President on Barack Obama's letter
US President Barack Obama in a letter to Polish President Bronisław Komorowski wrote he had inadvertently used the phrase "Polish death camp" in his recent speech and expressed regret over the mistake.
President Bronisław Komorowski said on Friday that President Barack Obama's letter may be an important element of the struggle for historical truth. Thanks to the letter Poland has gained an important ally in its battle against wrongful qualifications, the president said. See also: The phrase 'Polish death camps' is simply untrue
"The events of the past few days and the US President's reply may, in my opinion, signify a very important moment in the struggle for historical truth," president Komorowski told a press conference. "With this letter Poland has gained an important ally in its battle against the misleading, wrongful and painful term 'Polish death camps'" the Polish president said.
"I am convinced that Polish state authorities and institutions, with special emphasis on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, will be able to take adequate stock of the US President's declaration in their further (...) struggle for the eradication of confusing, painful and untrue qualifications found in public language outside Poland," the President declared.
The following is the text of President Barack Obama's letter to President Bronisław Komorowski:
Thank you for your letter of May 30. I was proud to honor Jan Karski with the Medal of Freedom, our nations's highest civilian honor. My decision to do so was a reflection of the high esteem in which the American people hold not only a great Polish patriot, but the extraordinary sacrifices of the Polish people during the Nazi occupation of the Second World War.
In referring to "a Polish death camp" rather than " a Nazi death camp in German-occupied Poland," I inadvertently used the phrase that has caused many Poles anguish over the years and that Poland has rightly campaigned to eliminate from public discourse around the world. I regret the error and agree that this moment is an opportunity to ensure that this and future generations know the truth.
A we all know, the Polish people suffered terribly under the brutal Nazi occupation during World War II. In pursuit of their goals of destroying the Polish nation and Polish culture and exterminating European Jewry, the Nazis killed some six million Polish citizens, including three million Polish Jews during the Holocaust. The bravery of Poles in the underground resistance is one of history's great stories of heroism and courage.
Moreover, there simply were no "Polish death camps." The killing centers at Auschwitz-Birkenau, Belzec, Treblinka, and elsewhere in occupied Poland were built and operated by the Nazi regime. In contrast, many Poles risked their lives - and gave their lives - to save Jews from the Holocaust.
That is why I paid tribute to Polish victims of the Holocaust during my visit to the US Holocaust Memorial Museum in April. It is why I was honored to pay my respect at the Tomb of Unknown Soldier and the Monument to the Heroes of the Ghetto during my visit to Warsaw last year. An it is why, during the 65th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau in 201, I commended the government and people of Poland for preserving a place of such pain in order to promote remembrance and learning for the world.
I know well the bonds of friendship between our two countries. I was proud to welcome you to the NATO Summit in my home town of Chicago, which is home to the largest Polish community in the world outside Warsaw. As President, I have worked with you to strengthen the enduring ties between our nations so that our alliance is stronger than it has ever been.
Poland is one of America's strongest and closest allies. We stand united in facing the challenges of the 21st century in Europe and around the world, and I am confident that, working together, we can ensure that the unbreakable bonds of friendship and solidarity between us will only grow stronger in the days and years ahead. (PAP/ own information)