The Polish prime minister has accused Netflix of “re-writing history” and implying Polish guilt in the Holocaust in a new documentary series.
The programme about John Demjanjuk – a Ukrainian-American found guilty in 2011 of accessory to the murder of 27,800 Jews – prompted Mateusz Morawiecki to write a scolding letter to Reed Hastings, Netflix’s CEO, criticising the company’s apparent portrayal of Poland during the Second World War in The Devil Next Door.
Mr Morawiecki, in particular, took exception to a map used in the series that showed Nazi concentration camps within the borders of the modern Polish state when during the war Germany had wiped Poland from the map of Europe.
“Not only is the map incorrect but it deceives viewers into thinking Poland was responsible for establishing and maintaining these camps, and for committing the crimes therein,” wrote the prime minister.
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“The Devil Next Door is nothing short of re-writing history,” he added.
The series, Mr Morawiecki claimed, also was “hugely inaccurate and to an extent obfuscating historical fact and whitewashing actual perpetrators of these crimes.”
Mr Morawiecki’s reaction reflects acute sensitivities in Poland over anything, whether deliberate or accidental, that appears to imply Polish guilt in the Holocaust.
Last year the government, which has sought to portray itself as a zealous defender of Poland’s good name, provoked international controversy when it introduced a law making it a criminal offence to attribute Nazi crimes to Poles or the Polish nation.
Although the prime minister conceded that Netflix had made an unintentional mistake he also took to Facebook to spread his displeasure with the company by posting a map of Nazi-occupied Europe that he hoped it would use to “correct” its error.
He added that he had sent to Mr Hastings a wartime report written by Witold Pilecki, a Polish army officer who had volunteered to be sent to Auschwitz in order to monitor Nazi activity in the camp.
In his reports Capt. Pilecki provided some of the first first-hand accounts of the beginnings of the systematic and industrialised murder of Europe’s Jews. end
"We are aware of the concerns regarding The Devil Next Door and are urgently looking into the matter," a Netflix spokesperson said.