Poland furious over Obama's 'death camp' comment

May 31, 2012, 06:18 IST | Agencies

Polish leaders reacted with outrage yesterday to US President Obama's apparently inadvertent reference to a 'Polish death camp' when he awarded a US Presidential Medal of Freedom to a now-dead Polish World War II resistance fighter on Tuesday.

Poles are extremely sensitive about the way Nazi German-run death camps in occupied Poland during the war are described. Millions of Polish Jews and Catholics perished during the conflict and large numbers were murdered by German authorities in the camps.

“Yesterday’s words by US President Obama offended all Poles,” Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk said in nationally televised remarks on Wednesday.  “We always react the same way when ignorance, lack of knowledge, or ill will lead to such distortions of history.”

In honoring Polish war hero Jan Karski, Obama described Karski’s activities in Nazi-occupied Poland and lauded him for having sneaked into the Warsaw ghetto and ‘a Polish death camp"’ and bringing one of the first accounts of the Holocaust to the outside world.  Tommy Vietor, a spokesman for the US National Security Council, said afterward that Obama misspoke.

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