible places of profound human tragedy
were built, operated and administered by the German Nazis. The only death camps
were German Nazi death camps, some of which were located in German-occupied
All references to Poland during the war should be said as ‘Nazi
German-occupied Poland,’” Junczyk-Ziomecka said.
“The consul-general is
expressing understandable frustration with an unfortunate practice,” David
Marwell, director of the Museum of Jewish Heritage Museum in New York, which
focuses on the Holocaust, said.
“Although the phrase ‘Polish Death Camp’
may simply be shorthand to describe location, there are many who wrongly
conflate the geography of the camps with those who ran them. When it comes to
such important issues, absolute clarity and accuracy are
Representatives of the Anti- Defamation League in New York
“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,” Todd Gutnick, the ADL’s director of media relations and public
“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,’” Gutnick said.
description implies that the camps were built in the name of the Polish
people. This is manifestly not the truth.”