Obama, the Death Camps, and Polish Anger

It is no exaggeration to say that the entire Polish nation was outraged and insulted by President Obama’s clumsy reference in a May 28 speech to “Polish death camps.”  Not only did the Poles play no part in setting up and running the Nazi camps where millions of Jews were murdered, but when the killings took place, there was no Poland.  The Polish government was in exile in London, and the Polish armed forces were still fighting the Nazis.  The death camps were located in what had been and would one day again be the core of Poland, but was, at that time, the Generalgouvernement, an administrative region of the Third Reich.  The higher camp officials were German, and the ordinary guards were various Eastern Europeans.  No Poles were involved.

Polish Foreign Minister Radek Sikorski has called Obama’s gaffe “an outrageous error” and a display of “ignorance and incompetence.”  The White House completely underestimated the justified anger of the Polish people and expressed “regret” that the President had “misspoke.”  Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk was, understandably, not satisfied and demanded a proper formal apology for the use of such a “false and unjust phrase.”  It was not a mere slip of the tongue from Obama, that great “hope and change” TelePrompTer orator. ...

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