Polish body stresses correct nomenclature ahead of Auschwitz ceremony

CLEMENS BILAN/PAP/EPA

The Polish League Against Defamation, ahead of ceremonies marking the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Nazi German death camp Auschwitz, has sent information to 8,000 news outlets in the United States, Germany, France and Russia, stressing the use of correct nomenclature related to the death camp.

"On January 27, 1945, the Soviet Red Army entered the concentration camp Auschwitz, freeing the prisoners and ending the genocide committed by Germans against Poles, Jews, Roma and other nations. In relation to this anniversary, the Polish League Against Defamation has issued a statement addressed to journalists and editorial teams in the United States, Germany, France and Russia, in which it recalls the most important historical facts," the League writes.

In its news release, the organisation criticises recent statements by Russian President Vladimir Putin, in which he promoted an alternative version of the origins of World War II. The League says such statments "not only constitute scandalous historical revisionism, but also strip genocide victims of their dignity."

The League says that Auschwitz was built through slave labour by political prisoners from the first transports to the camp, which was initially designed solely for Poles who opposed the German rule. It was only after the Germans decided to go ahead with "Final Solution to the Jewish Question" that they started to bring transports of Jews from Poland and all over Europe to Auschwitz, the League goes on to say.

"The camp was maintained and administered solely by the Germans. It was the officers and soldiers of the German criminal organisation SS that were the masters of life and death in the camp," the League writes.

The document also stresses that Poland was invaded by Nazi Germany in September 1939 under a German deal with the Soviet Union, and that initially both countries occupied Polish territories, until Nazi Germany decided to attack the Soviet Union two years later.

"Only after two years did Soviet Russia become an enemy of the Third Reich and ultimately drove the Germans away from the conquered lands, including from Poland. In 1945, the Soviets entered the death camp Auschwitz, and the Soviet security apparatus, the NKVD, started to use the Auschwitz camp as a prison for members of the Polish independence underground and prisoners of war."

"This was because Soviet Russia had had vast experience in running murderous concentration camps also on its own territories (Gulags). Similarly to Auschwitz, the NKVD adapted other former German camps created on the territory of occupied Poland to suit their needs. The purpose of it all was to bolster the terror apparatus at the time when the communist rule was being introduced in Poland after World War II," the statement goes on to say.

The League also says that historical truth should always be protected against people who like the Russian president want to manipulate the WWII narrative to achieve the goals of their "expansion-oriented foreign policy."

"The Polish League Against Defamation reminds everyone who will be reporting on the anniversary of capturing the Auschwitz camp by the Red Army that the camp was a Nazi German death camp established by the Third Reich on the territories of occupied Poland. Poland at that time was not a free and independent country, and the Polish Government-in-Exile had no jurisdiction over the territory of Poland from September 17, 1939, the day when the Soviets attacked Poland in collaboration with Germany. Had it not been for the attack and, as a consequence, the collapse of the Polish State, neither the Holocaust nor other crimes - which were a simple consequence of the transfer of genocidal practices of both totalitarian occupiers on the territories of the occupied Polish lands - would have taken place," the League said.

The organisation also said that Holocaust denial and any other lies related to Holocaust perpetrators constitute hate speech.

The Polish League Against Defamation, established in 2013, initiates and supports activities aimed at rectifying erroneous information on Polish history, particularly during WWII, as well as promoting knowledge about Poland and its culture and fighting anti-Polish sentiment.