To the editor:
The (Catholic News Service) article in the June Catholic Courier concerning the recent visit of Pope Benedict XVI to Poland and the Nazi death camps was on the whole well-written, but there were at least two misconceptions.
The writer states, “While the Nazis targeted Jews first ‚Ä¶” This is incorrect. The Nazis targeted Poland and its population when they attacked the country on September 1, 1939. It was to exterminate the Polish people that the death camps were constructed and exterminating Poles was what the Nazis proceeded to do.
It was not until Hitler decided on his “Final Solution to the Jewish problem” that deportation and death for the Jewish people began much later!
The writer concludes “While emphasizing the importance of Pope Benedict’s visit, several Jewish leaders were critical of his emphasis on the sufferings of Poles in the camps.”
Just over one week ago we laid to rest a survivor of Auschwitz and other camps, a Pole and a Catholic, who was seized on the streets of Warsaw in 1942. I had been speaking about him with an aide who was helping me to take care of my husband, also a Pole and a Catholic and a 5-¬Ω year ex-prisoner of war in Germany and Holland.
“Oh” said the young person. “I thought that the Holocaust was only against the Jews!” I assured her that this was not the case and that Poland had lost one-quarter to one-third of its entire population because of the war.
The Holy Father rightly laid emphasis on the sufferings of Poles in the death camps.