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Poland Demands US Apology for FBI Director's Holocaust Remarks

Poland Demands US Apology for FBI Director's Holocaust Remarks
FBI Director James Comey. (Joshua Roberts/Reuters/Landov)

Monday, 20 April 2015 08:00 AM

Poland demanded an apology from the U.S. after FBI Director James Comey suggested that Poles were accomplices in the Holocaust and shared responsibility for Nazi atrocities there.

The Polish Foreign Ministry delivered a note of protest to U.S. Ambassador Stephen Mull on Sunday and argued for more Holocaust education after the FBI director published his remarks in an article in the Washington Post.

“In their minds, the murderers and accomplices of Germany, and Poland, and Hungary, and so many, many other places didn’t do something evil,” Comey said in the article last week. “They convinced themselves it was the right thing to do, the thing they had to do.”

Emotions still run high in eastern Europe over World War II, with countries occupied by Nazi Germany denouncing suggestions that they bear responsibility for atrocities committed on their soil. Poland last sought an apology from the U.S. over Holocaust remarks in 2012 after President Barack Obama mentioned a “Polish death camp” while honoring a Pole who told the world about the Holocaust.

Obama then sent a letter of apology to President Bronislaw Komorowski, expressing support for the country’s efforts to combat use of the phrase “Polish death camps.” According to Polish Foreign Ministry spokesman Marcin Wojciechowski, Mull also offered an informal apology for Comey’s remarks.

Harmful, Insulting

“I deeply regret any suggestion that Poland bears responsibility for the Holocaust, which is untrue, harmful and insulting,” Mull, writing in Polish, said on Sunday on Twitter. “I’ll do my best to make things right.”

Komorowski, whose country’s armed forces were overwhelmed after a month of fighting when both Germany and the Soviet Union invaded in September 1939, said Comey’s comments reflected “ignorance of the historical facts and perhaps some element of personal animosity.” More than 3 million Polish Jews, or 90 percent of the country’s prewar Jewish population, died during the Holocaust.

“We need to give the U.S. time to find a way out of this situation,” Komorowski said Sunday on Polish state television. “We can count on a self-critical response, either from the FBI director himself or from other government officials.”

Since 2004, Poland has sought corrections from several news outlets for use of the phrase “Polish death camps” because the facilities were created and operated by the Nazis during their 1939-1944 occupation and not by Poles. The government has convinced publications including the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times and the San Francisco Chronicle to stop using the phrase.

“These words are unacceptable not just to me but to every Pole,” Prime Minister Ewa Kopacz said during a visit to the neighboring Czech Republic on Sunday. “Poland wasn’t an instigator but a victim of the Second World War, and I’d expect officials speaking on such matters to show full knowledge of the historical facts.”


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Poland demanded an apology from the U.S. after FBI Director James Comey suggested that Poles were accomplices in the Holocaust and shared responsibility for Nazi atrocities there.The Polish Foreign Ministry delivered a note of protest to U.S. Ambassador Stephen Mull on...
poland, demands, apology, fbi, holocaust, remarks
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2015-00-20
Monday, 20 April 2015 08:00 AM
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