Poland reacts angrily to Netflix Nazi death camp documentary

‘Maybe for Netflix mistakes in documentaries are insignificant, but for Poles they are of fundamental importance’, Polish PM says

Vincent Wood
Tuesday 12 November 2019 11:37
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The Devil Next Door trailer

The Prime Minister of Poland has complained to the head of Netflix after a documentary on the streaming platform placed Nazi concentration camps within the nation’s modern-day borders.

In a letter to the streaming giant’s CEO Reed Hastings, Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki accused new series The Devil Next Door of being “hugely inaccurate” - arguing that by marking the Nazi camps as within Polish borders, as opposed to within annexed Germany territory, the Netflix Original show had implied the nation was responsible for them.

It comes as Poland pushes back strongly on any implication the country was in any way involved in the Holocaust, going as far as to introduce laws criminalising assertions that Poland was responsible for the atrocities perpetrated by Nazi Germany.

Six million Polish citizens were killed by the Nazis during World War Two – including three million Polish Jews who died in concentration camps.

Over the course of the war 18 per cent of Poland’s population were killed, as well as 90 per cent of its Jewish population.

“Poland was a victim of unimaginable German crimes during World War II” Mr Morawiecki said, “Maybe for Netflix mistakes in documentaries are insignificant, but for Poles they are of fundamental importance.”

In his letter, he added: “Not only is the map incorrect, but it deceives viewers into believing that Poland was responsible for establishing and maintaining these camps, and for committing the crimes therein.”

A spokesperson for Netflix said: "We are aware of the concerns regarding The Devil Next Door and are urgently looking into the matter."

Aired in Poland as Iwan Groźny z Treblinki – or Ivan the Terrible of Treblinka – the show centres around John Demjanjuk, a Ukrainian national who was accused of visiting barbaric acts of torture on Jewish detainees in Nazi death camps.

Poland’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs wrote on Twitter: “During the time which the The Devil Next Door series describes, Poland’s territory was occupied, and it was Nazi Germany which was responsible for the camps.

“The map shown in the series does not reflect the actual borders at that time."

The country’s stringent restrictions against attributing blame to it for the crimes of Holocaust – which initially came with a three year prison sentence - comes despite some instances of Polish atrocities against Jews during World War Two.

In 1941 the Jedwabne pogrom saw the massacre of at least 340 Jews by around 40 Polish men, under the watchful eye of German SS and military policemen. Of the dead, 300 were locked inside a barn that was set on fire.

Academics dispute the level of involvement German officials had in the atrocity.

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