Below please find a copy of our petition letter to Ms. Nydia Velazques, a Congresswoman. We encourage you to use it in your individual efforts to fight for truth in media about Poland. Please send it via mail to politicians and mass media people. We need to hear a true history of Poland.
On May 14, 2010, the Wall Street Journal, for the second time in several months, used a form of the term “Polish Concentration Camp” which the Polish Government and Poles the world over have been fighting for several years to have eliminated from articles appearing in media outlets in Western Europe, Canada, Australia and the United States. The Israeli government as well as various Jewish organizations and individuals have also assisted in this effort. While there has been substantial success in Europe, Canada and Australia, and also with many publications in the United States, the Wall Street Journal has decided to be obstinate and refuses to correct the text on the web site versions of the two recent articles, which featured the offensive term. It also refuses to issue a correction in the hard copy version of the Wall Street Journal, although it did publish a letter of objection written by the Polish Consul General in New York.
The Wall Street Journal also refuses to implement measures, used with ease by many other media outlets, which would prevent forever the appearance of this hurtful term in the Wall Street Journal. The fact of the matter is simple. The term “Polish Concentration Camp” insinuates incorrectly that the camps were designed, created and operated by Poles when the camps were designed, created and operated by Nazi Germany, with no participation from Poles, who were instead murdered en masse in these same camps. It has been, however, shown, that the use of the adjective “Polish” to describe the death camps created in German occupied Poland, actually misleads those not knowledgeable in World War II history to actually believe, mistakenly, of course, that the German created death camps were instead created by Poles.
As you may know, Poles rebuffed early overtures by Hitler to join in an alliance with Germany against the Soviet Union; were the first to stand up to Nazi Germany, had the largest resistance movement in occupied Europe; had the fourth largest allied military force fighting outside of occupied Poland against Germany- in the Battle of Britain, North Africa, Norway, France, Belgium, Italy, Russia, and even in Berlin. It is precisely because of this total defiance of the German Nazis exhibited by the Polish nation, AGAINST ALL ODDS, often with NO HOPE OF SUCCESS, and out of PURE PRINCIPLE, that Poles suffered harsh reprisals at the hands of the German Nazis. Six million citizens, including three million Jews, perished, and many Polish cities, including Warsaw were turned deliberately into rubble. We believe that Poles paid a steep price in blood not to have the memory of their loved ones tarnished, intentionally or not, even in the most subtle way, by sloppy journalism and editing, such as was exhibited by the Wall Street Journal.
This is certainly a very emotional issue for Poles all over the world. As it involves the Holocaust, it is also a very emotional issue for Jews. The American Jewish Committee did issue a statement in 2005 in regards to the use of the term “Polish Concentration Camp” which reads in part:
“The camps were located in German-occupied Poland, the European country with by far the largest Jewish population, but they were most emphatically not “Polish camps”…. Any misrepresentation of Poland’s role in the Second World War, whether intentional or accidental, would be most regrettable and therefore should not be left unchallenged.”
In 2007 the UNESCO World Heritage Committee unanimously approved a change in the entry for the remains of the Auschwitz concentration camp from Auschwitz Concentration Camp,” to “‘Auschwitz-Birkenau. The Nazi German Concentration and Extermination Camp (1940-1945).” This change was proposed jointly by Poland and Israel “as a reaction to the increasingly frequent appearance in foreign media of falsehoods suggesting or even referring to the former Nazi camps as “Polish extermination camps.” According to the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council the use of the national adjective “Polish” in reference to the Treblinka death camp “breached the terms of provisions of the Canadian Association of Broadcasters” Code of Ethics and the Radio-Television News Directors Association Code of (Journalistic) Ethics.”
It also found this use to be “an inaccurate representation and an unfair and improper presentation in breach of Clauses 5 and 6 of the Canadian Association of Broadcasters’ Code of Ethics and an inaccurate and unfair informing of the public about “events and issues of importance” in breach of Article 1 of the RTNDA Code of (Journalistic) Ethics.” In light of the above it can be said that the Wall Street Journal has shown itself to be an insensitive, misleading, unethical, and even immoral, news organization. The news of the obstinacy and lack of human decency exhibited by the Wall Street Journal is spreading amongst the Polish population, here in the United States, in Poland, and the world. I hope you understand that Poles are very patriotic, and having done more than their share in defeating German Nazism, as well as ending Soviet communism; and having joined NATO and the EU; having put their economy in order after the devastation of World War II and the neglect of the Soviet imposed Communist economic system; are focusing their attentions on rectifying a situation which justifiably appears to many of them, whether you agree with thern or not, to have its genesis in Soviet and Communist anti-Polish propaganda which sought to undermine support for a free, independent and successful Poland by falsely insinuating exactly that which the term “Polish Concentration Camp” falsely insinuates – that somehow Poles were co-responsible for the Holocaust which consumed a large number of Polish Christians and, of course, Jews, referred to affectionately by the late Pope John Paul II as “our elder brothers in religion”. We would very much appreciate if you could take a public stance in this matter. I believe I can almost guarantee that any contribution on your part in this matter would resonate wide and far, in an extremely positive way, in the Polish community. We hope you use your moral authority and popularity to speak out and do the right thing and condemn a “news” organization, which, because of either gullibility, ignorance, laziness, ill will, bias or plain stupidity, or all the above, qualities hardly suitable for a reputable news organization, chooses to continue to use language that insinuates historical inaccuracies; is in the least misleading, and is most offensive and hurtful to tens of millions of people.
Truth in Media about Poland
Congresswoman Nydia M. Velazquez,
12th Congressional District
266 Broadway, Suite 201 Brooklyn, NY, 11211
Dear Congresswoman Velazquez,
On May 14, 2010, the Wall Street Journal, for the second time in several months, used a form of the term “Polish Concentration Camp” which I find particularly hurtful since millions of Polish citizens perished in these camps. The use of the national adjective “Polish” wrongfully insinuates that the camps were designed, created and operated by Poles, when they were designed, created and operated by Nazi Germany in occupied Poland, and should be correctly referred to as such – “Nazi German camps in occupied Poland.” I believe that Poles paid a steep price in blood for their total defiance of German Nazism, and therefore earned the right not to have the memory of their loved ones tarnished, intentionally or not, even in the most subtle way, by sloppy journalism, such as was exhibited by the Wall Street Journal. The Wall Street Journal refuses to correct the text of both articles on the website and refuses to take steps to prevent this hurtful term from ever appearing again in their publication. I ask that you use your moral authority and popularity to speak out and do the right thing and condemn a “news” organization, which, because of either gullibility, ignorance, laziness, ill will, bias or plain stupidity, or all the above, qualities hardly suitable for a reputable news organization, chooses to continue to use language that insinuates historical inaccuracies; is in the least misleading, and is most offensive and hurtful to tens of millions of people.