July 27, 2004 - letter from private individual to CTV
Dear Mr. Hurst, President, CTV News
Re: Reference to "Polish" camps
As a long time viewer of CTV news I am dismayed by your reaction to an objection voiced by Poland's ambassador to a reference in an April 30 news item to the "Polish camp of Treblinka". I did not happen to catch that newscast, but had I, I would certainly have written earlier.
Not only is that description objectionable morally, it is indefensible from a historical point of view. It was the Nazi German invaders who established and operated their camps when they occupied Poland during World War II. Calling them Polish is misleading, because the primary connotation of that phrase is that the Poles had something to do with them.
Suggesting that it is being used merely to describe their geographical location is not persuasive. First of all, the location of the camp is not particularly germane to the story at hand. The important point is that it was a Nazi German camp. Secondly, Canadians on the whole are not well informed about historical matters. They may have heard about the
Holocaust of six million Jews, but few of them know the realities of the German occupation of Poland.
I did a bit of canvassing of my own and not one of several high school graduates I asked new what Treblinka was. When I asked them how they'd interpret "Polish camp of Treblinka", they said that it would be a camp built by Poles.
I think that the vast majority of people in the media recognize this fact. That is why I've seen corrections run in the press and on TV when Nazi German camps are described, inappropriately, as "Polish". Strangely, they're rarely, if ever, described simply as "German".
Hopefully, you'll come around to seeing the obvious. If not, I will make a point of not watching CTV news and will urge others to do likewise.