Auschwitz was the most notorious of the many Nazi concentration camps in World War II. More than one million people died there between 1940 and 1945, and one unfriendly Donald Trump supporter recently suggested that a journalist (who happens to be Jewish) should maybe hang out there instead of anywhere in America, which is about to be made great again.
Despite the fact that everyone is familiar with the place and the unspeakable things that happened there, public figures ranging from CNN reporters to the head of the FBI and, yes, even the President of the United States have mistakenly called Auschwitz a “Polish death camp” — thereby leading some to think that the Polish government and people were complicit despite the fact that Germany invaded the country in 1939 with the help of the Soviet Union and that 6 million Poles died during the war.
Now the Warsaw offices of FCB have taken steps to remedy this persistent bit of misinformation with a desktop app and corresponding video created to make sure that journalists and others stop using the offending phrase. The project was created in collaboration with the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum, which itself exists to make sure the entire world remembers exactly what happened there.
Here’s a case study video.
A little heavy for a Friday, but still important.
From the release:
“Since we discovered that many of these errors come from journalists, we’ve done specific outreach to share the app with journalists around the world to ensure that tight deadlines don’t reshape the historical accuracy of the atrocities of the Holocaust.”
Of course we couldn’t just take their word for it, so we downloaded the app, which works as advertised. The average Joe will not be adding “Remember” to his or her Dell desktop…but by targeting international journalists, the agency made sure the point got across to the relevant “influencers.”
One could see these efforts as heavy-handed, and we might argue that no journalist using the phrase “Polish death camp” intends to imply that the Polish government at the time actively conspired to murder millions of its own citizens. From an earlier report in Israel’s Haaretz:
“…the Remember project comes just days after the controversial effort by Poland’s new conservative right-wing government to impose penalties against those who use the offending turn of phrase. The details of the proposed change in the law have not been published, but in the past there have been attempts to subject offenders to five years in prison for those who use the phrase, as well as provisions to impose penalties on offending foreign journalists.
From the standpoint of Polish officials, at minimum there is a desire that reference be changed to ‘extermination camps in occupied Poland.'”
The top section of that quote is a little alarming. But we can certainly appreciate the sentiment at work here, and it’s very important that both current and future generations get the story right.
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