The very language used to describe historical Nazi concentration camps in German-occupied Poland is, perhaps unsurprisingly, a touchy subject. A few years back, even President Obama landed himself in hot water for misspeaking on the subject.
But according to the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum, journalists are among the worst offenders when it comes to using incorrect terms like "Polish death camp" and "Polish concentration camp" to describe Holocaust sites run by Nazis on Polish soil during World War II.
To help writers and editors avoid such phrases—which might suggest official Polish complicity in the mass murder of Jews—the museum and agency FCB Warsaw created software that flags such errors in popular programs like Microsoft Office, TextEdit, Keynote, Outlook and Safari.
Titled "Remember," the app is currently designed to find errors in 16 languages, with plans to further expand its scope.
It's a powerful, simple and, most importantly, constructive way to address the issue among a demographic—members of the media—whose word choice, good or bad, will echo to a wider audience. And while the distinction might seem trivial to some, it's a critical one.
In reality, Germans killed at least 1.9 million non-Jewish Poles during the occupation (depending on different estimates), including priests, intellectuals and political activists, part of a systematic effort to decimate what Nazi leaders saw as an inferior race.
Polish resistance fighters, meanwhile, worked to save members of the country's Jewish population, and killed other Poles who helped German occupiers target Jews.
Thus, it's easy to see why the country's modern leaders might take it personally when U.S. dignitaries suggest Poland collaborated with the Nazis. Unfortunately, the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum doesn't currently have an app that helps catch less precise forms of ignorance.
Client: Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum
Museum Director: Dr Piotr M. A. Cywiński
Creative Agency: FCB Warsaw
Senior Art Director: Wojciech Szpor
Senior Copywriter: Czesio Plawgo
Creative Director: Gosia Drozdowska
Creative Director: Agnieszka Klimczak
Client service: Agnieszka Heidrich
Media Agency: Mint Media
App Developer: Mint Media
App Developer: Macoscope