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Apr 20, 2024

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Congressman Apologizes for
“Polish death camp” misnomer

May 29, 2021 – US Congressman Steve Cohen has apologised for recent statements suggesting Polish complicity in the Holocaust, which evoked hefty protests from the Polish ambassador in the US, the Polish-American Kosciuszko Foundation and the Warsaw-based Institute for National Remembrance (IPN).

In a recent interview for CNN, Cohen, when asked about US Republican congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene’s claims that “wearing a (Covid – PAP) mask is exactly the same type of abuse suffered during the genocide of millions of European Jews during World War II,” answered that “it was not just Nazi Germany; it was Poland where some of these more severe, serious concentration camps were, Auschwitz and Birkenau.”

Cohen’s words brought sharp protests from Poland and the Polish diaspora in the US, most notably the New York-seated Kosciuszko Foundation, which accused the Congressman of slandering Poland by implying its co-responsibility for German war crimes.

In his reply to a protest letter in the matter from the Polish ambassador, Cohen apologised for his words, and assured that he had spoken about the Polish-located death camps purely in a geographical context without meaning to imply Poland’s involvement in the Holocaust.

In the letter, Cohen stressed that he had never claimed that the Poles took part in the extermination of Jews in the Auschwitz-Birkenau camp. He also assured that he was fully aware of the persecution suffered by the Poles from German hands during World War Two.

Thanking Cohen for his apology on Twitter, Polish Ambassador to the US Piotr Wilczek wrote: “let us always keep in mind that words have meaning… and let us do everything to ensure that the memory of that terrible historical era remains uncontaminated.”