Museum directors condemn term ‘Polish death camps’
WARSAW, Poland (JTA) — Directors of museums located at the sites of former Nazi death camps are protesting a Polish prosecutor’s office decision not to initiate an investigation into the phrase “Polish death camps.”
On Monday, a joint letter to the Polish Attorney General and Polish Minister of Justice signed by the heads of state museums at Auschwitz, Belzec, Sobibor, Treblinka, Kulmhof, Stutthof, Gross-Rosen and Majdanek , criticized the decision not open an investigation, saying that it undermines national efforts to eradicate the use of the term.
In October, the Warsaw prosecutor’s office refused to open an investigation into the phrase “Polish death camps” used by the German newspaper Rheinische Post in August 2013. The request was submitted to the prosecution by members of the Union of Poles in Germany.
Under Polish law, publicly insulting the Polish Republic is punishable by imprisonment of up to three years. Polish prosecutors, however, have decided that the phrase “Polish death camps” is not saying that the Poles founded the camps but that they were located on Polish territory.
“We have seen many times how the lie confused young people from abroad – ready to believe that these camps were created and carried out by Poland and the Poles,” wrote the museum directors. “Perpetrators triumph and victims again are humiliated. After all, Nazi propaganda was based on the belief that a lie repeated many times becomes the truth in the end.”
The letter was signed by, among others, Piotr Cywinski, director of the Auschwitz- Birkenau Museum, Tomasz Kranz, director of the Museum at Majdanek, and Krzysztof Skwirowski, director of the Museum at Sobibor.