Use Obama ‘Polish camps’ gaffe to tell the truth, says Walesa

The storm over US President Barack Obama’s label “Polish camp” for a Nazi German Holocaust site is an ideal moment to halt lies about the Holocaust, Poland’s ex-leader Lech Walesa said Wednesday.

“This is a golden occasion to end this once and for all. Let’s use this chance to stop this from happening again around the world,” the communist-era dissident leader who later served as Poland’s president told the rolling news channel TNV24.

The White House has moved to try to head off a diplomatic spat with Poland, with Tommy Vietor, a spokesperson for Obama’s National Security Council, saying the president “misspoke”.

“He was referring to Nazi death camps in Poland,” Vietor said.

“We regret this misstatement, which should not detract from the clear intention to honour Mr Karski and those brave citizens who stood on the side of human dignity in the face of tyranny.”

The linguistic faux pas overshadowed Tuesday’s posthumous award by Obama of America’s highest civilian honour, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, to Jan Karski, a Polish resistance member who provided early eyewitness accounts of the Holocaust during the World War II Nazi occupation.

“Before one trip across enemy lines, resistance fighters told him that Jews were being murdered on a massive scale, and smuggled him into the Warsaw Ghetto and a Polish death camp to see for himself,” Obama said.

Underscoring Poland’s outrage, Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski earlier said on microblogging site Twitter that it was an “overwhelming mistake.”

“It’s a shame that ignorance and incompetence cast a shadow over this solemn occasion,” he wrote. – AFP

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever. But it comes at a cost. Advertisers are cancelling campaigns, and our live events have come to an abrupt halt. Our income has been slashed.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years. We’ve survived thanks to the support of our readers, we will need you to help us get through this.

To help us ensure another 35 future years of fiercely independent journalism, please subscribe.

Sapa Afp
Guest Author

Inside Facebook’s big bet on Africa

New undersea cables will massively increase bandwidth to the continent

No back to school for teachers just yet

Last week the basic education minister was adamant that teachers will return to school on May 25, but some provinces say not all Covid-19 measures are in place to prevent its spread

Engineering slips out of gear at varsity

Walter Sisulu University wants to reprioritise R178-million that it stands to give back to treasury after failing to spend it

Lockdown relief scheme payouts to employees tops R14-billion

Now employers and employees can apply to the Unemployment Insurance Fund for relief scheme payments

Press Releases

Covid-19 and Frontline Workers

Who is caring for the healthcare workers? 'Working together is how we are going to get through this. It’s not just a marathon, it’s a relay'.

PPS webinar Part 2: Small business, big risk

The risks that businesses face and how they can be dealt with are something all business owners should be well acquainted with

Call for applications for the position of GCRO executive director

The Gauteng City-Region Observatory is seeking to appoint a high-calibre researcher and manager to be the executive director and to lead it

DriveRisk stays safe with high-tech thermal camera solution

Itec Evolve installed the screening device within a few days to help the driver behaviour company become compliant with health and safety regulations

Senwes launches Agri Value Chain Food Umbrella

South African farmers can now help to feed the needy by donating part of their bumper maize crop to delivery number 418668

Ethics and internal financial controls add value to the public sector

National treasury is rolling out accounting technician training programmes to upskill those who work in its finance units in public sector accounting principles

Lessons from South Korea for Africa’s development

'Leaders can push people through, through their vision and inspiration, based on their exemplary actions'

Old Mutual announces digital AGM

An ambitious plan to create Africa’s biggest digital classroom is intended to address one of the continent’s biggest challenges — access to education

The best local and international journalism

handpicked and in your inbox every weekday