Matthew Kaminski: ‘Gafa Obamy’

Mr. Rotfeld, who was one of those kids, several years ago said that, “The thoughtless or intentional use of the phrase ‘Polish death camp’ is insulting and shameful. Not only does it blur responsibility for those crimes—it slanders our nation, which was the first victim of the criminal practices of Hitler’s Germany.” The Karski award was, in part, supposed to straighten this historical record.

Read the entire article at

We would like to remind abort the petition on The White House website:!/petition/issue-official-apology-referring-nazi-concentration-camps-german-occupied-poland-polish-death-camps/0HXPvkxJ

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  1. Michal Karski says:

    Good article by Mr Kaminski in the WSJ.

    It’s supremely ironic, of course, that the awkward, undiplomatic and potentially offensive phrase should have been used by a President who was honouring the heroism of the great Jan Karski and, by extension, the valour of all the thousands of Polish citizens, both Christian and Jewish, who either resisted the Nazis or actively fought them at home or abroad.

    The blame for the gaffe should probably be laid not so much at the door of the presidential speechwriters or Mr Obama himself, but on newspapers and other media who, by using this phrase again and again by way of a lazy journalistic shortcut – in spite of protests and objections – have given it common currency. It has been argued that the phrase is geographically correct (although by the time the camps were constructed, Poland had ceased to exist as a state), but diplomacy requires careful use of language. What on earth is wrong with simply saying ‘Nazi death camps’? Surely everyone must know who the Nazis were? Or is history teaching at fault in the West?

    The only positive side to this mini-furore that I can see is that hopefully Jan Karski’s achievements will now receive greater prominence.

    M.K. (no relation to the great man)

  2. Michal Karski says:

    Another good article on this subject, this time by Corky Siemaszko in the New York Daily News:

    As we know, the President has now apolozied for the gaffe and the apology has been accepted. Hopefully one of the positive outcomes of this whole incident will be the western media finally dismissing any lingering propaganda about Poles being wartime collaborators and instead, beginning to focus on the true story of Polish resistance to the evil of Nazism, whether in the Home Army or in the Polish Forces abroad.

    And now for the film about Jan Karski maybe…?

  3. Michal Karski says:

    Make that “apologized”.

    (Not too difficult to make mistakes)

  4. Michal Karski says:

    By way of answering my own question (above) about the Nazis, may I enclose part of a comment I posted back in December 2010 on the Huffington Post? It was in response to an article by Alex Storozynski of the Kosciuszko Foundation, who has, of course, been a tireless campaigner for the good name of Poland and has been insisting on exact terminology when describing the concentration camps. Here’s the comment:

    “On the face of it, the problem should easily have been solved by the simple use of the phrase ‘Nazi death camps’ or ‘Nazi concentration camps’. That’s how these notorious places of extermination are usually described over here in the UK.

    The reason that the supplementary word ‘German’ is proposed by the KF, it seems to me, is that an additional problem has been identified. It would appear – and some people will find this incredible – that not everyone knows who the Nazis were anymore.”

    The full article and comments can be found here:

    Also – am I a bit naive in thinking that most people would know who the Nazis were? Surely even those with only a basic knowledge of history could google ‘Nazi’ and discover that the full name of the party was the ‘National Socialist German Workers’ Party’.

    PS – The Kosciuszko Foundation’s petition is still going at:

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