Nazi death camp

May 19, 2011

German court convicts then frees Nazi guard Demjanjuk

MUNICH (Reuters) – A German court convicted John Demjanjuk on Thursday for his role in the killing of 28,000 Jews in the Sobibor Nazi death camp, then set the 91-year-old free because of his age.

Holocaust survivors at first welcomed the Munich court’s verdict that Demjanjuk, who was exonerated in another war crimes case in Israel two decades ago, was an accessory to mass murder as a guard at Sobibor camp in Poland during World War Two.

Demjanjuk was initially sentenced to death two decades ago in Israel for being the notorious “Ivan the Terrible” camp guard at Treblinka in Poland. The guilty verdict was overturned on appeal by Israel’s supreme court in 1993 after new evidence emerged pointing to a case of mistaken identity.

I am writing about the May 12, 2011 Reuters article: “German court convicts then frees Nazi guard Demjanjuk.”

The article twice incorrectly places German Nazi camps in Poland.

Whereas we appreciate the correct phrasing of “Sobibor Nazi death camp” in your lede, we would like to request that you apply this same level of precision to the geographical location of the camps. The camps were not located in Poland, but in German-occupied Poland: There was no Polish state at the time the camps existed. The territory where the camps were located had been invaded and remained occupied by Nazi Germany throughout the entirety of the camps’ operation.

Using the words “in Poland” in conjunction with the camps may confuse impressionable viewers by leading them to believe that Poland – not Nazi Germany – was to blame for the Holocaust.

Poles fought the Nazi invasion from day one of the Second World War until its very end and paid an enormous price with the loss of six million human lives and massive destruction of the country.

Nazi Germany had many goals when it came to Poland: the extermination of the country’s elite; the incorporation of parts of Polish territory into the third Reich; the enslavement of the remainder of the population into forced labor. As history showed, the Nazis did not hesitate to carry out these policies.

We would appreciate the correction of this phrase in your article.

Please contact me with any questions you may have.

Kind regards,

Justine Jablonska | Press & Media / P.R. Advisor
Embassy of the Republic of Poland
2640 16th Street N.W. | Washington, D.C. | 20009 |

Our story made clear that the camp was run by Nazis.

We are aware that this is a very sensitive issue, and in a subsequent follow-up we said the camp was in Nazi-occupied Poland. We should use similar wording in future stories: GBU Editor

Convicted Nazi death camp guard John Demjanjuk leaves a courtroom after his the verdict in Munich on May 12, 2011. Convicted Nazi camp guard John Demjanjuk, 91, will be released from jail despite his five-year sentence for helping to kill 27,900 Jews at the Nazi death camp Sobibor because of his advanced age, the court said.   REUTERS/Michael Dalder

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