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August 12, 2022



Poland: German television series sued for scenes depicting Polish anti-Semitism during WWII

20.7.2016 7:17
A copy of a German photograph taken during the destruction of the Warsaw Ghetto.
A copy of a German photograph taken during the destruction of the Warsaw Ghetto.

The Polish newspaper Gazeta Wyborcza reports that on 18 July the civil trial began at a court in Kraków of the producers of a German television series set during the Second World War and German television station ZDF. A Polish veterans' association and Zbigniew Radlowski, now 92 years old, who was a Polish resistance fighter during the war, have sued the producers of the television program over scenes depicting Polish anti-Semitism.

The plaintiffs are demanding that an apology be broadcast by all television stations that have shown the series and are also demanding compensation in the amount of 25 000  złoty (approximately EUR 6 000). "I was outraged, I consider the film to be a falsification," testified Radlowski, who participated in the Warsaw Uprising in 1944 and was imprisoned in Auschwitz concentration camp.

"I had the feeling the creators of the program are doing their best to place some of the blame for the Holocaust on the Poles," Radlowski told the court. His attorney, Monika Brzozowska, highlighted particular scenes that give the impression that Polish people sold food to resistance fighters from the Home Army on the condition that none of it be given to Jewish people.

In another scene, Home Army soldiers attack a train transporting prisoners but do not free them "because they are Jews, and those are worse than the Communists". The plaintiffs believe the series should include a warning prior to each broadcast as to who was to blame for the Holocaust.

The lawsuit was supported by the Polish prosecutor's office. Judge Kamil Grzesik refused a request by ZDF attorneys that the lawsuit be dismissed because a Polish court would not be an appopriate venue for the case.

Outrage was also sparked in the courtroom when representatives of Polish Television sought payment of 849 zloty (approximately EUR 200) for the screening of parts of the series in court. The series, entitled "Unsere Mütter, unsere Väter" ("Our Mothers, Our Fathers"), depicts the war from the perspective of ordinary Germans, five friends living in Berlin.

The series was broadcast in the Czech Republic under the title "Válečná generace" (English title "Generation War"). In April a court in Kraków dismissed a different lawsuit against ZDF for its use of the expression "Polish death camps" to refer to the Nazi extermination camps in occupied Poland because the German television station had already apologized for the phrasing.

ČTK, voj, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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