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List otwarty do redakcji radia Newstalk

List otwarty FORUM POLONIA, skierowany do redaktora naczelnego Newstalk w związku z opiniami dotyczącymi Polski, w świetle odbywających się obchodów 70 rocznicy wyzwolenia niemieckiego obozu koncentracyjnego Auschwitz-Birkenau w Oświęcimiu, wypowiadanymi przez Georga Hook’a w trakcie prowadzonej przez niego audycji 26 stycznia br. Zachęcamy inne organizacje polonijne i osoby indywidualne do podjecia podobnych dzialan. Tresc listu mozna kopiowac.

Dublin, 29.01.2015

 

Mr Garrett Harte

Newstalk Station Editor

 

Newstalk HQ
Marconi House
Digges Lane
Dublin 2

 

We are writing in relation to the recent comments made by Mr George Hook on the topic of Poland and Polish history during his radio show of January 26th (available at http://www.newstalk.com/player/shows/The_Right_Hook/9/16001/26th_January_2015_-_The_Right_Hook_Part_3).

Mr Hook expressed the opinion that, as a result of internal Polish politicking, Poland had not invited the President of the Russian Federation, Mr Vladimir Putin, to attend the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, thereby causing insult to Mr Putin.

We would like to point out that Poland did not send a full diplomatic invitation to any world leader. The International Auschwitz Council, organisers of this anniversary event, issued invitations to all countries that support the Auschwitz-Birkenau Foundation, including Russia. Russia officially confirmed that it would be represented by Deputy Prime Minister Mr Siergiej Iwanow. This was not a political event. Rather, it was a commemoration of the victims of this tragic period in Polish and world history.  

To our knowledge, Mr Hook made no effort to contact Polish officials or representatives of the Polish diaspora living in Ireland who would have been more than happy to clarify the facts of this matter. This is very disappointing. We also find it regrettable that, to the best of our knowledge, no Polish official was invited to join a discussion on an event that has such a central place in Polish history. The guest speaker on the show displayed somewhat limited knowledge of the matter and did not present a balanced view.

Mr Hook and his guest speaker made a number of statements which not only portrayed Poland and Poles in a negative light but were factually incorrect. For example, Mr Hook stated that the population of Warsaw walked by the Warsaw ghetto every day of the week, ignoring the appalling treatment of those behind the walls. He also stated that many Poles have conveniently ‘airbrushed’ their part in the Holocaust. No one can dispute the fact that terrible atrocities took place during WWII and that, in particular, the Jewish community was singled out for horrific treatment at the hands of the Nazi Germany. Atrocities were also committed by governments which collaborated with the Nazi Germany as well as by individuals, including Polish citizens. It must also be borne in mind, however, that Poles were also one of the largest groups of non-Jews that risked their lives to protect and save the lives of Jewish people during the Holocaust. They are thus known as “Righteous Among the Nations”. Poland lost more than 6 million of its citizens during WWII, half of whom were Jewish. To insinuate that Poles did nothing to try to stop the Nazis from committing such heinous crimes is an unjust generalisation. Such generalisations as were made by Mr Hook during the radio show are unwise. The facts were not interrogated as they should have been and there was no balance in the discussion.

            Mr Hook seemed to indicate that he does not believe Poland has a long and complex history and provided the case of Ireland as a counter-example. This is completely incorrect. Mr Hook did not acknowledge the fact that Poland was a sovereign kingdom between the 11th and 18th centuries. It then lost its independence but subsequently regained it at the turn of the 20th century, after almost 200 years of imperial rule by foreign powers. Poland’s history is rich, fascinating and worthy of further study, something we would highly recommend to all who are interested in the country and its people.

Finally, we would like to emphasise that we believe the gross misrepresentation of the facts, as they were presented on Mr Hook’s radio show on January 26th, has the potential to greatly damage the reputation of the Polish community in Ireland. Those in positions of responsibility, such as journalists, researchers and editors at radio stations, need to take greater care when researching the facts of any story before discussing it live on air.

We trust that, in future, the editorial board of Newstalk and Mr Hook himself will be more careful in what is said and discussed live on air, particularly in cases where the material has the potential to be damaging to particular groups of people – in this case, Poles, who currently comprise the largest national minority in Ireland.

 

Yours sincerely,

 Forum Polonia Steering Committee

 Contact person: Wojciech Kostka

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