History matters

  • October 27, 2023

I am writing to express regret at the most unfortunate use of the word “Polish” when referring to a German Nazi concentration camp in an otherwise very interesting article published on Sept. 24 issue of The Catholic Register, a piece written by Carol Glatz (Catholic News Service).

With the understanding of the common reasons for the stylistic simplifications, the historic truth needs to be preserved. There were only German Nazi concentration and extermination camps in occupied Poland during the Second World War. Describing a concentration camp as “Polish,” only because it was located on the occupied Polish territory, is to indicate that Poland was a participant in the Nazi mass extermination program. In reality, my country was Hitler’s most brutalized victim with more than six million Polish citizens losing their lives  — half of them Polish Jews.

Using the linguistic shortcut mentioned above deeply hurts the feelings of Poles in today’s Poland and Polish communities around the world, including Canada.

It is worth noting that numerous media agencies and world renowned newspapers have introduced special recommendations in their stylebooks so that the derogatory simplification does not get repeated. Also, the United Nations, Yad Vashem and the German government, among many institutions and organizations, do not leave any place for interpretation as to the responsibility for establishing and operating death camps and systematic murder of Jews, Poles and many others.

Witold Dzielski

Ambassador of the Republic of Poland in Canada

(Thank you for reminding us all – the Editor.)

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