A STRONGER REACTION is being demanded of the White House after US president Barack Obama referred to “Polish death camps” during a ceremony honouring a World War II hero.
Polish leaders have said that they’re not completely satisfied with the explanation that Obama misspoke and are demanding an apology. The Warsaw Voice reports that the incident has caused widespread anger in Poland.
At a press conference Polish prime minister Donald Tusk said:
When someone says ‘Polish death camps’ it’s as if there were no Nazis, no German responsibility, as if Hitler hadn’t existed.
The phrasing is considered hugely offensive in Poland, where Nazi Germany murdered Poles, Jews and others in death camps during World War II. Poles were considered an inferior race by Hitler and had no role in running the camps.
Some say however that they hope the blunder will help clarify the sensitive issue to the world.
Foreign Minister Radek Sikorski called Obama’s words an “outrageous mistake”, while former President Lech Walesa said that the phrase confused henchmen with their victims but that Obama’s blunder might prevent similar statements by others.
The White House said the president “misspoke” Tuesday in bestowing the Medal of Freedom posthumously on Jan Karski, who reported the suffering in camps in Poland. Obama had described how resistance fighters had smuggled Karski into the Warsaw ghetto and into a “Polish death camp” so that he could report on events there.