Theft of Auschwitz sign, Poles not mentioned as victims of Nazis

Will the N.Y. Times ever get it straight

By —— Bio and Archives--January 1, 2010

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Brooklyn, N.Y. ... Oldtimers remember the song that began with the words, “The Old Grey Mare, She Ain’t What She Used To Be”


These words seem especially appropriate today when you look at the direction the New York Times is sadly heading.  Accuracy and credibility are not what they used to be at the paper.

The latest gaffe appeared in a recent story about the theft of the sign the Germans put above the Auschwitz gate when they operated the death camp in World War II.  With the Times once again revealing its inability to grasp basic facts about the war, it failed to include Poles among the victims held at Auschwitz.

In view of the glaring oversight, the Polish American Congress felt it had to respond as follows:

To:  Public Editor New York Times

The question of how many victims were killed in Auschwitz has been addressed as far back as 1947.

Then, Communist statistics inflated the number to 4 million.  The latest statistics put it at 1.1 to 1.5 million.

Regardless which numbers are (or were) used, Jews are indisputably the largest group.  Poles are the second largest.

In her 12/24 report on the theft of the “Arbeit” sign at Auschwitz, Judy Dempsey lists “Jews, Roma, homosexuals, conscientious objectors, and Soviet and German political prisoners” as the victims in Auschwitz.  Poles are not mentioned as the second largest group nor are they mentioned at all.  “None” is what Ms. Dempsey inplies in her report from Berlin.

We trust you, as public editor, can explain to us why the New York Times is reluctant to include Poles as Auschwitz victims considering they were second to Jews as the prime targets of Hitler’s SS.

Our question about the way the N.Y. Times reports the Holocaust is particularly pertinent in view of numerous interpretations your newspaper has used in the past.  Quite frequently, the Times has chosen to call Auschwitz a “Polish” death camp instead of describing it as the “German” death camp it was.

Several newspapers in Germany have done this as well.  They scrupulously avoid linking the word “German” with anything as evil as Auschwitz or the other German death camps.

In German newspapers, “Polish” is clearly and consistently the preferred way to describe the camps the Germans operated in Poland.  That this would be a misrepresentation and a bold deception seems to be of no concern to the Germans.

These have been gnawing issues to many of your Polish American readers.  You should be fully aware of this since several of them advised us they wrote to the Times in reaction to such misstatements.

Your clarification would be deeply appreciated and we will make sure to communicate it publicly.

If you still need accurate information about Auschwitz, our co-chair, Michael Preisler, a Polish Catholic who spent over three years as a prisoner there, would agree to an interview with Ms. Dempsey and your other reporters who need to be more adequately informed before they write on the subject.

Frank Milewski, Chair


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Frank Milewski -- Bio and Archives | Comments

Frank Milewski is the New York City Division President of the Polish American Congress

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