WARSAW, Poland -- Poland wants to change the official name of the Auschwitz death camp on the U.N.'s world heritage directory to emphasize that it was run by German Nazis, not Poles, an official said Thursday.
The government requested that UNESCO, the U.N.'s educational and cultural body, change the name from "Auschwitz Concentration Camp" to "Former Nazi German Concentration Camp Auschwitz-Birkenau," Culture Ministry spokesman Jan Kasprzyk said.
Polish officials have complained in the past that foreign media sometimes refer to Auschwitz - a death camp located in occupied Poland where Nazi Germans killed 1.5 million people during World War II - as a "Polish concentration camp."
The casual description of German concentration camps on Polish soil as 'Polish camps' has long caused considerable offense to many Poles. If the initiative helps avoid some of these slips of the tongue, so much the better, yet I fear that the English language being what it is, the phrase will keep on recurring.
Connoisseurs of fact-checking and accuracy might be intrigued to know that of the three media outlets cited above, only the BBC got the numbers right:
More than a million people, almost all Jews, died there between 1940 and 1945.In 1991, Franciszek Piper of the Auschwitz State Museum authored a work, Die Zahl der Opfer von Auschwitz , which gave the death toll as 1.1 million. Since then, new research has indicated that 80,000 more Hungarian Jews than were previously assumed survived the selections during May to July 1944 to be deported to other concentration camps. Piper himself demolished the attempt by Spiegel editor Fritjof Meyer to reduce the Auschwitz death toll to under half a million on the basis of dubious source interpretations.