The Polish embassy in London has contacted a local newspaper journalist to complain that an article saying Auschwitz concentration camp is in Poland “distorts the truth about the Holocaust”.
A reporter for the Ham & High Express published a story yesterday about a local church that had offered to host a Holocaust Memorial Day event for a neighbouring synagogue tomorrow evening.
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The article included a round-up of other memorial events taking place across Hampstead and Highgate and described a Holocaust survivor set to speak at one as having been “betrayed and deported to Auschwitz in Poland” along with her family.
The Media and Public Diplomacy department of the Embassy of the Republic of Poland, based in London, contacted the reporter in an email today – seen by Press Gazette – claiming there were no Polish concentration camps.
They said of the reference to a “concentration camp in Poland” in the article: “Such wording is unfortunate and distorts the truth about the Holocaust.
“There were no Polish concentration or extermination camps during World War II. Camps were set up and administered by Nazi Germany on its own territory as well as in occupied Europe, including occupied Poland.
“The Polish government never collaborated with the Nazi German occupiers and went into exile in Paris and later in London to continue the fight. Moreover, Poles constituted the largest national group among those who rescued Jews – the Righteous Among the Nations, with more than 6,600 of over 26,000 honoured by Yad Vashem.
“Therefore, referring to ‘death camps in Poland’ is inaccurate, giving the mistaken impression they were run or in any form accepted by Poland or the Polish people.”
They said they would be “grateful” if the reporter could “add the clarification that the concentration camps were established and operated by Nazi Germany across occupied Polish territory.
“Terms ‘German Nazi concentration camp in occupied Poland’ or ‘Nazi camp in German-occupied Poland’ would be more accurate in this context. It’s important for us to make this distinction, as use of misleading phrases is replicated by other media and results in reinforcement of this collective memory error.”
Holocaust Memorial Day takes place tomorrow, 27 January. More than 1m people were killed at Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp. The Holocaust claimed millions of lives, including those of six million Jews.
Weekly paid-for title the Ham & High Express is owned by Archant and has a total average circulation of 8,912 copies.
Picture: Reuters/Kacper Pempel