Ask The New York Times

To Change Its Stylebook


The New York Times continues to mislead its readers about German concentration camps.  In this weekend's Sunday Magazine, it even claims that Dachau, the notorious German concentration camp near Munich, is in Poland! The New York Times also refers to Auschwitz as a Polish concentration camp.

The only way that Times reporters and editors will stop making these mistakes is if the paper changes its stylebook, the official manual of style and usage, to require that stories about German concentration camps be historically accurate.

In 2007, UNESCO officially changed the name of Auschwitz to "The Auschwitz-Birkenau German Nazi Concentration and Extermination Camp (1940-1945)." The Kosciuszko Foundation has a petition on its web site requesting media outlets such as the Times to be historically accurate when writing about these camps.

Below is the latest letter that I have written to The New York Times, and on the right are e-mail addresses for the Times Publisher and a few of its editors. Please write to them and ask that they change their stylebook.



Dear Mr. Sulzberger:


The New York Times has parked its copy desk right over the threshold of malice and libel by refusing to be truthful about German concentration camps.  Today's New York Times magazine article "Yasir Qadhi: An American Cleric," has a photo caption which says: "Qadhi and other American Muslim clerics pray at the Dachau concentration camp in Poland last August."  Dachau has never been in Poland. Dachau is in Germany. It is near Munich. The Germans used Dachau to murder Jews, Polish political prisoners, and those who challenged the Nazis.



The New York Times could have easily avoided this mistake if it had followed our request to change its stylebook regarding German concentration camps.  More than 222,000 people have signed a petition on The Kosciuszko Foundation's web site requesting that the Times change its stylebook regarding German concentration camps. More names are added to this petition every day. 


It has already been signed by people such as Nobel Peace Prize winner Lech Walesa, Director of the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum, Piotr Cywinski; President of Poland Bronislaw Komorowski; Chief Rabbi of Poland Michael Schudrich; Dr. Zbigniew Brzezinski; Historian Norman Davies; David Harris, Executive Director of the American Jewish Committee; members of the United States Congress; Holocaust survivors; WWII veterans, Oscar winners, Pulitzer Prize winners, New Yorkers and people as far away as Poland, Israel and Australia. Yet still, The New York Times continues to rewrite history, and now it has redrawn the map of Europe.



Over the years, The New York Times has used the phrase "Polish concentration camp" to describe Auschwitz, a death camp designed by Germans, guarded by Germans, and which had the German phrase "Arbiet Macht Frei" hanging over the entrance. When the Germans installed the gas chambers, Auschwitz was part of "The Greater German Reich." Maps from the period 1939-45 show that this was part of Hitler's Germany that had expanded east.



Last October, the Times once again used the phrase "Polish concentration camp" to describe Auschwitz, but when the Polish Consul General in New York wrote to ask for a correction, Joseph Burgess from the NY Times' Office of the Public Editor, wrote back saying:  "Unfortunately, it seems that this will be unable to be corrected/changed."



This was a ridiculous statement and once it was pointed out to your editors that the Times had admitted its mistake and issued corrections about this in the past - in the print edition and on the Internet - a correction was made to that story.



But must The New York Times really continue to play this game? These mistakes can be avoided by simply changing The New York Times stylebook regarding German Nazi concentration camps. At this point, refusal to change your stylebook represents a conscious choice to continue slandering Poles and Poland.



Please prove me wrong by doing the right thing and changing your stylebook to reflect historical accuracy.





Alex Storozynski

President & Executive Director

The Kosciuszko Foundation

15 East 65th Street

New York, NY 10065



The New YOrk Times

Arthur Sulzberger

Chairman & Publisher 


Bill Keller 

Executive Editor

Jill Abramson

Managing Editor


Philip Corbett

Deputy News Editor

& Style Manual   


Arthur Brisbane

Public Editor