Sunday, December 9, 2012

"Polish Concentration Camps" Bieganski on National Public Radio, Again

Some Polonians focus on the term "Polish concentration camp." They object to it because they feel it misrepresents Nazi Germany and its occupation of Poland during World War Two. This blog does not focus on the term "Polish concentration camp," feeling it is far too narrow a focus. Rather, this blog focuses on the Bieganski, Brute Polak stereotype that is used to distort WW II history, the Holocaust, and also racism and the history of immigration.

However, we are grateful to Otto Gross for sending in the latest use of the term "Polish concentration camp," this time by National Public Radio. Several previous blog entries focus on NPR's use of the Bieganski, Brute Polak stereotype. 

You can find the phrase "Polish concentration camp" as used by NPR here.

You can see Otto Gross' previous posts here and here

Previous blog posts on Bieganski on NPR are here, here, here and here.


  1. I believe is matters because perception is reality and I think people will make an incorrect connection.

    Polish concentration camp will turn into Poland = concentration camps.

    Too many people get their history lessons and "facts" from media and accuracy when reaching millions of people is all the more important.

    The creator of Zylon gas used in Nazi camps was invented by a Jewish doctor.
    If I wrote "Jewish Zylon gas used to exterminate millions" - nonsensical but you'll see my point - I would be accurate, but left uncorrected could someday be the basis for a similar false attribution. German Nazis used the gas and the Polish/Jewish prefix is a deflection.
    Intentional or not, I'm not sure, history deserves a little attention to detail.


    1. Of course. Of course the phrase "Polish concentration camp" is inaccurate and should be corrected and not used.

      That's not what I object to.

      Rather, I don't think that the exclusive focus on that phrase, to the exclusion of the rest of the stereotype, has done Polonia any good.

      The KF famously circulated a petition against this phrase. What did that petition accomplish? Nothing. President Obama uses the phrase. NPR uses the phrase.

      Rather, I recommend a thoroughgoing activism that gets to the ROOT of the phrase. That recommendation is found in the three part blog post entitled "The Crisis in Polonian Leadership, Organization, and Vision." Until Polonians engage in the exact same activism that other, successful groups engage in, Bieganski will continue to thrive.

      Thanks again.

  2. Jewish Zylon gas used to exterminate millions

    Otto-I think You have more than a point- perhaps the only way to make people realize the hurtfulness of the whole thing would be to write an article about Zyklon B and use this phrase.Than wait for the storm of terror to come up. Than explain the original point.

    1. Zyklon B was a pesticide. It was created for the purpose of pest control. First used in Auschwitz on Polish "political" prisoners and Soviet POW's. Cans of Zyklon B were stored near Auschwitz in the building of former polish theatre in Oświęcim. Later those cans were transported to Auschwitz concentration camp in truck with Red Cross markings.
      As for "polish concentration camps" I sugest we should inform people about origins of that name. Link below.

  3. The term 'Polish concentration camp' is just flat wrong. The Nazi Germans established the concentration camps on occupied Polish soil. the camps were not Polish as implied by that term. It should be corrected and not used because it is incorrect.

  4. Thanks Hanna. I'm juggling things. You're right that the best way would be a practical example to show people the error of their ways. I've been trying to work on my project and haven't been making as much progress as I'd like. If I can I'd like to do what you suggest. I also had an idea for something else I noticed regarding Twitter and (un)Social Media.
    Silence is the worst option.


  5. This idea that we must focus on the biggest picture rather than with details is a version of a "all or nothing at all" strategy. The problem with such an approach is that the strategy to intervene successfully and decisively at that level is more complex and more difficult to achieve than a simple, single issue strategy. As long as pursuing the elimination of "Polish concentration camps" is not seen as an end in itself then winning on this issue will make it easier to develop the bigger strategy and involve many people in it.

    From my observations I think the "anti Polish concentration" campaign is doing its job reasonably well. Danusha writes that "despite the KF petition Obama uses the term" Let's try the simple past tense - he 'used' the term (or rather his speech writer used it) but I bet he won't be using it again! Nor will any other president. The outcry was too great and who knows if the KF petition didn't create a certain amount of awareness. After all some leading newspapers did change their style guides. In the case of NPR persistence will pay off as long as idiots don't get involved. An online petition, at the top of which, a number of the more recent and more unpleasant examples are listed, I believe would work.

    The point is, there is no one correct strategy - there are a number of strategies that need to be pursued simultaneously.

    1. Yes, Otto, and i think that we can all do something, no matter how small. Quite a big part of this political campaign against us seems to consist of constant little drops of poison, so it can be countered with constant little drops of truth.

      Three British Members of Parliament were moved to issue a press release about the way Nazi concentration camps are being redefined as Polish, and it included this:

      “The location of most of these camps by Nazi Germany in what was then
      occupied Poland does not justify the description "Polish". We do not
      refer to ancient amphitheatres in France as "French" but as "Roman";
      we do not refer to the Krak des Chevaliers castle in Syria as a
      "Syrian" but as a "Crusader" fortress; we do not refer to the former
      colonial slave forts in Ghana as "Ghanaian" but as "British"; we do
      not refer to Guantanamo Bay camp in Cuba as "Cuban" but as "U.S.". In
      each case the symbol of oppression is associated by its description
      with the perpetrator and not the territory in which it is currently

      They had noted the blatant double standards being applied, and spoken up about them. I sent each of them a butterfly card in thanks.

      What I try to do is to point out these double standards, as that shows there is a political agenda here.

  6. Correction
    Dec. 10, 2012
    Previous audio and Web versions of this story incorrectly referred to a "Polish concentration camp." Poland was under German occupation and the camps were run by Germans.

    1. That is great, thanks for reporting anon - and shows that letters/emails/phone calls really can help. Even in a world run by "the father of the lie", the truth is very powerful. And the truth is that these were not "Polish concentration camps".


Bieganski the Blog exists to further explore the themes of the book Bieganski the Brute Polak Stereotype, Its Role in Polish-Jewish Relations and American Popular Culture.
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