Krakow, Poland – Netflix said it would add information to the documentary on Nazi German death camps, days after public criticism from Poland, AFP reported on Thursday.
Claiming that the documentary “rewrote history” because it featured an “incorrect” map, Poland’s prime minister Mateusz Morawiecki had written a letter to the popular US streaming and production website, arguing that a map of Nazi-run concentration camps falsely suggested that Poland was in charge of them.
“Mistakes are not always made of bad will”
“Not only is the map incorrect, but it deceives viewers into believing that Poland was responsible for establishing and maintaining the camps, and for committing crimes therein,” Morawiecki said in the letter to Netflix boss Reed Hastings posted on his official Facebook page on Monday.
“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 added.
The said map featured in “The Devil Next Door” documentary shows death camps built by Nazi Germany during World War II inside the borders of modern-day Poland, that were established only after the end of the war, when, in fact, Nazi Germany set up the camps inside territory it occupied following its September 1939 invasion of Poland.
“In order to provide more information to our members about the important issues raised in this documentary and to avoid any misunderstanding… we will be adding text to some of the maps featured in the series,” Netflix said in a statement published on its Polish Twitter site. “This will make it clearer that the extermination and concentration camps in Poland were built and operated by the German Nazi regime who invaded the country and occupied it from 1939-1945”.
A Netflix spokeswoman was careful to add on Thursday that the move was a response to complaints from subscribers rather than from the Polish prime minister.
The Polish government nevertheless welcomed the decision by the online streaming service, reports the BBC. “Mistakes are not always made of bad will, so it is worth talking constructively about correcting them,” Morawiecki wrote in a Facebook post.
“Polish death camps”
In 2012, Barack Obama made an “uncharacteristic” gaffe that set off a diplomatic crisis when he referred to the death camps of the World War II as “Polish” – and not “Nazi” – death camps.
The issue is indeed a very sensitive one in the country and has even fostered tensions between Poland, the U.S. and Israel. They reached their peak last year when the Polish government passed the so-called “Holocaust law” criminalizing the attribution of Nazi Germany’s crimes during World War II to Poland and Poles, which includes the use of the phrase “Polish death camps”.
Although the bill was eventually watered down under pressure from the U.S. and Israel, many observers highlight the continued rise of anti-Semitic and Holocaust revisionism discourse from Polish officials.
In February, the Polish prime minister cancelled a trip to Jerusalem, where he was supposed to attend a summit with Visegrad Group leaders and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, after the latter’s controversial remarks about the collaboration of some Polish people with Nazi Germany during the war.
This issue has remained at the forefront of Polish public debate this amid mounting controversies and growing tensions over demands, pushed by Israel and the United States, that Poland pay reparations for former Jewish properties that were looted by Nazi Germany and nationalized by the communist regime after the war.
The Netflix documentary “The Devil Next Door” tells the true story of John Demjanjuk, a Ukrainian-American car worker who was accused of being the infamous Nazi concentration camp guard known as “Ivan the Terrible” at the Treblinka death camp, an extermination camp built and operated by Nazi Germany in occupied Poland during the war.
He was eventually convicted of helping to murder 28,000 Jews at Sobibor, another death camp in occupied Poland, before dying in Germany in 2012 while appealing against his conviction for war crimes.