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First trial confirmed over “Polish concentration camp” slur

PR dla Zagranicy
Nick Hodge 04.06.2012 10:37
The first court case over the use of the misleading term “Polish concentration camp” is set to go ahead in Warsaw this October, with German paper Die Welt in the dock.


The lawsuit relates to a reference to the former Majdanek forced labour camp, which was set up by the occupying Nazi German regime in 1941 near the city of Lublin.

In an article published in November 2008, Die Welt described the labour camp, where an estimated 79,000 prisoners died, as a “Polish concentration camp.”

The case has been filed by Zbigniew Osewski, whose family members suffered under the Nazi regime, with one grandfather dying in a German prison, the other spending five years in a forced labour camp in Essen.

In 2010, the Warsaw Appeal Court ruled that such a case can be taken up by the Polish judiciary, provided that the offence is carried out on Polish territory.

Lawyers have argued that the print version of Die Welt is sold on Polish territory, likewise the online version is accessible, and hence the claim is valid.

Osewski is calling for 500,000 euro (2.2 million zloty) in damages, which he hopes will be paid to an educational centre in the Baltic city of Swinoujscie, near the German border.

Polish Americans picket Obama

Meanwhile, Polish Americans picketed President Barack Obama's visit to his native Chicago over the weekend, following the American leader's use of the expression “Polish death camp,” while awarding the Medal of Freedom to the late Polish resistance icon Jan Karski.

The Polish American Action Committee (PAAC), which organised the protest, believes that Obama should have made a vocal apology for last Tuesday's misstatement, and that his letter to President Bronislaw Komorowski was insufficient.

The group of Polish Americans protested outside the Chicago Cultural Center on Friday, where Obama was making a fund-raising speech, in the lead-up to this November's presidential election.

Although Obama's statement did not receive nearly as much coverage in the US as it did in Poland, the Washington Post published a letter on Monday which argued that Jan Karski, the late recipient of the Medal of Freedom, had been overshadowed by the diplomatic scandal. (nh)

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