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White House: Obama misspoke on 'Polish death camp'

Posted by on May. 30, 2012 at 6:31 AM
  • 56 Replies

WASHINGTON (AP) — The White House said President Barack Obama misspoke on Tuesday when he referred to a "Polish death camp" while honoring a Polish war hero.

The president's remark had drawn immediate complaints from Poles who said Obama should have called it a "German death camp in Nazi-occupied Poland," to distinguish the perpetrators from the location. Polish Foreign Minister Radek Sikorski called it a matter of "ignorance and incompetence."

Obama made the comment while awarding the Medal of Freedom to Jan Karski, a resistance fighter against the Nazi occupation of Poland during World War II. Karski died in 2000.

During an East Room ceremony honoring 13 Medal of Freedom recipients, Obama said that Karski "served as a courier for the Polish resistance during the darkest days of World War II. Before one trip across enemy lines, resistance fighters told him that Jews were being murdered on a massive scale and smuggled him into the Warsaw Ghetto and a Polish death camp to see for himself. Jan took that information to President Franklin Roosevelt, giving one of the first accounts of the Holocaust and imploring to the world to take action."

Sikorski tweeted that the White House would apologize for "this outrageous error" and that Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk would address the matter on Wednesday.

"It's a pity that such a dignified ceremony was overshadowed by ignorance and incompetence."

Alex Storozynski, president of the Kosciuszko Foundation, said Obama's comment "shocked the Poles present at the White House and those watching on C-SPAN. ... Karski would have cringed if he heard this."

National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor said: "The president misspoke. He was referring to Nazi death camps in Poland. We regret this misstatement, which should not detract from the clear intention to honor Mr. Karski and those brave citizens who stood on the side of human dignity in the face of tyranny."

Anxious to quell the controversy, the White House also noted that the president had visited the Warsaw Ghetto Memorial while in Poland and that he has repeatedly discussed the bravery of Poles during World War II.

The Polish Embassy in Washington, on its website, has a "how-to guide" on concentration camps that states that references to Polish death camps are "factually incorrect slurs" that should be corrected.

The Associated Press Stylebook states that when referring to "World War II camps in countries occupied by Nazi Germany, do not use phrases like Polish death camps that confuse the location and the perpetrators. Use instead, for example, death camps in Nazi-occupied Poland."

Copyright © 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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by on May. 30, 2012 at 6:31 AM
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Replies (1-10):
charleyd68
by Platinum Member on May. 30, 2012 at 6:38 AM
3 moms liked this

I just read this and wondered which HATER would post it!LOL

Because GWB,never said anything by mistake

And Let's not forget the infamous It's a terrible thing to lose one's mind!(paraphrasing) Ha!

Carpy
by Ruby Member on May. 30, 2012 at 7:01 AM
5 moms liked this

I have to say, I give a pass on that one.  And that is something coming from me because i don't give many passes.

candlegal
by Judy on May. 30, 2012 at 2:00 PM

Hater??????    Not Even.

I prefer to look at myself as someone who wants to make sure everyone has the correct information when they vote.    :)

Quoting charleyd68:

I just read this and wondered which HATER would post it!LOL

Because GWB,never said anything by mistake

And Let's not forget the infamous It's a terrible thing to lose one's mind!(paraphrasing) Ha!


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collectivecow
by Gold Member on May. 30, 2012 at 2:08 PM

There is actually another thread about this topic.

collectivecow
by Gold Member on May. 30, 2012 at 2:09 PM
1 mom liked this

Who is hating? He made a very inaccurate statement and it needed to be corrected.

Quoting charleyd68:

I just read this and wondered which HATER would post it!LOL

Because GWB,never said anything by mistake

And Let's not forget the infamous It's a terrible thing to lose one's mind!(paraphrasing) Ha!



"The right to be heard does not include the right to be taken seriously."

Rose87
by Bronze Member on May. 30, 2012 at 2:12 PM
*rolls eyes* what's next? I've called the death camps "jewish death camps" and no one's ever corrected me... not even my jewish friends. Stop sweating the petty stuff and don't pet the sweaty stuff.
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rfurlongg
by on May. 30, 2012 at 2:14 PM
There is already an active thread on this topic. I will bump it. On my ph so I cannot easily link.
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collectivecow
by Gold Member on May. 30, 2012 at 2:21 PM

You're not the President: He should know a bit better when visiting other countries.

Quoting Rose87:

*rolls eyes* what's next? I've called the death camps "jewish death camps" and no one's ever corrected me... not even my jewish friends. Stop sweating the petty stuff and don't pet the sweaty stuff.



"The right to be heard does not include the right to be taken seriously."

Rose87
by Bronze Member on May. 30, 2012 at 2:25 PM
1 mom liked this
Well at least he didn't invade a country while spewing lies about WMD's to his people and then WHOOPS!!! No WMD's!

It's a mistake. We're all human - even the President... AND NO ONE DIED BECAUSE OF HIS MISTAKE.


Quoting collectivecow:

You're not the President: He should know a bit better when visiting other countries.

Quoting Rose87:

*rolls eyes* what's next? I've called the death camps "jewish death camps" and no one's ever corrected me... not even my jewish friends. Stop sweating the petty stuff and don't pet the sweaty stuff.


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rfurlongg
by on May. 30, 2012 at 2:27 PM
From the other post:
I don't think it was a gaff. Calling a concentration camp on Polish soil a "a Polish death camp" is a very, very, common occurance. Though the camps were established and theoretically run exclusively by the Germans, there is a great deal of historical debate on how much local govt (throughout Europe, not just Poland) allowed or facilitated the establishment of such camps. It has become a mission of many of those countries to distance themselves from the atrocities committed against all those who parished in those camps. Obama misspoke from a stance of ignorance on the current debate. It was common for many countries, (even allies) to "assist" in rounding up Jews, gypsies, gays, etc. The Velodrome in Paris being a prominent example. No country involved in WWII can claim innocence in what happened to all of those who died in death camps.
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