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Auschwitz Survivor appeals to Jewish World to Correct Error

December 01, 2006

What bothers Michael Preisler most these days is “the careless way Holocaust history is treated and the misinformation the American public is given.”

As a Polish Catholic who survived more than three years of German brutality in Auschwitz, he has a personal and special memory of what really took place there.  Not only did he survive Auschwitz, he also survived the “death march” out of the camp just days before it was liberated in January, 1945.

Preisler is currently co-chair of the Holocaust Documentation Committee of the Polish American Congress.  One of the activities consuming so much of his committee’s time is the correction of inaccurate statements the media repeatedly make about Poland and the Polish people.

One of the worst it ever came across was early last year when a newspaper on New York’s Long Island, The Jewish World, misquoted an article which originally appeared in a British publication.

The British writer reported that most of Hitler’s SS guards escaped prosecution for the crimes they committed at Auschwitz. Only a small number of German guards was ever brought to justice and when they were eventually put on trial, it was the Poles who prosecuted these Germans.

The Jewish World, however, misrepresented the British article and made it seem the SS guards finally prosecuted were not German but Polish.

As unbelievable and ridiculous as the misstatement is, the Holocaust Documentation Committee felt The Jewish World should print a correction. The Committee’s Director of Research, Charles Chotkowski, routinely contacts publications who may have published an inaccurate statement and gets them to issue a retraction.  And this is what he requested from The Jewish World.

Unfortunately, The Jewish World would not respond to Chotkowski’s request nor to any of his subsequent attempts to contact the editor.

But Michael Preisler was of the opinion an Auschwitz survivor like him should be able to persuade The Jewish World how wrong it was to mislead its readers into believing the SS guards prosecuted for their atrocities in Auschwitz were mostly Polish instead of German.

He sent the following letter to The Jewish World:
Mr. Jerome Wm. Lippman
Publisher & Editor-in-Chief
Jewish World
1l5 Middle Neck Road
Great Neck, N.Y. 11021
Dear Sir:
I am writing to you as a Polish Catholic survivor of Auschwitz and also as Co-Chair of the Holocaust Documentation Committee of the Polish American Congress.
After the Jewish World published a defamatory misrepresentation of the Poles in Auschwitz in the January 21-27 edition, our Director of Research wrote to you and made several attempts to speak with you about printing a retraction of your erroneous report. Despite the fact this misrepresentation was an insidious libel of everyone like me who was a prisoner of Hitler’s SS in Auschwitz, the Jewish World  did not even give our Director the courtesy of an answer.
The matter at issue is an article you published by David Horovitz, “OUR OWN WORST ENEMIES.”  Mr. Horovitz made reference to another article by Laurence Rees which previously appeared in the UK Guardian.  In it, Mr. Rees noted, “Of the 6500 members of the SS who worked at Auschwitz between 1940 and 1945 and are thought to have survived the war, only about 750 were prosecuted, the vast majority by the Poles.”

Mr. Rees clearly stated that it was the Poles who conducted most of the prosecutions against the Nazi guards.  But in the Jewish World, Mr. Horovitz twists these words and reverses everything by declaring, “Of the 6500 SS members... just 750 were ever put on trial, and most of them were Poles.”

Having suffered at the hands of the German SS in Auschwitz, it is understandable why we Poles would seek justice and prosecute those who made us their victims.  But you do a great injustice to us and to your readers when you wrongfully misstate the facts and say we were the ones who had been prosecuted for being the SS guards.   There were no Polish SS guards in Auschwitz.

For many years, I have personally appeared before various groups and lectured about the Polish and the Christian experience during the Holocaust.

Because of the existence of so many Holocaust deniers, it is essential that those of us who speak or write about this tragic period of history make truth and accuracy our most important objective.  We cannot allow any of these deniers to claim that Holocaust testimony is given by liars.

I hope you can realize how much aid and comfort you give the deniers when you permit such Holocaust dishonesty on your pages.  In face of our committee’s appeal for you to publish a correction, you have been unresponsive and seem to be willing to let this falsehood  remain and mislead your readers in the direction of an unjustified anti-Polish prejudice.

I have advised my committee to persist in obtaining the truth from you, even at this late date.  And I am quite sure there are many in the Jewish community who are just as concerned about Holocaust dishonesty as we are and would join us in demanding that the Jewish World not promote it.
Please let me know when the correction will be appearing in your newspaper.

Yours truly,
Michael Preisler, 
Auschwitz No. 22213