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Poland protests “Polish concentration camp” misnomer in Irish media

Poland’s ambassador to Ireland has protested against the Irish national broadcaster RTE’s use of the “Polish concentration camp” misnomer in a feature about the WWII Nazi-German Stutthof death camp, which was located in northern Poland.

The term appeared in RTE’s Thursday programme about the Stutthof camp. It aired in connection with the recent detention of 96-year-old Irmgard Furchner, who worked as a secretary in the camp’s office.

In a letter to RTE’s CEO Jon Williams, Ambassador Anna Sochanska pointed out that wartime concentration camps in Poland were built and run by the Germans, who were occupying Poland at the time.

“This is completely wrong, because the death camps were Nazi-German camps in occupied Poland. Poland was under German occupation at the time when several Nazi-German concentration and death camps were operating on its territory,” the ambassador wrote.

She added that many Poles died in the camps, and wrote that the misnomer was badly received by Ireland’s Polish community as well as in Poland itself.

In her letter, the ambassador thanked the station for its subsequent rewording of the material. She noted, however, that “the damage has already been done,” and asked RTE to run a disclaimer in the matter in its Friday newsreels and to pledge not to use the term again.

Located 36 kilometres from Gdańsk, the Stutthof camp was run by the German SS from September 2, 1939 to May 9, 1945. Over 100,000 people were incarcerated in the camp, of whom an estimated 65,000 died.

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