- Poland’s prime minister has accused Netflix of “rewriting history” in its new documentary about Nazi death camps.
- Mateusz Morawiecki wrote to Netflix CEO Reed Hastings insisting changes needed to be made to a map in the “Devil Next Door” documentary used to illustrate Nazi camps in what is now Poland.
- “Sadly, certain works available through your network are hugely inaccurate – and to an extent obfuscating historical facts and whitewashing actual perpetrators of these crimes,” he wrote.
- Morawiecki called the map misleading and said it implied that Poland “was responsible for establishing and maintaining these camps.”
- Morawiecki finished the letter with an attachment of an “accurate” map to be used in place of the original.
- Last year, Poland introduced a controversial law that criminalized implying that Poland was complicit in Nazi war crimes.
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Mateusz Morawiecki wrote to the multibillion-dollar streaming company insisting that it make changes to its newly released “The Devil Next Door,” saying a map used to illustrate the location of Nazi death camps was not only “incorrect” but “deceives viewers.”
“Sadly, certain works available through your network are hugely inaccurate – and to an extent obfuscating historical facts and whitewashing actual perpetrators of these crimes,” he wrote.
Polska była ofiarą niewyobrażalnych zbrodni niemieckich podczas II WŚ. Być może dla @NetflixPL pomyłki w filmach dok. są mało znaczące, ale dla Polaków mają znaczenie fundamentalne. Wystosowałem do szefostwa portalu list – poniżej wersja ????????.
— Mateusz Morawiecki (@MorawieckiM) November 11, 2019
“The Devil Next Door” follows the story of John Demjanjuk, a retired Ukrainian American mechanic who was accused of being a notorious death camp guard known as Ivan the Terrible during World War II.
Morawiecki said a map used in the documentary was misleading, as it showed the location of Nazi death camps within the modern borders of Poland. He said that implied Poland “was responsible for establishing and maintaining these camps, when it was actually occupied by Germany in World War Two.”
The prime minister went on to say that Poland wasn’t an independent state at the time – it was occupied by Nazi Germany – and that “millions” of Poles were murdered during the Holocaust.
.@Netflix, stay true to historical facts!
During the time which the “The Devil Next Door” series describes, Poland’s territory was occupied, and it was Nazi Germany who was responsible for the camps. The map shown in the series does not reflect the actual borders at that time. pic.twitter.com/W5i8C9THo3
— Ministry of Foreign Affairs ???????? (@PolandMFA) November 10, 2019
Germany invaded Poland in 1939 and just a year later created and operated what would become its largest concentration camp, Auschwitz, in the Polish city of Oswiecim. It also became the deadliest of the Nazis’ death camps, as more than 1 million men, women, and children were killed there. In 1947, the camp was converted into a museum and memorial centre.
While Morawiecki commended Netflix for teaching about historical events, he wrote: “It was important to honour the memory and preserve the truth about World War II and the Holocaust.”
The Polish prime minister finished the letter by advising Netflix to modify the map, and he attached what he called an “accurate map of Europe in late 1942.”
“Today, we still owe this truth to the victims of World War II,” Morawiecki concluded.
In a statement sent to Insider, Netflix said: “We are aware of the concerns regarding ‘The Devil Next Door’ and are urgently looking into the matter.”
Representation of the death camps in Nazi-occupied Poland has been a sensitive subject over the years with the Polish government.
In 2012, US President Barack Obama referred to “Polish” and not “Nazi” death camps when awarding the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Jan Karski, a former Polish anti-Nazi underground officer.
Obama swiftly apologised for “misspeaking,” and he wrote a personal letter to his Polish counterpart at the time, Bronislaw Komorowski.
Last year, Poland introduced a new law that introduced fines and jail time for anyone found to imply Polish responsibility for Nazi crimes.
The country launched a social-media campaign to support it, which promoted the hashtag of #GermanDeathCamps via YouTube videos and advertisements.
One video titled “Today, we are still on the side of truth” said: “Germany put Poland through hell on Earth … Jews and Poles suffered its terror together.”
— Chancellery of the Prime Minister of Poland (@PremierRP_en) February 8, 2018
But following an international uproar from countries across Europe, Israel, and the US who said the law “undermined freedom of speech,” Poland removed the threat of the three-year jail term and made the Holocaust law carry only civil penalties, not criminal.
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