Here’s an incomplete list of Poland’s suffering since 1939, cobbled together from memory and the interwebs.
• Invaded by Nazi Germany, in the first blitzkrieg.
• Warsaw was the first major city to endure terror bombing.
• Eastern Poland invaded by Soviet Union, and annexed.
• Katyn Forest Massacre, in which 20,000 officers — “the pride of Polish manhood” — were killed by Stalin’s order. The idea was to ensure Poland could never rise up again.
• 90% of Polish Jewry — more than three million — wiped out in Hitler’s Holocaust.
• Millions deported to Stalin’s GULAG.
• Millions of Poles removed from their lands in the West to make room for German immigrants.
• Germany’s “General Government” in rump Poland was perhaps the most brutal of all occupation governments in Europe.
• Forced labor in Nazi war plants.
• Warsaw Uprising brutally smashed by the Nazis, as the Red Army sat and watched.
• Suppression of Polish culture, including destruction of monuments and libraries.
• Warsaw suffered more damage than any other European city during six years of war.
• Poland served as the home to most of Germany’s most fearsome death camps, including Auschwitz.
• Six million Poles, Catholic and Jewish, killed in the war.
• Poland did not regain its prewar population level until the 1970s.
• After the war, Stalin imposed a brutal Communist regime on the nation, which lasted for 45 years.
Despite all of this, it was two Poles — Lech Walesa and Pope John Paul II — who did more than any other European leaders to lead the moral crusade against Communist oppression in Europe.
So to every Pole in Europe, to any Pole anywhere in the world, these things matter. You cannot use the phrase “Polish death camp” without offending tens of millions of Poles. There were no Polish death camps. The Poles were the ones, by and large, in the Nazi and Soviet death camps. And yet, that’s exactly what the author of “smart diplomacy” said last night, at a ceremony that was supposed to honor WWII Polish underground leader Jan Karski.
And yes, dammit, the remarks were prepared. Teh Won, The Smartest Man Ever to Be Elected President™, read “Polish death camp” directly off his teleprompter.