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Poland's prime minister accused Netflix of implying the country was responsible for death camps in a Nazi documentary

Hayley Peppin , Business Insider US
 Nov 13, 2019, 02:13 PM

Mateusz Morawiecki, Prime Minister of Poland, duri
Mateusz Morawiecki, Prime Minister of Poland. (Photo by Artur Widak/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
  • Poland's prime minister has accused Netflix of "rewriting history" in their new documentary about Nazi death camps.
  • Mateusz Morawiecki wrote to Netflix CEO, Reed Hastings, insisting changes needed to be made to a map in the "Devil Next Door" documentary used to illustrate Nazi-run camps within what is now the territory of Poland.
  • "Sadly, certain works available through your network are hugely inaccurate - and to an extent obfuscating historical facts and whitewashing actual perpetrators of these crimes," he wrote.
  • The PM explained the map is misleading as it implies that "Poland's responsible for establishing and maintaining these camps."
  • Mr Morawiecki finished the letter with an attachment of an "accurate" map to be used in place of it.
  • Last year, Poland introduced a controversial Holocaust law, which criminalised implying that Poland was complicit in Nazi was crimes.
  • For more stories go to www.BusinessInsider.co.za.

Poland's prime minister has criticised Netflix for making a "terrible mistake" by "rewriting history" in a new Nazi death camp documentary. Mateusz Morawiecki wrote to the multi-billion dollar streaming company insisting they make changes to the newly-released, "The Devil Next Door," saying a map used to illustrate Nazi death camps is not only "incorrect" but "deceives viewers."

"Sadly, certain works available through your network are hugely inaccurate - and to an extent obfuscating historical facts and whitewashing actual perpetrators of these crimes," he wrote.

"The Devil Next Door" follows the story of John Demjanjuk, a retired American mechanic who was accused of being notorious death camp guard, Ivan the Terrible. But Morawiecki said the map used in the documentary is misleading as it implies "Poland was responsible for establishing and maintaining these camps, when it was actually occupied by Germany in World War Two."

The prime minister strongly continued on by explaining that Poland wasn't an independent state at the time and that "millions" of their own people were murdered during the Holocaust.

Nazi Germany invaded Poland in 1939 and just a year later, created and operated its largest concentration camp, Auschwitz, in the Polish city of Oswiecim. More than a million men, women, and children lost there lives there. In 1947 the camp was converted into a museum and memorial center.

While Morawiecki commended Netflix for teaching the younger generation about historical events, he wrote: "It was important to honour the memory and preserve the truth about World War II and the Holocaust."

1.1 million men, women and children lost their lives at Auschwitz during World War II.
Bundesarchiv

The Polish prime minister finished the letter by advising Netflix to modify the map or inform the audience of the error and attached an "accurate map of Europe in late 1942."

"Today, we still owe this truth to the victims of World War II," Mr Morawiecki concluded.

In a statement sent to Insider, Netflix said: "We are aware of the concerns regarding 'The Devil Next Door' and are urgently looking into the matter."

The issue of the representation of Nazi death camps in Poland has been a controversial one over the years, which the Polish government has vehemently sought to set straight.

In 2012, then US president Barack Obama mistakenly referred to the "Polish" and not "Nazi" death camps when awarding the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Jan Karski, a former Polish anti-Nazi underground officer.

Barack Obama apologized in 2012 for referring to the Nazi-run concentration camps as "Polish."
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
Obama swiftly apologised for "misspeaking," and wrote a personal letter to Poland's then-president Bronislaw Komorowski. Last year, Poland introduced a new Holocaust law which would see those who imply Polish responsibility for Nazi German crimes jailed and fined. The country launched a social media campaign to support it, which promoted the hashtag of #GermanDeathCamps via YouTube videos and adverts. One video titled, "Today, we are still on the side of truth" said, "Germany put Poland through hell on Earth ... Jews and Poles suffered its terror together."
However, following an international uproar from countries across Europe, Israel and the US who said the law "undermined freedom of speech," Poland removed the threat of the three-year jail term. The Holocaust Law is now a civil, not criminal offense.

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