Software Deployed To Hunt Down Statements Implying Polish Responsibility For Nazi Atrocities

A civic group has launched new web software to discover online expressions that imply Poland was responsible for Nazi atrocities committed in Poland during World War II, while under Nazi occupation.

The computer program searches the internet for the abusive statements quicker than a manual search by volunteers in a worldwide network, reports Maciej Swirski, chairman of the Polish League Against Defamation. The new software is also reported on the League website.

The software has located more than 200 uses of expressions like the “Polish death camps,” the “Polish SS,” and the “Polish (Jewish) Ghetto.” These phrases were located in only one month and are mainly in the English and German language.

For decades the successive governments of Poland, as well as different organizations in Poland and abroad, have criticized that the use of such expressive language by foreign correspondents and foreign politicians – including US President Barack Obama – conveys the impression that it wasn’t the Nazis who ran concentration camps like Auschwitz, but rather it was the Poles.

Earlier this year the Auschwitz Museum in Poland offered an app to feature the expressions and to correct the offensive terms.

Maciej Swirski, chairman of the Polish League Against Defamation, says the new software system, which also searches Facebook and Twitter profiles, will assemble a database of individuals using this type of language so it can be determined whether these verbal and written incidents are an intentional effort to defame Poland or are actually slips of the tongue.

He acknowledges that the latter is quite often the circumstance, particularly when the subject material has been duplicated from elsewhere. But the consequences of these kinds of slurs have intensified since Poland’s nationalist government introduced a bill that will make any implication of Polish responsibility for the atrocities committed by the Nazis war machine a criminal offense, which, if convicted, will be punishable by a maximum of three years in jail, BBC News reported.

Some observers have questioned whether a criminal charge is going too far. It is a known fact that most people don’t use such phrases out of hatred, but rather out of ignorance.

As a reporter for the Rzeczpospolita newspaper once noted, almost every use of these irresponsible expressions has resulted in an apology.

Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE