San Francisco Chronicle changes stylebook to address “Nazi concentration camps”

The Kosciuszko Foundation petition approaching 200,000 signatures 
As we have collected nearly 200,000 signatures on our petition asking the Associated Press, The New York Times, Washington Post, Time Magazine and other newspapers to change their stylebooks regarding German concentration camps, here is an update.

On February 4, The San Francisco Chronicle ran a movie review by Mick LaSalle, which used the inaccurate phrase “Polish concentration camps.” A number of us wrote letters to the editors at The Chronicle pointing out that this is a historically inaccurate phrase, and asking The Chronicle to change its stylebook.  It did.

In a letter to the Consul General of Poland in Los Angeles, Joanna Kozinska-Frybes,The Chronicle’s Managing Editor, Steve Proctor wrote: “I am writing on behalf of Ward Bushee, editor of the Chronicle, in response to your e-mail regarding Mick LaSalle’s story about the film “Shoah.” I understand your point that the construction of the sentence in question could leave the misimpression about the operation of death camps in Poland.  That was never the writer’s intent. We will run a clarification in the newspaper making this clear, and we will address this question in the newspaper’s stylebook in hopes that this situation is not repeated going forward.”

The following day, the Chronicle’s managing editor wrote a follow up letter to the Consul General, which said. “The item has already been added to the stylebook, simply, that copy editors need to be alert for any sentence construction that might leave a misimpression about the operation of Nazi camps in occupied nations. Regards, Steve Proctor.” 

This is the second major American newspaper to change its stylebook after our campaign. Two months ago, the The Wall Street Journal made a change to its style guide that said, “Concentrate on this: There were no Polish concentration camps in World War II. Auschwitz and other such camps in Polish territory were operated by German Nazis.” 

Congratulations to all of you that have signed the petition so far, because your voice does count. We will continue this campaign until all media outlets stop misleading their readers and viewers about German concentration camps in Nazi occupied Poland.

This petition has been signed by people such as the director of the Auschwitz historic site Piotr Cywinski, the President of Poland Bronislaw Komorowski, Nobel Peace Prize Winner Lech Walesa, Chief Rabbi of Poland Michael Schudrich, Dr. Zbigniew Brzezinski, Executive Director of the American Jewish Committee David Harris, several members of the United States Congress, and Auschwitz survivors who were imprisoned by Germans.

Please forward this e-mail about the Kosciuszko Foundation’s petition to all of your contacts and ask them to sign it.

And forward this link to any newspaper or media outlet that makes this mistake.

All the best,

Alex Storozynski

President & Executive Director

The Kosciuszko Foundation

15 East 65th Street

New York, NY 10065


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