Auschwitz a 'Polish Death Camp'?
Auschwitz a 'Polish Death Camp'?Reuters

Poland slapped President Barack Obama for “ignorance and incompetence” for referring to a "Polish death camp,” one of a string of previous White House insults to Poland. His spokesman said President Obama “misspoke.”

In a ceremony in which he awarded the Medal of Freedom to 13 people, the president cited the late Polish resistance fighter Jan Karski, who died in 2000.

“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. Jan took that information to President Franklin Roosevelt, giving one of the first accounts of the Holocaust and imploring to the world to take action,” President Obama said.

Polish Foreign Minister Radek Sikorski fired off an angry complaint that the president should have called it a "German death camp in Nazi-occupied Poland.”

National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor replied, "The president misspoke. He was referring to Nazi death camps in Poland. We regret this misstatement, which should not detract from the clear intention to honor Mr. Karski and those brave citizens who stood on the side of human dignity in the face of tyranny."

The White House hurriedly noted that the president has repeatedly discussed the bravery of Poles during World War II.

However, the “Polish death camp” comment is not the first time President Obama has insulted Poland, wrote London Guardian’s Nile Gardiner.

“In 2010 he chose to play golf on the day of the funeral of the Polish President Lech Kaczynski, the Polish First Lady, and 94 senior officials who perished in the Smolensk air disaster,” he wrote.

Gardner also stated that President Obama previously has “humiliated Warsaw by pulling out of the agreement over Third Site missile defense installations in Poland and the Czech Republic.”

The writer added, “Six millions Poles died at the hands of Nazi Germany during World War Two, including three million Polish Jews during the Holocaust. The president’s use of the term ‘Polish death camp’ is hugely insulting to the Polish people, and will reinforce the growing image across Eastern and Central Europe of an American presidency that cares little for key U.S. allies…

“For a U.S. administration that likes to boast of ‘smart power,’ this was an act of staggering historical ignorance as well as crass insensitivity.”