Netflix Plans to Amend Holocaust Film After Poland Complains

Lucas Shaw

(Bloomberg) -- Netflix Inc. agreed to amend its documentary series “The Devil Next Door” after Poland’s prime minster complained that it falsely suggested that his nation’s government ran Nazi death camps during World War II.

The company said in a statement that plans to add text to “The Devil Next Door” episodes to “avoid any misunderstanding,” after Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said a map used in the series should make it clear that camps currently located within the nation’s borders were operated by the Nazis in “German-occupied Poland.”

In an official letter to Netflix Chief Executive Officer Reed Hastings earlier this week, Morawiecki called out the streaming giant for making “a terrible mistake” in the five-part series. The show focuses on John Demjanjuk, a retired Ford Motor Co. auto mechanic who was stripped of his U.S. citizenship and convicted by a German criminal court for aiding in the murder of Jews during the Holocaust.

The series showed a map of death camps that said they were located in Poland, using the country’s current borders, which were set after World War II.

The Polish government has repeatedly pushed for commentary on the death camps to label them as being operated by the Nazis in “German-occupied Poland,” because the eastern European nation had no government of its own on its home soil after the invasion of Adolf Hitler’s forces.

“Not only is the map incorrect, but it deceives viewers into believing that Poland was responsible for establishing and maintaining these camps,” Morawiecki wrote, saying he believed it was an “unintentional” mistake. “Today, we still owe this truth to the victims of World War II.”

Morawiecki enclosed a 1942 map in the letter, which was backed by a comment from the Auschwitz Memorial saying that “more accuracy” should have been expected from the production.

Netflix said Thursday that it’s “hugely proud” of the filmmakers and their work, but it wanted to avoid confusion.

Clarifying Map

“In the coming days, we will be adding text to some of the maps featured in the series,” the company said. “This will make it clearer that the extermination and concentration camps in Poland were built and operated by the German Nazi regime who invaded the country and occupied it from 1939-1945.”

Variety reported earlier that Netflix would make changes to the series.

“Morawiecki’s success. Netflix gave in,” hailed Poland’s best-selling tabloid Fakt. The Premier’s chief of staff, Michal Dworczyk, tweeted: “This is how we take care of the historical truth!”

This isn’t the first time Netflix has run afoul of a foreign government for its nonfiction programming. The service took down an episode of the show “Patriot Act” in Saudi Arabia after complaints from the government.

(Updates with reaction from Polish government in penultimate paragraph.)

--With assistance from Maciej Martewicz and Wojciech Moskwa.

To contact the reporter on this story: Lucas Shaw in Los Angeles at lshaw31@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Nick Turner at nturner7@bloomberg.net, Peter Blumberg

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