US Congressman apologises for suggesting Poland played a role in Holocaust

Steve Cohen, an American Congressman from Tennessee, apologised for implying, during a CNN television program “Anderson Cooper 360°”, that Poland played a role in the Nazi-German-orchestrated Holocaust. The program was broadcast on American television on May 24th.

During the program, Mr Cohen was asked to comment on the statements by Representative Marjorie Taylor Green, who compared wearing face masks during a pandemic to wearing the Star of David during WWII. While commenting on Ms Green’s words, Mr Cohen said that during the war, concentration camps were located not only in Germany but also in Poland.

The statement sparked protests of Polish organisations in the United States, and an immediate reaction from the Polish Ambassador to the United States, Mr Piotr Wilczek, who sent a letter to Congressman Cohen.

In his letter, Mr Wilczek emphasised that Congressman Cohen’s statement was inaccurate.

“I am compelled to point out that this statement is both historically and morally false. Poland remained under German occupation between the years 1939-1945. It is Nazi Germany that takes full responsibility for establishing death camps on occupied territories and for the systemic extermination of European Jewry during World War II. The official Polish government in-exile during the war was the first to reveal these atrocities and to call for Allied action to end the German killings.”

In response to Ambassador Wilczek’s letter, Congressman Cohen replied:

“Never did I intend to suggest that anyone of Polish descent or the former Polish government was involved in the conceptualization, creation, and the execution of the Holocaust. This was truly a Nazi entreprize… Please excuse my reference to Poland as a geography.”

Mr Cohen continued to say that a Polish Embassy’s video “Words Matter”, made him realise how careless words may distort historical truth:

“I have watched Polish Embassy’s video on “Words Matter” and how it is important to use the correct words when describing the German Nazi Camps. It’s not just the matter of semantics but the matter of historical integrity and accuracy.”

“I hold the Polish people in the highest regard,” added Mr Cohen.

Ambassador Wilczek thanked Congressman Cohen for his comprehensive reply:

Congressman Cohen retweeted Ambassador Wilczek’s reply on his Tweeter feed.