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May 30, 2012

The Anti-Defamation League says White House should turn mistake on Nazi death camps into a teachable moment

The ADL says it welcomes the White House expressing regret for President Obama’s description of the Nazi death camps in Poland as "Polish camps" when he honored Jan Karski with the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

But it suggests the WH could do more: We commend the White House for appropriately recognizing their error in describing the Nazi death camps in Poland as 'Polish camps' and immediately expressing regret for the mistake," national director Abraham Foxman said. "This is a perennial problem, and the president's unwitting mistake only highlights the need for ongoing education about the history of World War II and the Holocaust. 

 "The misnomer “Polish camps” unjustly implies that the death camps in Poland were built in the name of the Polish people rather than by the Nazi regime. While the White House acknowledged that the President misspoke, the Administration should turn this mistake into a teachable moment for American public and explain more fully why the expression “Polish death camps” offends our strong ally, Poland, and distorts the history of the Holocaust. By doing so, the White House will do more than rectify a mistake; it will strengthen the relationship of trust with Poland and promote Holocaust education."


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I hope the President's apology helps to heal the anger and pain caused by atrocities committed almost 70 years ago. I fear it will not. Mistakes in language are far too easy to make. For instance, you made a mistake in using the word "here" instead of "hear". Mistakes need to be pointed out and once acknowledged, everyone needs to move on. Nothing more can be accomplished by a continued discussion.


Sorry but here in Poland we didn't here any real apology up to now. This is really very unfortunate. Lets think a little about showing respect to other partners. What would you say if somebody in Poland would describe, by mistake, President Obama as president of Negros in USA. Wouldn't it be a total obstruct of all possible rules of behavior of all Americans? I would say yes, but Americans try to suggest that naming Germain (not nazi, they were Germans) death camps placed in occupied Poland as Polish death camps is just a mistake worthy to laugh it off and go on.

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