On a day that he honored Jan Karski, the Polish hero who tried to stop the Holocaust, President Barack Obama shocked the Poles present at the White House and those watching on C-SPAN by claiming that Karski had been smuggled into “a Polish death camp.” Karski would have cringed if he heard this. It was a German death camp in Nazi occupied Poland.
Over the past two years, more than 300,000 people have signed a petition on the Kosciuszko Foundation’s web site requesting media outlets to stop using this historically erroneous phrase. So far, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, the Associated Press and others have changed their stylebooks to ban the use of this phrase. Now, the Obama White House must do the same.
President Obama’s remarks are already being called “scandalous” by media outlets in Poland. Obama was seen reading this phrase off a teleprompter. The President must acknowledge his mistake and apologize for it. He must do it for Karski and the other Poles that risked their lives trying to stop the Holocaust.
I am particularly disappointed in President Obama because I praised him on the Huffington Post just minutes before he made this faux pas. It was a strange way for Obama to honor Jan Karski.
President & Executive Director
The Kosciuszko Foundation