Tusk Demands U.S. Response to Obama Death Camp Remark

Poland demanded a “strong and clear response” from the U.S. after President Barack Obama’s mention of a “Polish death camp” while honoring a Pole who told the world about the Holocaust.

“We can’t accept such words in Poland, even if they are spoken by a leader of an allied country,” Prime Minister Donald Tusk told journalists in Warsaw today. “Saying Polish concentration camps is as if there was no German responsibility, no Hitler.”

Since, 2004 Poland has sought clarifications from several news outlets for the use of a phrase “Polish concentration camps” that were run by the Nazis during the country’s occupation in the World War II, according to the Foreign Ministry’s website. The government has convinced publications including the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times and the San Francisco Chronicle to stop using the phrase.

“The president misspoke -- he was referring to Nazi death camps in German occupied Poland,” Tommy Vietor, a spokesman for the White House National Security Council, said in a statement. “We regret this misstatement.”

The text of Obama’s remarks on the White House website hasn’t been corrected as of today.

“The White House will apologize for this outrageous mistake,” Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski wrote on his Twitter Inc. account. “It’s a shame that such a momentous ceremony has been overshadowed by ignorance and incompetence.”

Medal of Freedom

Obama posthumously awarded Jan Karski the Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor, at a ceremony in Washington yesterday, saying the Polish officer “illuminated one of the darkest chapters of history” as he “repeatedly crossed enemy line to document the face of genocide, and courageously voiced tragic truths all the way to President Roosevelt.”

Obama’s error “should not detract from the clear intention to honor Mr. Karski and those brave Polish citizens who stood on the side of human dignity in the face of tyranny,” Vietor said in his statement.

To contact the reporter on this story: Piotr Skolimowski in Warsaw at pskolimowski@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Balazs Penz at bpenz@bloomberg.net

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