- The Polish embassy in the US criticised Fox News over its coverage of a 95-year-old former Nazi concentration camp guard the US deported on Tuesday.
- The embassy apparently took issue with a chyron on Fox News that said: “Palij was a Nazi guard at a Polish death camp.”
- Poland was occupied by Germany during World War II, and it’s inaccurate to describe Nazi concentration camps as “Polish.”
- But historians also say it’s misleading to suggest Poland was not at all complicit in the Holocaust.
Jakiw Palij worked at the Trawniki labour camp in German-occupied Poland during World War II where thousands of Jews were murdered. In a single day, November 3, 1943, SS and police officers massacred at least 6,000 Jewish inmates of Trawniki and a nearby subcamp, according to the US Holocaust Memorial Museum.
Palij, who for years had been living in Queens, New York, was deported to Düsseldorf, Germany, on Tuesday.
The Polish embassy apparently took issue with a chyron on Fox News that read: “Palij was a Nazi guard at a Polish death camp.”
In a tweet, the embassy said: “@FoxNews we appreciate your reporting on yet another war time criminal rightfully being brought to justice. However please DO NOT mislead your viewers by rewriting history #Trawniki Labour Camp was a #GermanNazi camp in occupied Poland.”
.@FoxNews we appreciate your reporting on yet another war time criminal rightfully being brought to justice. However please DO NOT mislead your viewers by rewriting history #Trawniki Labor Camp was a #GermanNazi camp in occupied Poland @briankilmeade @ainsleyearhardt @SteveDoocy pic.twitter.com/h97PiwzguY
— Embassy of Poland US (@PolishEmbassyUS) August 21, 2018
The “Fox & Friends” morning show clarified in a tweet on Tuesday afternoon: “In a banner this morning we said the Nazi who was deported was a guard at a ‘Polish Death Camp.’ The death camp was in German occupied Poland and not a ‘Polish Death Camp.'”
In a banner this morning we said the Nazi who was deported was a guard at a “Polish Death Camp.” The death camp was in German occupied Poland and not a “Polish Death Camp.”
— FOX & friends (@foxandfriends) August 21, 2018
Indeed, Poland was occupied by Germany during the war, and it’s inaccurate to describe Nazi concentration camps as “Polish.”
But historians also say it’s misleading to suggest Poland was not at all complicit in the Holocaust, given the significant number of Poles who collaborated with the Nazis.
Edna Friedberg, a historian at the US Holocaust Memorial Museum, wrote for The Atlantic earlier this year:
“Poland was the victim of German aggression, suffering one of the most brutal occupation regimes among countries in the Nazi orbit. Despite severe penalties, more Christian Poles have been recognised as Righteous Among the Nations – those who risked their lives to aid Jews – than citizens of any other country in Europe. But many others supported and enabled Germany in its campaign to exterminate the Jews.”
During the war, for example, thousands of Polish police officers helped the Nazis guard ghettos where Jews were held before being deported to their deaths.
Poland was the site of six “death camps” or “extermination camps” during World War II where it’s estimated the Nazis murdered 3.5 million Jews.
It’s estimated that over the course of the Holocaust 6 million Jews were murdered by Nazi Germany and its collaborators, which included Poles, according to the US Holocaust Memorial Museum. Among those killed were 3 million Polish Jews, 90% of the pre-war population.
The Nazis also killed millions of other civilians and disarmed soldiers, including political dissidents, gay people, Roma (also known as Gypsies), and Soviet prisoners, among others.
Earlier this year, the Polish government was accused of attempting to rewrite the history of Poland’s role in the Holocaust when it passed a law making it illegal to accuse the country of complicity in Nazi crimes. It called for violators to be punished with a fine or up to three years in prison.
The legislation was widely criticised, including by the US and Israel, and the Polish government amended the law in June to remove criminal penalties for violators.
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