Poland Outraged by Map in Neftlix Documentary on Nazi Death Camp Guard

Poland Outraged by Map in Neftlix Documentary on Nazi Death Camp Guard

A map on a Netflix series shows the Nazi death camps in the borders of present-day Poland.

Poland has reacted angrily to a map shown in a Netflix documentary series about a Nazi death camp guard, which is says implies Polish complicity in Holocaust atrocities.

The Netflix documentary resented by the Polish authorities is a series entitled “The Devil Next Door”. It tells the story of John Demjanjuk, a retired U.S. carworker convicted by a German court in 2011 of having been a Nazi death camp guard during World War II.

Ukrainian-born Demjanjuk died in 2012 in a German nursing home at the age of 91 before the court could hear his appeal of the sentence for having been an accessory to the murder of 27,000 Jews at the Sobibor death camp in occupied Poland.

Poland is enraged, however, that the Netflix series shows a map of Nazi death camps with the country’s present-day borders, arguing that this can be misconstrued as Polish complicity in the Holocaust crimes.

In a letter to Netflix CEO Reed Hastings, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki argued that the camps were built by the Nazis on Polish soil during their brutal occupation of Poland in World War Two, but the map used in the documentary implied that Poland existed at that time as an independent nation within its postwar borders and thus could share responsibility for the atrocities.

“There is no comment or any explanation whatsoever that these sites (on the map) were German-operated,” Morawiecki stated in his letter to Hastings dated November 10, as cited by TVN24.

“As my country did not even exist at that time as an independent state, and millions of Poles were murdered at these sites, this element of “The Devil Next Door” is nothing short of rewriting history,” he said.

Morawiecki said he believed the mistake was unintentional and that the company would swiftly correct it, either by modifying the map or providing further explanation to viewers.

“We are aware of the concerns regarding “The Devil Next Door” and are urgently looking into the matter,” a Netflix spokesperson told Reuters.

Suggestions of complicity in Nazi crimes on Polish territory is a highly sensitive topic in Poland.

So much so that in 2018, the ruling nationalist Law and Justice party (PiS) passed a law that anybody who made such a suggestion could go to prison for up to three years. Subsequently, the prison term was dropped under US pressure.

More than five million Polish citizenss were killed during World War Two, including up to three million Jews, were murdered in the Nazi Holocaust. The death camps on Polish territory were run by occupying German SS units.

However, there are some cases of Poles committing atrocities against Jews and other civilians during and after World War II, BBC News points out, reminding of Jedwabne, where in 1941 Polish villages, perhaps at the instigation of the Nazis, burned alive more than 300 Jews in a barn.

(Banner image: Polish Foreign Ministry on Twitter)

Ivan Dikov is a Bulgarian journalist and author. He studied political science / international relations and history at Dartmouth College and later in Sofia, in the Eastern Balkans. He’s served for five years as the editor-in-chief of Bulgaria’s largest English-language media – Novinite.com. As a freelancer, he has collaborated with media from the US, the UK, Germany, and Australia.

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