Obama apologises to Poles after `death camp` gaffe

Obama made the blunder while giving a speech in honour of Polish World War II resistance fighter Jan Karski, who was posthumously being awarded the Medal of Freedom for his courage.

Last Updated: May 31, 2012, 19:19 PM IST

Washington: US President Barack Obama has apologized to Poles for calling Nazi death camps in Poland ‘Polish death camps’.

Obama made the blunder while giving a speech in honour of Polish World War II resistance fighter Jan Karski, who was posthumously being awarded the Medal of Freedom for his courage.

Adding to the Obama’s embarrassment the fact was that Karski risked his life to gather first-hand evidence about the mass killing of Jews, which he relayed, to allied commanders.

“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,” the Daily Mail quoted Obama, as saying.

However, Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski blamed the ``grave mistake`` on White House speechwriters and its press service.

According to ABC News, Poland`s President Bronislaw Komorowski wrote a letter to Obama urging him to correct his bungle.

"I hope we will jointly act to make up for this unfortunate mistake. I believe that every error, every mistake can be corrected if it is given adequate consideration," Komorowski’s official website quoted him, as saying.
Even though Obama made his comments late in the evening in Poland, it sparked outrage amongst Poles instantly.

Sikorski tweeted saying: ‘The White House will apologise for this outrageous error’, while others said that Obama should have referred to the site as a ‘German death camp in Nazi-occupied Poland’ to separate the perpetrators from the location.

Polish Prime Minster Donald Tusk added, “We cannot accept such words even if they are spoken by the leader of a friendly power - or perhaps especially in such situations, since we expect diligence, care, and respect from our friends on issues of such importance as World War II remembrance.”

Tusk urged Washington to make up for the mistake by actively supporting Warsaw`s drive against such rhetoric.

ANI