By: Rachel Pulaski
On September 1, 1939 Adolf Hitler ordered Germany to invade Poland. Hilter established over 400 death and concentration camps in Poland including Auschwitz where the first gas chamber was installed. Over 6 million Polish citizens including 3 million Polish Jews were killed during WWII.
On Tuesday President Obama held a ceremony honoring 13 Medal of Freedom recipients including Jan Karski, a resistance freedom fighter who fought against the Nazi occupation in Poland. While honoring Karski the President shocked Poles all over the world by referring to the Nazi death camps in Poland as “Polish Death Camps”. CBS News reported:
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.” (Watch video of the event at left)
Sikorski tweeted that the White House should 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.”
Fox News reported on Poland’s reaction:
Donald Tusk said he was accepting a White House explanation that Obama misspoke but was still waiting for a “stronger, more pointed reaction” that could eliminate the phrasing “once and for all.” Tusk said it was a “matter of the U.S.’s reputation.” He hinted it should include facts about Nazi Germany’s brutal occupation of Poland.
This is not the first time Poland has received a slap in the face by this administration. In 2009 Obama denied a missile defense shield for Poland after Russia threatened military action.
The Poles were great allies to the US in Iraq and Afghanistan. Maybe that’s why he hates them?