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Obama’s words about the death camps – much more than a “slip of the tongue”

Halya Coynash

Auschwitz  (accurate information can be found at )

People make mistakes all the time.  Presidents and their speechwriters have no such leeway to, as President Obama’s Administration put it, “misspeak”.  It is difficult to understand how anybody in their position could have called the death camps Polish.  It is even more baffling why, a day on, there has been no formal apology.

The mistake was all the more distressing given the context.  The USA, together with other western countries, once ignored Jan Karski’s impassioned call for response to the fate of the Jews.  He, a Pole, risked his life every second to tell a world that paid no heed. 

It would have been better not to give the award, than to couple it with such a profound insult.

I would add that this is my no means only distressing to all Poles.  Such statements demonstrate a blithe ignorance about countries which suffered terribly from the Nazi occupation and distort history.  We have a duty before the victims of the Nazi death camps to ensure enduring memory and historical accuracy. .

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