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Norway's media watchdog deems "Polish death camp" permissible

PR dla Zagranicy
Alicja Baczyńska 26.11.2015 10:50
The Norwegian Press Complaints Commission has ruled that the phrase 'Polish death camp', in reference to Nazi German WWII death camps in occupied Poland, does not violate standards of journalism.
Baracken im deutschen KZ-AuschwitzBaracken im deutschen KZ-AuschwitzBild: wikicommons/Dawid Galus

The decision comes in response to a complaint issued by a Polish diaspora-run website in Norway after daily Avisa Sor-Trondelag used the phrase in a review of wartime film The Reader last August.

Polish website ScanPress.net and Poland's embassy based in Oslo jointly demanded a disclaimer, which the paper issued and apologised for the "imprecise" phrase.

The head of ScanPress.net, Henryk Malinowski, however, considered the statement "superficial", believing that it did not indicate that the paper's staff "comprehended the gravity of the mistake made."

The Norwegian Press Complaints Commission, which initially discarded the case submitted by Malinowski, reviewed the complaint following an appeal and ruled in favour of the paper.

According to the country's media watchdog the paper did not breach standards of journalism, as the phrase "Polish death camps" merely indicates that the compound was located in Poland. The council has stressed that Norwegians, too, refer to Nazi camps based in their country as "Norwegian".

The assembly, however, agreed that the paper's staff could have chosen a more precise description of the Auschwitz Nazi German death camp.

"We do not accept such an interpretation," said Foreign Affairs Minister Witold Waszczykowski, citing a UNESCO-adopted definition of Auschwitz as "Auschwitz-Birkenau German Nazi Concentration and Extermination Camp."

The Polish authorities have been campaigning to root out the term "Polish death camps" used in the media and by public figures for years - a phrase which Poles deem insulting as it renders the nation complicit in perpetuating the mass murder of European Jews during World War II.

In 2012, US President Barack Obama sparked controversy after he referred to a "Polish death camp" in a ceremony honoring wartime emissary Jan Karski. The US head of state later apologised for his ill choice of words. (aba/rk)

Source: PAP

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