Consul General of Poland in New York
I really appreciate the solidarity you showed by voicing your opinions on the recent, most saddening, use of theoutrageous “Polish death camp” phrase by President Barack Obama during the Presidential Medal of Freedom Award Ceremony at the White House just a few days ago.
What started so well, as an attempt to pay tribute to the hero of three nations, Jan Karski, took a nasty twist with President Obama “misspeaking” on the Izbica Nazi German camp. However, miraculously enough, thanks to our common effort, wide media coverage, and the prompt exchange of letters between President Komorowski and President Obama, the historically crucial message that there were no other death and concentration camps than the ones built, guarded and administered by Nazi Germany reverberated loudly around the world.
For many years, the oft-repeated “Polish camps” misnomer has consolidated Polish-Americans with Jewish-Americans in fighting for historical truth. Today, we have gained a huge ally in this struggle, the President of the United States, Barack Obama, who in his letter to President Komorowski states: “I regret the error and agree that this moment is an opportunity to ensure that this and future generations know the truth,”
Undoubtedly, the awarding of the Presidential Medal of Freedom to a Polish catholic, an officer in the Polish underground army and a representative of the Polish government in exile, the man who was called “the one who tried to stop the Holocaust”, is of huge importance to the Poles, Americans and Jews all around the world. Yes, there were courageous people who did not stay indifferent to the crime of Holocaust and who risked their own lives to persuade the West to act and stop the killing of millions of Jews in the death camps of occupied Poland, where the Nazi Germans built most of their gas chambers. It a shame there were so few of them and they were not heard.
The ceremony at the White House, President’s Obama inadvertent gaffe and its fallout in the media became a great lesson of history, so important especially for the young generations.
In conclusion, I would like you to consider joining the Jan Karski US Centennial Campaign, gathering of Poles, Americans, Christians and Jews working together to foster the values of individual responsibility and human solidarity.
Consul General of Poland
in New York