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"Polish Concentration Camps". Misleading words

10-05-1999

"Polish Concentration Camps." The November 1998 issue of The Australian carried an article titled "Blessed Be Their Names," containing the following passage: "The beatification in 1971 of Maximilian Kolbe, who died in a Polish concentration camp in 1941, attracted controversy because of allegations that he had been guilty of anti-Semitism as a journalist before the war..." After a series of protests from the Central Council of Polish Organizations in Australia, the Australian Press Board ruled on May 14, 1999 (in favor of the Central Council) that the expression "Polish death camps" could mislead Australian readers, is offensive to Poles, and therefore violates the principles of Australian journalism.

In the previous year, Time magazine published a similar expression, but admitted its mistake and published a correction and apologies after protests from the Polish community. A similar situation arose in Canada in 1998, when the Canadian Polish Congress filed a complaint against The Ottawa Citizen, which had used an identical formulation (the complaint was upheld). The principles governing such cases in Australia do not require the publication of a correction, and The Australian did not publish one.

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