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Complainant Name:
Ms Maria Gabrielczyk

Clauses Noted: 1

Publication: Mansfield & Ashfield Chad

Complaint:

Ms Maria Gabrielczyk of Nottingham complained that an article was inaccurate when it referred to Auschwitz as a "Polish camp".

Resolution:

The complaint was resolved when the newspaper published the following letter from the complainant:

We live today in a Europe of many cultures, where I think much emphasis is rightfully placed on understanding the complications caused by different origins, histories and beliefs of individuals and nations. In this regard, the media have a singularly important and responsible role to play.

It is excellent that the Chad visited and reported on the German Nazi Concentration and Extermination Camp (1940-1945) at Auschwitz Birkenau. It is highly unfortunate that the Chad referred to this camp as "a Polish camp". Reading such a description, the man or woman in the street could all too easily assume that the camp was, in some way, Polish.

The German Nazi Concentration and Extermination Camp was not "Polish" in any way. Even the name of the town where the Camp was built, Oświęcim, was changed by the occupying Germans after the invasion of Poland in 1939, to Auschwitz. The camp was built, as Chad accurately reports, by those same Germans, in 1940. The first use to which it was put, was to imprison Poles.

Unfortunately, I find it disingenuous to justify the description of the camp as "Polish" by reference to its geographical location. An accurate and unambiguous description would have been "a camp located in the territories of the former Poland, occupied at the time by the Germans". This is the style of description used by responsible publications, including the major encyclopaedias.

The events reported by the Chad happened two generations ago. It behoves those who, with horror and disbelief, regard them from today's perspective, nevertheless, to report on them accurately and without ambiguity, so as to ensure that those who follow, will clearly know who was responsible. It is for that reason, that on 28 June 2007 the United Nations World Heritage Committee officially announced that the proper name of the camp would be Auschwitz Birkenau German Nazi Concentration and Extermination Camp (1940-1945). It is disappointing that the Chad, in its reporting, did not respect this authority.

There is a useful page on the Web at www.auschwitz.org.pl to which Chad readers and editors can refer to obtain more information.

Report: 79



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