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Advocate General of the CJEU: a former prisoner of Auschwitz may seek justice for the term “Polish death camps”

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A former prisoner of Auschwitz can seek justice for the use of the phrase “Polish camps” in German media, even if they did not mention him by name, said Michał Bobek, spokesman of the Court of Justice of the European Union.

Opinion of the Advocate General Court of Justice of the European Union Michał Bobek concerns a preliminary reference submitted by a court in Warsaw. It concerns a case from 2017, when the German regional news portal Mittelbayerische.de used the phrase “she was murdered in the Polish extermination camp Treblinka” in one of the articles.

The described person was the sister of Stanisław Zalewski, an Auschwitz survivor, president of the Polish Association of Former Political Prisoners of Hitler’s Prisons and Concentration Camps.


Zalewski asked the Warsaw court to order Mittelbayerische to publish a correction, apologize for infringement of personal rights, pay 50,000 zlotys to PZBWOK and prohibit the use of the terms “Polish extermination camp” or “Polish concentration camp” to describe German camps in the territory of conquered Poland .

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The publisher of the portal – Mittelbayerischer Verlag – demanded that the claim be dismissed, arguing that the case did not fall under the jurisdiction of the Polish court and that Zalewski was not mentioned in the article by name and surname. Attention was also paid to the regional profile of the portal’s activities, which mainly covers the Upper Palatinate and focuses on news provided exclusively in German.

In 2019, the Warsaw District Court dismissed the request of Mittelbayerischer Verlag to dismiss the claim. As a result, the question about a binding interpretation of EU law was referred to the European Court of Justice.

Advocate General Michał Bobek, who was informed by Deutsche Welle, assessed that EU law does not prevent a former prisoner of Auschwitz from seeking protection of his personal rights in the context of statements about “Polish extermination camps” even in foreign press materials, in which there was no “individually identified”. He also indicated that the decision in this case rested with the court dealing with the specific case.

DW said that the spokesman of the CJEU also referred to the jurisprudence of Polish courts, “in which the catalog of protected personal rights includes national identity and the right to respect the truth about the history of the nation.”

READ MORE: Violation of personal rights by using the term “Polish death camps” – legal arguments of the Human Rights Defender

A former prisoner of Auschwitz said: one must not be shouted at that it was a mistake

The case of similar claims was the subject of the decision of the appellate court in Kraków in December 2016. The court then found that the wording “Polish death camps” in the material from 2013 of the German public television ZDF violated personal rights Karol Tendera, a former prisoner of Auschwitz. The judges also pointed out that the term was “a historical lie”.

– I was in three camps and Germans, not Poles, were hanged, beaten, tortured and burned in all of them. Do not let yourself be shouted out that it was a mistake, I will not accept it and I will not agree to it. This is a deliberate falsification of history. I expect the court to impose a dam on it, I hope that such a public apology and court ban will help – said a former Auschwitz prisoner in 2016, before the sentence was announced. Tendera won the trial a few years before his death, he died in 2019.

ZDF must apologize to Karol Tendera (video from 2017)TVN24

PAP, Deutsche Welle, tvn24.pl

Main photo source: concrete24

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