Poland seeks apology for Obama’s Nazi camp words
WASHINGTON - Agence France-Presse
Jews place memory plaques on railway tracks at the Auschwitz-Birkenau Nazi camp. AFP photoThe White House on May 30 shrugged off Polish demands to express more than mere ‘regret’ after President Barack Obama mistakenly referred to a Nazi Holocaust site as a “Polish death camp.”
“We regret the misstatement, but that is what it was,” said Obama spokesman Jay Carney, reiterating that the president “misspoke” during a ceremony awarding the highest U.S. civilian honor to late Holocaust hero Jan Karski. “He was referring to Nazi death camps in German-occupied Poland.” Poland had earlier insisted that Washington must do more than simply express the “regret” offered by another White House spokesman late on May 29, hours after Obama’s use of words deemed offensive by Warsaw.
PM expects more
Obama’s verbal slip overshadowed his posthumous award of the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Karski, a Polish underground officer who provided the Allies with early eyewitness accounts of Nazi genocide against European Jews. Poland’s Prime Minister Donald Tusk said Obama’s words had hurt all Poles and he expected more from Washington than just regret.
“I am convinced that our American friends can today allow themselves a stronger reaction than a simple expression of regret from the White House spokesman - a reaction more inclined to eliminate once and for all these kinds of errors,” Tusk told reporters in Warsaw. Between 1939 and 1945, nearly six million Polish citizens perished under Nazi Germany’s World War II occupation of their country. Poland’s government keenly watches the global media for descriptions of former Nazi German death camps as “Polish” because it says the term can give the impression that Poland bore responsibility for Nazi Germany’s World War II genocide.