New York, May 12, 2011
Dear Editors and Broadcasters,
Today, after three long decades of legal proceedings which took place in several countries, the arm of justice has prevailed, finding John Demjanjuk guilty of ordering the deaths of almost twenty-eight thousand Jews in the German Nazi death camp of Sobibor during World War II.
Sixty-six years after the war’s end, John Demjanjuk’s conviction is likely to be one of the last major cases involving former Nazi death camp guards responsible of mass murder. The outcome of the Munich trial has once again proven that, in the words of Elan Steinberg, the vice president of the American Gathering of Holocaust Survivors, “the pursuit of justice should know no barriers of time and geography.”
I fully concur with those who believe that as inadequate and late in coming as today’s verdict is, it satisfies our common desire for justice to be meted out. However, I am unhappy with the insensitivity of those media outlets which, once again, have managed to offend millions of Polish people here in the United States and around the world, by repeating in their news reports the slanderous phrase “Polish death camp,” while describing the Nazi death camp of Sobibor.
I address all those members of the media who have used this inaccurate and offensive term when I say simply and unambiguously, there were no Polish concentration or death camps during WWII. All those terrible places of profound human tragedy were built, operated and administered by the German Nazis. The only death camps were German Nazi death camps, some of which were located in German-occupied Poland. If Poland is to be referenced in any report, it should only be mentioned with this descriptive phrase: “Nazi German-occupied Poland.” I strongly recommend that members of the news media follow in the footsteps of the San Francisco Chronicle, the Wall Street Journal and most recently the New York Times. These outlets have changed their respective stylebooks to disallow the use of the erroneous term, “Polish death camp.” I implore you to make necessary corrections now and to refrain from journalistic sloppiness in the future.
Consul General of Poland
in New York