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German Camps,Polish Victims: The Irish Independent and its coverage of German-occupied Poland

jan peczkis|Saturday, January 11, 2014

Jan Niechwiadowicz has produced a series of booklets that examine, in great detail, media portrayals of WWII Poland. This is especially in terms of the Shoah. As with his other works, Niechwiadowicz supports his contentions with hundreds of specific citations.


5.0 out of 5 stars

In his German Camps,Polish Victims: The BBC coverage of German-occupied Poland (please click on this item and read the Peczkis review), Niechwiadowicz points out that the BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation) not rarely uses fallacious formulations such as "Polish death camps". (For more on this odious phenomenon as a whole, please click on The PMI Compendium of anti-Polish sentiment (German Camps, Polish Victims)). The BBC also commonly uses the amorphous term "Nazi" instead of German. Finally, The BBC is proportionately more likely to refer to France as "occupied" than Poland.

In this work, Niechwiadowicz shows that the same tendencies exist in the reporting of the IRISH INDEPENDENT. However, the foregoing tendencies are not as pronounced in the IRISH INDEPENDENT as they are in the BBC.


Dr. Joanna Lubecka describes the terminology, over time, used to refer to the German Nazi death camps in German-occupied Poland. She then analyses the causes behind the changes in terminology.

For a few years after the events, Poles referred to the death camps unambiguously as German. A few years after WWII, the Communists changed "German" to "Nazi", because they did not want to offend the East Germans, all the while portraying West Germany as a haven for Nazis. In the western nations, German was changed to Nazi owing to the reasoning behind clichés such as "Not all Germans were Nazis, and not all Nazis were Germans." [This is technically correct, but the vast majority of Germans were Nazis (in thinking, at least), and the overwhelming majority of Nazis were in fact Germans (or Austrians, another German nationality). Note that most Nazi collaborators were opportunists seeking to improve their lot under German rule, and were not Nazis themselves. One must also remember that Nazi-style thinking had deep roots in German thinking, and long preceded Hitler.] Others had objected that calling Auschwitz a German death camp reduces it to a German event. [Who had created and operated the camp--the Martians?]

German historian Klaus Bachmann also repeats the "Not all Germans were Nazis..." exculpation. Dr. Joanna Lubecka will have none of it. She comments, (quote) While Klaus Bachmann is factually correct, he ignores one fundamental aspect. An Austrian Nazi, a German clerk working in occupied territories, and a concentration camp guard (even if not a Nazi) all represented the German state - the Third Reich. Their involvement not only legitimised its activities but also its crimes (even though often indirectly). So, `German crimes' are not ascribed to a nation but to the German Nazi state. So long as the world's press, Germany's included, uses the description `Polish Extermination Camps' (polnische Vernichtungslager) Poland cannot afford to call them `Nazi Camps' because that will blur the responsibility for the crimes. Any and all assertions that this refers just to a geographic location are simply compounding an error because people's knowledge of Europe's WWII history is not that obvious now and will become even weaker over time. (unquote). (pp. 16-17).

How much clearer can it be?


What should be done about the historical relativism of "Polish Death Camps"? Niechwiadowicz comments, (quote) Experts suggest that court proceedings should be pursued against authors using the term `Polish death camps', a proposal supported by several Polish Ministers for Foreign Affairs, lawyers and other experts (including B. Geremek, S. Hambura, J. Kochanowski, A. Rotfeld, experts from the Foundation for Polish-German Reconciliation). (unquote). (p. 18).
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