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Sorry, Poland

Under the Nazis Poland became a prison where the Germans created their ‘largest camps of annihilation’


 

And suddenly there we were in the midst of another international controversy. We have grown used to this sort of thing here at Maclean’s, whose editor once said, “If you don’t think you’ve gone too far, you haven’t gone far enough.” This can be a pretty rock ’n’ roll place to work. But just this once, the uproar wasn’t one we meant to cause. It’s worth the tale. Here’s the tale.

In our issue of Nov. 16, “Our Biggest Ever” university issue, we carried a long, thoughtful feature by Katie Engelhart about the imminent trial in Munich of John Demjanjuk, who is “charged with 27,900 counts of accessory to murder for his role as a guard at the Sobibor death camp in Nazi-occupied Poland.” Without in any way making excuses for atrocity, Katie’s four-page article managed to air some of the discomfort with trying Demjanjuk, who is 89, visibly feeble, and was not a senior figure in the Nazi mass-murder apparatus in the first place. Sensitive stuff, but Katie is a very good young reporter and that’s not where the trouble lay.

No, the trouble was in three phrases I didn’t even notice when I read the article. Engelhart wrote that Demjanjuk had been mistaken for “a notorious sadist at Poland’s Treblinka death camp.” She refers again to “Poland’s Treblinka death camp,” and notes that Demjanjuk, who was Ukrainian, “served at three Polish camps.” Well, did we ever hear from the Polish Embassy and Polish Canadians after that. The comments under the story when we published it online were furious. The letters were angrier. “This is not acceptable that you spread absurdity that slanders Poland and Polish citizens!!!!” one letter began, under the subject line PROTEST AGAINST YOUR LIE. Almost simultaneously I received a plaintive email from my friend Sylwia Domisiewicz, the press and protocol officer at the Polish Embassy in Ottawa. “I just got bombarded by emails and phone calls from the Polish-Canadian community,” she wrote. We would be getting a letter from the ambassador, she said. To whom should they send it?

I forwarded Sylwia’s email to our senior executive editor, Peeter Kopvillem, who knows a thing or two about murderous foreign occupations, being Estonian. This kicked off a correspondence between Maclean’s and the embassy, and the letter from the ambassador appears elsewhere in these pages. But I’m spending more time on this issue because it is an example of the insistent demands of horrible memory.

If you go to the Polish Foreign Ministry’s website today and pull down the menu under the “Foreign Policy” tab, the first issue listed—ahead of “Asia and Pacific Region” and Poland’s “Eastern Partnership” with the countries of the former Soviet Union—is “Against ‘Polish Camps.’ ” Follow that link and you’ll find a list of erroneous references to the offending phrase in the news media of 24 different countries; more than a dozen corrections and press-council judgments sought by Polish authorities in several of those countries; and excerpts from the 2005 annual address to Poland’s parliament by the country’s then-foreign minister, Adam Rotfeld. “I believe the time is ripe, 60 years after the end of the war, for the elementary truth about what really happened in occupied Poland” to come to light, Rotfeld told his colleagues. “It was in Polish territories that the Germans created the largest camps of annihilation, where—alongside the Jewish people—Poles and members of other European nations were murdered on a mass scale.”

In that context, Rotfeld said, “use of the term ‘Polish death camps’ . . . not only conceals the truth about the perpetrators of that crime, but slanders our nation, which was the first victim of the criminal practices of Nazi Germany.”

I called the ambassador, Piotr Ogrodzinski, who is leaving Ottawa this week after five extraordinarily productive years here. During that time he successfully urged Canada to remove visa restrictions on visitors from Poland, strengthened military and economic co-operation between our two countries, and wrote perhaps 30 letters of complaint to news outlets that had not made the Nazi origin of the death camps clear.

Poland has hardly been innocent of anti-Semitism, Ogrodzinski told me. “It is a fact that there was a very strong anti-Semitism in the interwar period and it continued during the [Second World] war,” he said. But the camps were a different story. “It’s absolutely false that Poles had anything to do with concentration camps, with the exception that they were the first prisoners.”

The war began, of course, when Hitler invaded Poland on Sept. 1, 1939. The brave Polish army was shattered. The country’s hell was compounded on Sept. 17 when Stalin’s armies invaded from the east, in fulfillment of the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact. The entire country was a prison after that. The Nazi penalty for protecting Jews was death for the protector’s entire family. David Harris, executive director of the American Jewish Committee, has written that the camps “were most emphatically not ‘Polish camps.’ This is not a mere semantic matter.”

Ogrodzinski’s father was a key organizer in Zegota, Poland’s wartime clandestine Council for Aid to Jews; a photograph of Przemyslow Ogrodzinski hangs in the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington. He knows our choice of words meant no harm. I asked whether he’s visited Canada’s Rocky Mountains, then reminded him that Canada had no choice in the location of the Rockies. But the Rockies are a treasure, not an abomination. Imagine a consummate evil being committed in your home by invaders. You would wish the world knew it wasn’t your choice. You wouldn’t ever stop wishing it.


 

Sorry, Poland

  1. Why were some of the largest and most infamous death camps in Poland? It was simply that Poland had the largest concentration of European Jewry, right?
    I only had the stomach to visit one camp – Sachsenhausen, when i lived in Berlin. I remember it was a beautiful day…i never want to do it again, Most of the crematorium is gone or in ruins. I remember thinking there wasn't so much to see until i went into the buidings housing the "clinic". The Germans in their usual thorough way had staff there to provide info and so on. Unfortunately for some unknown reason they had white doctors smocks on You can Imagine my reaction…they meant no harm and i was overwrought, but my immediate reaction was: "oh God it's a renactment". I almost didn't make it in the door…it was well i did…someone had placed a single poppy in the monstrous sink…it was the final nudge i needed to finally break down. A heart breaking gesture of respect from the living to the dead.

    • "Why were some of the largest and most infamous death camps in Poland?"

      That's a very good question. Some thoughts : Partially to hide what was going on from the German people. Partially to be able to slander the Poles with what the Nazis were doing – that's why the Poles are so sensitive to the issue, among other reasons. Partially because the Nazis were telling people that the Jews were being 'resettled' further to the east in order to make them more compliant, so they had to keep the lie going. There is also the question of criminal activity and extraterritoriality, but that was obviously overcome by the Nuremburg Trials.

      • 'Partially to hide what was going on from the German people"

        I'm not sure this holds up…not entirely anyway. In Sachsenhausen they have an extremely interesting wall map of all the locations of German camps [ in Germany] If i remember correctly there were over 300 of them. It was quite shocking really. They weren't all death camps, so your point probably is still right…but still it did a lot to underscore the old lie that the German's didn't know what was going on…they just didn't want to.
        To give credit where credit is due. Germany has done a good job of telling their part in the Natzi horror on the whole, although i believe many older Germans are still in denial…i probably would be too.

    • "I only had the stomach to visit one camp"

      I went to Auschwitz and it was easily the most emotionally discombobulating experience I ever had. I entirely understand being overwrought.

  2. Is there anyone who does think that the death-camps were a creation of Poland? Regardless, there is a lingering collective guilt that hangs around this: some small number of Poles did actively participate in the whole ghastly business, just as some Ukrainians and others did. This is not to say that "Poland" is somehow guilty of the death-camps any more than Ukraine or Hungary was, but by the same token it makes not much more sense to say that "Poland" is innocent in some way.

    I find their defense of this position as irrational as the Canadian government's apologies for past sins.

    • By that criteria, none of us are innocent, not even us Canadians. You may find the reaction irrational, but then, you're not Polish. You don't have hundreds of thousands of people visiting your country every year to tour the death camps, unconscious of the number of Poles who were murdered defending their territory against both the Nazis and the Communists, just for a start. I could go on, but I think you get the idea.

      • I think there is a difference between identifying and accepting that some Poles were guilty, and a general statement about whether "Poland" was or was not guilty.

        There is something very tribal about the way we slide from one to another. It is perfectly understandable but not rational. When I was young, I lived in Israel for a year. Whenever I confessed my nationality (British at the time), I was then sucked into a series of absurd discussions about what the British government did or did not do back in the day, and was asked to defend/justify/atone for the acts of my (mostly dead) countrymen.

        I thought it was irrational and still do. I am not guilty of what happened, Great Britain was not guilty in a collective way, but some very specific Britons were guilty.

        • You are missing the point entirely by keep repeating that "Poland" was or was not guilty. This is akin to antisemites saying Jews were somewhat responsible for what happened to them. The issue is: why would you call German concentration camp Polish? Note that in politically correct speak those camps are not even German nowadays. Who the hell were these Nazis? Aliens?

    • I find their defense of this position as irrational as the Canadian government's apologies for past sins.

      It seems perfectly rational to me, in both instances.

    • Can you seriously not see the difference in significance between these two sentences:

      A. "Millions of Jews were killed in Polish death camps"

      B. "Millions of Jews were killed in Nazi death camps located in occupied Poland."

      Especially if the person reading that sentence is say a 14 year old encountering the history of the Holocaust for the first time?

      • Is that actually happening? In any event, there is a big difference between a school textbook, and a statement, made in context, that short-cuts the description to "Poland's death camps".

  3. Can a section 13 complaint against Macleans for possibly offending Poles be long in arriving?

    • Oh, actually I think it probably can be very long in arriving indeed.

  4. Most of the boarder countries had large populations of former Prussians including new Poland. These land owners wanted the displacement of the Jewish people, Slavs, Gypsies, and other lesser non-German speaking people. After 100's of years of wars, they wanted the boarders prior to WW I. Poland being the buffer between the Russians coming out of their revolution to eliminate the nobility may have been very frighting. France on the other boarder had also eliminated the nobility. Expansionism was the answer.

  5. I didn't notice that when I read the article either, probably because it's such common knowledge that the camps were set up by the Germans in occupied Poland.

    But perhaps that's the problem – it may not be common knowledge. I've met people who'd never heard of the Normandy invasion, so I suppose it's possible they'd never heard of the German occupation of Poland and the Poles' role as resistors and victims in that saga.

    The Poles are my personal heroes. They stand, in my view, as the true heroes of the 20th century. They suffered more than any other nation and they never acquiesced despite decades of brutal occupation by either Nazis or Communists. Not only did they not acquiesce, they managed to lead the way in resistance both against the Nazis (fighting to the death in the sewers of Warsaw, volunteering squadrons of pilots for the Battle of Britain, breaking the Enigma codes, etc.) and against the Communists (Karol Wojtyla – JP2, Lech Walesa).

    Given all this, I can appreciate why they'd be offended by calling the camps "Polish". They were no more "Polish" than the Malmedy Massacre was "American".

    • Good points. I'll add a mention of Poland sending soldiers to the dangerous regions in Afghanistahn to help with the dirty work. Not many other countries did this.

      You don't have to look very hard to find anti-Semitism in Europe or North America in the first half of the 20th century. Sure it existed in Poland, but it existed everywhere where Jews lived.

      Poland has the disadvantage of being a geographic & cultural buffer zone between eastern & western Europe, so they often end up on the losing end of larger countries's issues.

    • "The Poles are my personal heroes. They stand, in my view, as the true heroes of the 20th century."

      That makes at least two of us, totally agreed.

      • Respectfully disagree. The Poles were tough fighters in the strategically worst real estate in Europe but they were as anti-semitic as the Germans and arguably today the average Pole is much more anti-semitic than your average german..
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fear_-_Anti-Semitism

        Generally the Jews' murder was the one thing many poles thought was a silver lining to what happened to their country in WWII.

        • Were Polish Jews also anti-semitic? Just wondering…..since we're making blanket statements and all

        • They fought heroically nonetheless. Anti-Semitism was not exactly unknown in Europe then or now and Poland was no exception. That is not in any way to excuse anti-Semitism, whether by Poles or others.

        • I wonder if you can really say that ‘many Poles thought Jews’ murder was a silver lining’, when I have heard and read many, many accounts of Polish citizens harboring Jewish fugitives. Risking their lives for it, and the lives of their entire families, because the Nazi punishment for ANY help to Jews was a death sentence to the perpetrator and their entire family.

  6. Europe; the more it changes the more it remains the same.

    If one wanted to be truly provocateur then one would write about how it is the Germans who are the victims here. It doesn't matter how much the Allied Nations has destroyed the Germans' ambitions and weeded out their brave gene, the other European nations will never let them live down the year an Austrian Jew high jacked their country and went power crazy on a French holiday.

    I'm sorry Poland, but the things you do out of fear are still your responsibility. If the Germans have to live up the consequences of what a Jewish Austrian did with their country, then the Polish can take a little bit of responsibility for what the Nazis and the Soviets did with theirs.

    Then said provocateur would get a miriad of mail from Jewish individuals everywhere claiming "WWII was not our fault!"… obviously not getting the moral of the story.

    I think it's time everybody shakes hands and admit they may have had a little too much wine.

  7. I think it's plain to see that the word "Polish" can sometimes refer to the meaning "located in Poland". This is simply a matter of semantics. I'm not a fan of debates about semantics, I find them to be a waste of time. But clearly, it matters a great deal to some people.

    A says X
    B says you can't say X, that it means Y which is wrong
    A says you can say X cuz it means Z, which is not Y
    A and B agree that they actually agreed all along

    I really don't think anyone associates the death camps with the Polish people, except as victims.

    • During the War of 1812, invading American troops massacred the Munsee Indians near Kitchener. We would be rightly incensed if this was referred to as a "Canadian massacre" just because it happened on Canadian territory.

      No one who knows the history of WW2 would associate the death camps with the Polish people. Unfortunately many people are woefully ignorant of history and would take the wrong impression from the label "Polish camps".

  8. It should be clear that MacLean's needs to apologise without qualification for its unintentional but unfortunate error. The world correctly remembers the WWII death camps as NAZI death camps regardless of their actual location. One should understand Polish sensitivity to WWII history. For instance, they are also sensitive about the NAZI terror bombing of their capital in 1939. Hailing from Rotterdam, I have no difficulty with that.

  9. A 1987 Maclean's cover story ("The Nazi Hunt") included profiles of the John Demjanjuk case by John Barber and Madelaine Drohan. Both writers assumed that Demjanjuk was guilty as charged, was indeed "Ivan the Terrible" of Treblinka infamy that his accusers claimed — and wrote up their articles with that erroneous assumption as a given. After the Israeli Supreme Court had ruled that Demjanjuk was not Ivan in 1993 — KGB files from archives fortuitously made public following the dramatic collapse of the USSR having apparently identified the real "Ivan" — Maclean's merely shrugged off its libel of John Demjanjuk as being of absolutely no account. Why not apologize to Demjanjuk, too — while you're at it — a man toward whom Maclean's did not extend the presumption of innocence or any consideration of due process?

  10. I just want to make it very clear that besides the Jewish people being a target for Hitler and his nazis, the Catholic Church was too.our people and future priests/seminarians/ sisters where killed..
    Remember Maximilian Kolbe….now a Saint…
    The Great Pontiff JPII knew who they were (the enemy) and worked in a quarry and supported and led the youth in the Underground Church…– the Poles are an outstanding gift to Humanity.. I wish we had more Polish Leaders like the Great JPII and Lech Walesa in a world that is aniliating itself through greed and self absorption.
    We desperately need men who can lead.. (no offense to women)

    Coming from the UK and seeing the remains of my own country and lack of necessities for many a year (Scotland)
    I agree with the statement:
    "Underground movements and constant rebellions showed the might of the Polish people and their refusal to be oppressed.
    People here who have never been affected by war, continental war…cannot appreciate such history…"

    • Right on, maryj.

  11. Google Posen speeches. I think a diligent person can find out plenty about as I have recently. Text books leave out far to much of history. This will give a good overview of Poland's occupation.

    "The Posen speeches were two secret speeches made by Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler on October 4 and 6, 1943 in the town hall of Posen (Polish: Poznań), in Nazi occupied Poland. The recordings are the first known documents in which a high-ranking member of the Nazi government openly spoke of the on-going destruction of the Jews. They demonstrate that the Nazi government wanted, planned and carried out the Holocaust."……Thank you Wikipedia

    Historical dictionary of Poland, 966-1945
    By Jerzy Jan Lerski, Piotr Wróbel, Richard J. Kozicki

    http://books.google.ca/books?id=FPxhOu_n1VYC&…

    I could leave you with some graphic pictures before getting too weepy over the poor Nazis from Orange-papers.org, but I won't.

  12. Looks like this one slipped past the copy desk. Like Wells, I missed the significance of the reference, which was probably done innocently enough to tighten up the sentence. That's usually a good idea, but in this case it didn't work. I read the story, but was more interested in the Demjanjuk story, which finally somebody covered without the veil of political correctness. It's interesting that Demjanjuk got a fair trial in Israel, but couldn't get a fair shake in his adopted country of the United States. Contrast that with people like Werhner von Braun, who built V2 rockets for the Nazis using slave labour from concentration camps, but could move to the U.S. after the war to help with that country's space program. Von Braun had been a member of the SS, but got a pass because he was useful to the U.S. during the Cold War. The evidence against Demjanjuk is far from conclusive, yet he has been stripped of U.S. citizenship and shipped off to Germany, which belatedly has decided to prosecute him.

  13. Many of us are quick to go straight to conclusion and judge Demjanjuk for what he's accused of. What happened to the presumption of innocence ?

    Clearly, Demjanjuks's "investigators" from OSS in Washington had only one thing in mind: to put him in jail (That's not my opinion – that's the ruling of US Special Judge Thomas Wiseman).

    To blame Poles for somehow aiding Germans in concentration camps can come from only people who never experienced war and only saw it on TV – typical North American crowd. What would you do if Germans put a gun to your head and give you an order – please don't fool yourself.

    More Ukrainians died in WW2 than ANY other nation on the planet (including jews). Therefore, Demjanjuk trial is quite ironic.

  14. Following the article on Demjaniuk with the unfortunate phrasing of "Poland's Treblinka death camp" (against which I, among others, proetsted) it is right and fitting that the above article "Sorry Poland" appeared and I commend the author as well as the editorial board of Macleans for standing up to tell the truth. While many people who know the real history of WWII in Europe, think that it is common knowledge, in reality many more people have no idea. Phrases such a s "Polish concentration camps" or the quoted "Poland's Treblinka death camp" make it look to those who do not know, as though Poles were the perpetrators of the Holocaust. Such unfortunate expressins have become very common and one should understand Poles' special sensitivity to this issue. While , as in every nation, there were anti-Semites in Poland, at the same time Poland has by far the biggest number of Righteous Among Nations whose heroism can never be underestimated, given that to help a Jew in occupied Poland was punishable by death to the entire family.

  15. Because of the German-Soviet Treaty to divide Poland among themselves, the Eastern half of Poland was under Soviet, not German, rule from September, 1939 to mid-1941. During that time, there were many Jewish people who collaborated with the Soviet terror apparatus against the conquered Polish state. Among the many eyewitnesses to those events is the famed Polish courier Jan Karski, who was made an honorary citizen of Israel for his efforts to warn an unresponsive West about the fate of Poland and Polish Jewry. In February 1940, Karski reported: "Jews are denouncing Poles to the secret police and are directing the work of the communist militia from behind the scenes… Unfortunately, one must say that these incidents are very frequent." (Report to the Polish Government-in-Exile in London.)

    • A decade ago, Barbara Amiel wrote ("Jews and Sunshine," Maclean's, September 27, 1999): "Indeed, we [Jews] were at the leading edge of communist totalitarianism, one of the most murderous movements of the 20th century."

  16. From September 1939 until 1944, Poland was occupied either partly or entirely by Nazi Germany and its armed forces. Poland has never built any concentration camps on its territory or others. Moreover, Poland suffered heavily from Nazi brutality and cruelty. Six million Polish citizens perished during Nazi rule in my country. All concentration camps, where people from many nations were imprisoned, were built and organized by the German-Nazi occupiers on Polish land. Never by Poland. That’s why I want to express my strong protest at the false expression “Polish concentration camps” in your newspaper. The real “founders” of Auschwitz and other concentration camps were the German-Nazis.

    • Sorry Mr. Noras, but you are wrong. Poland built a concentration camp well before Hitler ever dreamt of such things. Or have you never heard of the camp at Bereza Kartuzka? Of course Poland took their example from Canada which had concentration camps when Adolf was still a Corporal. And Canada was following the example of Britain and the USA…

  17. There have been too many of these “slip-ups” in the Western media to still believe that they are just some innocent, random errors. Once, twice – fine, but this is constant and repetitious. The writers are usually well educated and can't be possibly all this ignorant. It is hard not to notice that there is this seemingly desperate effort to find something wrong with the naturally freedom loving and courageous Poles. Recently, there were even instances of calling Polish WW2 patriots “fascists.” In each case, the aim is to tarnish the good name of Poland and Poles, especially during WW2. The question is: who is behind this and why? Could it be a pre-emptive effort to divert attention from the enormous crimes and destruction perpetrated upon Poland and ethnic Poles in the Soviet occupied zone, and later in the so called People's Republic of Poland? To find the answers one should dig deeper and research that era carefully. For example, who ruled in Poland during and after the war, under the Soviet occupation, and especially during the brutal first ten years after the war? It will be surprising to some what one will find. But the real answers are unlikely to come from the established media.

  18. This is ridiculous.
    Anyone that's taken Grade 10 History – and that is everyone – knows that Poland was not responisble for the setting up of concentration camps; in fact there was no Polish governement at the time! Further, many of the polish elite were sent to such camps to ensure there would be no opposition to their creation by the German Nazi Govt.
    I know of no one who thinks Poland is responsible for the concentration camps that eventually ended up killing millions of Jews.
    When Macleans publishes an article, they have to assume their audience is sufficiently learned to know the text's background or context. Otherwise, half the story would be spent teaching people things that our school system should have already taught them.

  19. I was shocked when I read that article. I am not Polish but I was still taken aback by the language used. I would certainly not want some atrocity attributed to Canada that someone else had created. Thanks for addressing this.

  20. Even more of the same can be said of the French and the Belgians and the Czech and the Slovak, and etc. Even people in non-European country, non-participant in the war, were affected by the war. Almost everyone in this world had, at least, their freedom reduced and their livelihood compromised by this war.

    So after 60 when everyone should get over it, Poland wants to talk even more about it? These arguments about who lost the most and who's entitled to what as a result is plainly ridiculous.

    I should know, I'm french canadian and I was robbed of my country by the Red Coats.

    • Your telling me people should "Get over" WWII? For the sake of our generations we should not ever get over it, as humanity itself needs to understand what happened, and what happened in reality not written by some mid-20 grad who never had any experience with the war but a Saving Private Ryan movie.
      Maybe we should get over it and stop acknowledging our vets? With that mentality…whether it was the people or the soldiers that lost their lives its important to pay respects. When these articles or the people of those nations read them and feel the pain of their families you can imagine they want to make it right. If your gonna write something for millions of people to see, get it right. Thats all.
      Why do we still talk about the civil rights movement? WWI? the Cold War? Because its history and we learn from our mistakes and those of our fathers, it has to be remembered. It was a war like you said affected more countries than any other war.
      Polish people and other nations aren't simply trying to argue who lost most or is entitled to what…they want to get it right. Think of Katyn and the 30, 000 Polish officers that were executed by the Soviets, they still blame the Nazis and deny that but records show different. With history facts come out later sometimes and the nature of archives makes us revisit these arguments and set the actors in the respective roles. With life and war nothing will settle, when you loose something you want justice to be done. Same can be said for the French Canadians more than 250 years later they still engage in active separatist movements….FLQ crisis? And in the whole aspect of loosing your country in the Quebec, less than a hundred years before that you did settle on native land and took their land…but they should just forget about that too and get over it, forget who lost more or what they are entitled too.

      • You're taking this issue to heart. That's why you're lecturing me on just about anything you can put your finger on. That's also the kind of behavior I'm condemning.

        I understand the need for truth. I do acknowledge that we need to teach future generations of the accounts of WWII, what really happened. That's what the officer at the Polish Embassy and the ambassador were catering to. The other people who wrote hate mail and made threatening phone calls, on the other hand, were not "just" trying to correct a mistake. They were seeking retribution and justice.

        If we really are to commemorate our veterans honourably, we need to let go of the pain, and teach our children the truth. By holding on to the pain, we teach our children that the fight is still going on, that justice must still be done. One fine example of the damage that kind of mentality does (and how to deal with that kind of ignorance) is how the British are still calling the French "Surrender Monkey". It's not wrong, it's just unbecoming. But simply out of spite for what happened in WWII they hold on to that adage. That's not how you teach history, neither is writing hate letters.

        But frankly if you really think the FLQ was about the outcome of the battle Les Plaines d'Abraham, then you probably don't have the right mindset to understand my point.

  21. In some book I read ''pope John Paul the second is from the country that had concentration camps'' or ''concentration camps were build in Poland'' and the authors either (Jewish or German) did not mention by who. Those writers want to show Germany in a good light.
    During Nazi occupation if you hide a Jews in Poland you receive a death penalty if they catch you. France and other European countries did not have the death penalty just a fee penalty.

    The problem is with young people if they don't understand the history then they accept it as is written.
    It is job of adults to educate them , because schools,tv,media is designed by Freemasons to control the population thinking.
    Check the book: Architects of Deception – Jüri Lina (Author)

    Those who don't learn from history are destined to repeat it.

  22. For over 50 years these horrible places were accurately referred to as "Nazi death camps", so now why in the world would you refer to them as Polish – some located in Poland, some of them built in Poland maybe, whatever… but not Polish. Journalists, especially young and ambitious ones, should be a little more sensitive and particularly accurate in their use of language. Poles were right to be a little angry, they suffered alongside the Jews in their own country under Nazi occupation and fought bravely for their freedom. They deserve their history respected. I like the point Gaunilon made several comments above, we don't refer to 911 as "American". Try that in a Canadian magazine or newspaper and see what happens.

  23. In October 1941 at the instigation of Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels of the Reich Ministry of Propaganda and Public Enlightenment a European Writers' Association "Europäische Schriftsteller-Vereinigung"(ESV) was created of German and European authors. Poets and writers were suddenly regarded as a useful idea multipliers. It turns out that under the umbrella of the ESV the so-called "blood and soil" literature flourished and more particularly after the war in Bulgaria, Italy, Romania, Spain and Hungary. Such spätsymbolistische poetry, avant-garde theater, neo-realist stories and novels continuing approaches remained relevant.

  24. Paul, I suggest that you and your readers consult:

    Jan Grabowski , "Je le connais, c'est un juif!" : Varsovie 1939-1943, le chantage contre les juifs traduit de polonais par Xavier Chantry. Paris : Calmann-Lévy/Mémorial de la Shoah, c2008.

    And:
    Jan Grabowski, Rescue for money : paid helpers in Poland, 1939-1945
    Publisher Jerusalem : Yad Vashem, c2008.

    The issue is far more complicated than the former Ambassador is making it out to be!!

  25. The term "Polish Camps" clearly referred to camps in Poland. Everybody knows who masterminded and orchestrated them. I can only suspect the people who freaked out are those who aren't fully literate. I don't think an apology is in order. Perhaps a clarification, but that's it.

  26. Those who defend the "geographical shorthand" of "Polish death camp" and "Polish concentration camp" might reflect on how foolish Maclean's would look if it referred to Gitmo as a "Cuban detention facility." Or would defenders claim that was "literate", too, since everybody should know it is an American prison on occupied Cuban territory? When you consider that 6 million Polish people were killed in the Second World War, many of them in such camps conceived, built and operated by invading Nazi Germans on occupied Polish territory, you might start to understand why survivors find this description brutally insensitive in addition to sloppy work by supposedly professional writers and editors. Paul Wells was right to say "Sorry" for this misrepresentation so publicly and prominently, and has gone a long way to restoring faith in Maclean's credibility.

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