WARSAW - President Obama has written a letter to the Polish president expressing “regret’’ for an inadvertent verbal gaffe that caused controversy in Poland this week.
On Tuesday, Obama used the expression “a Polish death camp’’ while honoring a Polish World War II resistance hero rather than wording that would have made clear that he meant a death camp that Nazi Germany ran on Polish soil during its wartime occupation of Poland.
Warsaw has been waging a campaign for years against phrases such as “Polish death camps’’ to refer to Auschwitz, Treblinka, and other German killing sites. The language deeply offends Polish sensitivities because Poles not only had no role in running the camps, but were considered racially inferior by Germans and were slain in them in huge numbers.
Obama made the verbal slip-up while posthumously awarding the Medal of Freedom to Jan Karski, a resistance hero.