April 13, 2006 Thursday

WJC removes controversial Auschwitz statement

Bielsko-Biala, April 13, 2006

The World Jewish Congress (WJC) has removed from its website a controversial commentary criticizing Poland's plea to rename the former Nazi death camp Auschwitz.

Recently Poland filed to UNESCO, on whose World Heritage List the camp is included, for a change of the site's official name (Concentration Camp Auschwitz) to Former Nazi-German Concentration Camp Auschwitz-Birkenau in the wake of its frequent and misleading description as a "Polish" concentration camp.

In an April 7 feature on the matter WJC criticized Poland's strivings, calling them "an attempt to redefine history". The article's author, WJC secretary Maram Stern, also claimed that although the camp was built and run by the Germans, local Poles knew about its character and were even recruited to work on its premises.

The commentary evoked deep protests in Poland, among others from the management of the camp-situated Auschwitz-Birkenau Museum, an organization affiliating Auschwitz inmates and their families, and veteran unions.

At least 1.1 million people, mainly Jews, Poles, Gypsies and Soviet POWs, were slaughtered by the nazis at Auschwitz from 1940 to 1945. In 1979 the campsite was entered on the UNESCO World Heritage List.