Obama "the great orator" sticks his foot in his mouth again -- this time by insulting the entire nation of Poland. Your thoughts?
Obama insults Poland by referring to Nazi-run "Polish death camp"
The White House tried to head off a diplomatic spat with Poland after President Barack Obama mistakenly referred to a Nazi facility used to process Jews for execution as a "Polish death camp."
The linguistic faux pas
overshadowed Obama's posthumous award of America's highest civilian
honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, to Jan Karski, a former Polish underground officer who provided early eyewitness accounts of the Nazi purge against Jews.
"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," Obama said.
The Polish government keenly watches the global media for descriptions of former concentration camps
as "Polish" because it says the term -- even if used simply as a
geographical indicator -- can give the impression that Poland bore
responsibility for Nazi Germany's World War II genocide.
Tommy Vietor, a spokesman for Obama's National Security Council, said that 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
A US official, speaking on
condition of anonymity, recalled that Obama visited the Warsaw Ghetto
Memorial during his visit to Poland last year and had repeatedly paid
tribute to the bravery of Poles during World War II.
On several other occasions, Obama
has also paid tribute to Poles who perished in Nazi camps like
Auschwitz-Birkenau, near the Polish city of Krakow, and said the victims
must never be forgotten.
In his remarks on Tuesday, Obama
noted that Karski had taken his testimony about the horror of Nazi death
camps and the Warsaw ghetto to wartime US president Franklin Roosevelt.
As a young man, Karski, who was a
clandestine officer of the Polish government-in-exile in London,
witnessed scenes of starvation and death after infiltrating the Warsaw
Dressed as a Ukrainian guard, he
also went to a Nazi transit camp near Warsaw where he saw Jews beaten
and stabbed and loaded onto train cars treated with quicklime for
transit to the gas chambers.
Karski, who died in Washington aged 86 in 2000, later became a professor of history at Georgetown University.
The majority of the six million
Jews who perished during the Holocaust were murdered in death camps set
up and entirely controlled by Germany in occupied Poland.
A million of them died at Auschwitz-Birkenau, which has become the era's most enduring symbol.
Poland was home to Europe's
largest pre-war Jewish population, some 3.5 million people. Polish Jews
represented around half the Nazis' victims.
Around three million non-Jewish
Poles were also killed over the six years that followed the Nazis' 1939
invasion, many of them in death camps.
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