Poland Seeks Name Change for Auschwitz

“WARSAW, Poland – Poland wants to change the official name of the Auschwitz death camp on the U.N.’s world heritage directory to emphasize that it was run by German Nazis, not Poles, an official said Thursday.

The government requested that UNESCO, the U.N.’s educational and cultural body, change the name from “Auschwitz Concentration Camp” to “Former Nazi German Concentration Camp Auschwitz-Birkenau,” Culture Ministry spokesman Jan Kasprzyk said.

Polish officials have complained in the past that foreign media sometimes refer to Auschwitz — a death camp located in occupied Poland where Nazi Germans killed 1.5 million people during World War II — as a “Polish concentration camp.”

That phrasing deeply offends sensitivities in Poland, which was subjected to a brutal occupation by Adolf Hitler’s Nazi forces.”

Sure, and the families of the 1.5 million slaughtered there are more than happy to cater to Polish sympathies. Now I am sure that there were many good Poles during the war. But I also know that there were many who were only too happy to take the land and property of their Jewish neighbors.

I am not so keen on changing the name.

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  1. Jack's Shack April 3, 2006 at 5:33 pm


    I know way too many stories that are similar to this one.

    The Poles were vicious towards Jews. Were there some who were good? Yes, absolutely, but there were so very many who were not.

    then what could be unreasonable about not letting the Polish as a group be branded with the stigma of Auschwitz, when it is the people who invaded their country who perpetrated this crime?

    It wasn’t just the Germans. If it way only German soldiers I would feel differently, but that wasn’t the case.

    Is this uncomfortable and unfair to some people? Probably, but what do I say to my cousins who watched their families butchered. What do I tell my great-grandmother’s family.

    Some things in life cannot be wiped away. Some things in life are like a stain and they impact and affect everything around them.

    I am not willing to just let them off here. Sorry.

  2. chosha April 3, 2006 at 4:57 pm

    Some decisions are lived with? Did the Polish choose the name? Was it their decision? You’ve said some Poles took the homes/possessions of Jews who were taken, but this is about the camp, and it WAS a Nazi German camp. What’s wrong with being accurate?

    You say “cater to Polish sympathies” as if they are asking for something frivilous, something they don’t deserve. In spite of the fact that many more millions have died unfairly in other conflicts under equally cruel rulers, when people think war crimes, it’s the Holocaust that leaps to mind. Nazi is the popular synonym any time someone is trying to express an idea of callous cruelty and disregard for human rights. ANY innocent person should be suitably horrified to be wrongly associated with Auschwitz. If we are going to so carefully (as the article has done) use the phrase “NAZI German” to make clear that not all Germans in all times do or have done the things the Nazis did, then what could be unreasonable about not letting the Polish as a group be branded with the stigma of Auschwitz, when it is the people who invaded their country who perpetrated this crime? Even if the camp was located in Germany, it would be reasonable for Germans to ask that the word Nazi be clearly displayed to differentiate between those that committed the crimes and those who just happen to live in the same place.

    Slam the guilty Polish all you want, but I think you’re being a bit callous towards the majority of Poles who simply happen to live/have lived in a country that was once invaded and used as a location for the acts of that invading force/government. Would you want to be wrongfully associated with something that shockingly terrible? It’s like being associated with a serial killer because you happen to share his surname.

  3. Jack's Shack April 1, 2006 at 4:42 pm

    Too bad, the name can stand. Some decisions are lived with.

  4. Matthias Ripp March 31, 2006 at 7:14 pm

    I can really understand that they want to change the name!

  5. Pragmatician March 31, 2006 at 7:20 am

    Perhaps they hope this way the Jews will raise the salaries of their polish cleaning ladies.

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