|"Accusing Poles of participation in the Holocaust is a sin." |
Michael Schudrich, Chief Rabbi of Poland.
Yet on a regular basis, American journalists do just that when they refer to Auschwitz or the other facilities as "Polish concentration camps." This offensive reference in a recent story in The New York Times is causing a firestorm of response amongst Polonia. The two most vocal are Marcin Zmudzki of Yahoo’s Polish Global Village and Alex Storozynski, president of the NYC-based Kosciuszko Foundation, who describes such misidentification as “Holocaust revisionism.”
“Poles are disrespected on a regular basis by newspapers that use this offensive phrase when describing the Nazi death camps,” he said in a recent email. “Unless we act to stop the use of this defamatory language, American students will grow up thinking that Poles, rather than the Germans, built these camps.” Storozynski addressed these issues in an editorial worth reading in The Huffington Post and has started a petition campaign here.
Zmudzki encouraged Polonia to take further action and contact The Times staff directly. Her demands are worthwhile for your use with even local media outlet on these kinds of issues:
1) Send a courteous, but stern and unyielding letter of protest to the reporter and editor asking that the phrase "a Polish concentration camp" be removed from the online edition on its website. Although it is too late, the online edition becomes a source of archival disinformation, whether intentional or unintentional, about Polish history.
2) Ask for a public retraction and apology for allowing this offensive phrase to appear on its pages because it is an affront to all Poles who fought against the Nazis during World War II.
3) Ask the Associated Press and The New York Times to revise their stylebook (the set of guidelines on how to write and how not to write) to include a specific rule prohibiting the use of phrases such as "Polish concentration camp" or "Polish death camp." Explain that we want to prevent the same misinformation in the future, keeping in mind new generations of readers, who are further and further removed from those who actually witnessed the horrors of World War II.
This may seem like a meaningless reference, but, unfortunately, it is one of many where our Polish history is maligned and rewritten. It is our responsibility as Polonia to be vigilant to assure that the truth of proud cultural is learned and understood.
We will be celebrating part of that proud culture next week when we honor our Veterans and learn about The Order Virtuti at Polish Happy Hour on Veterans Day, Thursday, Nov. 11th 5:30-9 PM at Vintage Estates in Boardman. One of the oldest military decorations in the world still in use, this medal is given to those, like Gen Tadeusz Kosciuszko, who show extreme courage in the face of the enemy. It is the equivalent of the U.S. Medal of Honor. As part of the evening then, we will all veterans and men named Ted! Learn more about it all here. The PolishYoungstown Team considers our last event here one of the best PHH’s that has ever happened…you will want to be a part of it!
November kicks off the holiday shopping season and, as such, we wanted to encourage you to think of adding some Polish-related items to your shopping list. There are two national favorites: Poland by Mail, known for offering a broad variety of white eagle-bearing spirit item; and the Hamtramck-based Polish Art Center, the importer of elegant folk art gift items from Poland. Make sure you tell both of them you heard about them from PolishYoungstown! But if you, like me, want to spend your money locally, there are still ways to purchase Polish items: our Polish teacher Marta Mazur has launched Mazur Place where she offers Christmas cards with opłatek wafers enclosed and gorgeous Polish Christmas ornaments. Or how about giving a little bit of PolishYoungstown to keep with them wherever they are? The Krakowiaki Polish Folk Circle is making that possible with The Cat’s Meow replicas of important Polish places in Youngstown. Or collect all of the two-dimensional replicas for yourself! Don’t forget, the group also has charming pierogi ornaments, refrigerator magnets and other stocking stuffers. Call Cynthia Foust at 330-550-0134 for details. And if your loved one wants to tell everyone about their Polish pride, then PolishYoungstown, Polish Happy Hour and Polish Arts’ Got Pierogi shirts are for you! If you want one-stop shopping, make the drive to Polishfest at the University of Pittsburgh’s Cathedral of Learning. Lawrence Kozlowski, the folk artist that has hosted the Christmas and Easter workshops, will be celebrating this event’s the 25th Anniversary this year! The gothic cathedral structure will add an amazing ambiance to this event’s “Christmas in Poland” theme. Free admission, homemade food, folk art demonstrations, performances and one-of-a-kind vendors make for a great afternoon. For more information, call 412-231-1493.
We are finally able to release all the details about Sunday, December 5th, our big day with the Mazowsze Polish Folk Song and Dance Ensemble. Coming back after a 30 year Valley hiatus, the world–renowned group has selected Youngstown for its’ first-ever, public workshop in the United States. The event is open to dancers and singers of every kind and level, and already attracted participants from throughout the nation. It will take place from 12-5 PM. To put it in perspective: this is the equivalent of a guitar enthusiast having the chance to play with Eddie Van Halen. That evening, the 18-piece orchestra and 20-piece choral will be performing as the entertainment at the Polish Arts Club of Youngstown Annual Wigilia Dinner at The Youngstown Club. Listen to a sample here. This event is open to the public. Tickets are $35 pp for adults and $15 pp for child. Reservation forms are available here Then on Monday, December 6th 2010 the entire troupe will be performing at the State Theatre in Cleveland. Mezzanine seats are reserved in a PolishYoungstown bloc. For $32 and $42 pp, these special seats include a Cast Party with the Mazowsze after the show. It is an incredible way to celebrate the holidays!
NOTE: As of this month, we have decided that we are relocating our evening Polish language lessons to St. Casimir Church on Jefferson Street in Briar Hill. Not only is it a way to support those parishioner’s in their efforts to create a cultural center, but it offers us less likelihood of conflicts with programming. Tuesday AM classes will continue at Sts. Peter and Paul.
Coming up: Sat, Nov. 6th Bal Polonaise hosted by Pittsburgh Polish Cultural Council… Sunday Nov.7th-14th from 11 AM to 3 PM the exhibition “The Katyn Forest Massacre: Genocide, Politics, Morality” at the Polish American Cultural Center, Slavic Village, Cleveland, Ohio …Sat., Nov 13th Stephanie brings her honky concertina sound for a Polish polka night at Kuzman’s in Girard.
Your PolishYoungstown Team