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July 29, 2012

On his trip to Poland, should Mitt Romney visit Auschwitz?

Filed under: Holocaust — Tags: , , — furtherglory @ 11:42 am

Update, 07/31/12: Mitt Romney visited the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Warsaw today. This is exactly the place that I would have suggested that he visit if he had asked my advice. He also visited the site of the new Holocaust Museum in Warsaw, which will open in 2013.

A post card photo of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is shown below, along with an old photo showing the bomb damage to this place during World War II.

Tomb of Unknown Soldier in Warsaw

Bomb damage to Tomb of Unknown Soldier

When I visited Poland for the first time in 1998, I stayed in Warsaw for a couple of days and the first place I went was to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.  You can read about it on my website here.

Update, 07/30/12:

According to Fox News, Mitt Romney has arrived in Poland and is now in Warsaw.  He was shown on the Fox TV news as he and his wife shook hands with Lech Walesa.  Some footage of the square in old town Warsaw was shown.  I recognized some of the buildings that I photographed in 1998.

Old Town in Warsaw, Poland

Since he is in Warsaw today and only plans to stay in Poland for two days, he will probably not go to Auschwitz.

Old Town Warsaw

I think that Romney’s decision to go to Warsaw, and not Krakow and Auschwitz, was a smart move on his part.  He’s got my vote!

Continue reading my original blog post:

According to Fox News, Mitt Romney is doing very well on his visit to Israel, making some points with Jewish voters.  His next stop will be Poland.  But why is Romney going to Poland?  Why not Germany?  America might need some help from Germany if the country goes any farther into debt. Obama has visited Germany several times, including a visit to the Buchenwald Memorial Site.

Why doesn’t Romney just go to Chicago, where the largest number of Polish-American voters are located?  Oh, wait a minute! Chicago is Obama’s old stamping ground. And it’s not the Polish-American vote that he is after, it is the Jewish vote.

The best city to visit in Poland, in my humble opinion, is Krakow, which has some beautiful historic sites.  Krakow is only 35 miles from Auschwitz, which brings up the big question — will Romney go to Auschwitz?

This quote is from an article on this website:

While Romney’s political intentions in both Britain (the Olympics) and Israel are clear, the reason for his visit to Poland is still somewhat obscure. In fact, the central reason for Romney’s plan to visit Poland has been kept totally under wraps to date.

It now seems likely that Romney’s visit to Poland is simply part B of his plan to challenge President Obama’s record on US support for Israel and the foreign policy of the Middle East.  By visiting Auschwitz, Romney may hope to upstage President Obama and his commitment to peace in the Middle East.  By politicizing the Holocaust, Romney and his mastermind, Sheldon Adelson, would appear to be launching their plan to manufacturing a deep schism within the American Jewish community that could influence the outcome of the November election.

[…]

On the other hand, if Romney visits Poland and does not visit Auschwitz – his campaign to divide the US Jewish community will be in tatters.  Therefore, it seems likely that the real reason for Romney’s visit to Poland will be part of the Adelson plan to capture a  higher proportion of the Jewish vote for the Republicans.

However, by playing the Holocaust card so clumsily and so politically, Romney would run the risk of setting off a tidal wave of criticism from the Jewish community – a firestorm that could boomerang and become incandescent in the USA.

On Romney’s trip to London, he made some remarks which offended the British. There is a grave danger that the same thing could happen in Poland.  Romney is probably not an expert on the Holocaust, and he could make a gaffe, like Obama did, by calling Auschwitz a “Polish death camp.”

If Romney does go to Auschwitz, his first stop will be the Auschwitz main camp, where every visiting official leaves flowers at the famous “Black Wall,” aka the Death Wall.  As he lays his wreath of flowers at the wall, Romney must be careful to say something in honor of the Polish political prisoners who lived and died in the main camp.  If he mentions only the Jews, the Polish people will be offended and his trip to Poland could turn into a disaster.

Recently Ziad al-Bandak, advisor for Christian relations to Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas, laid a bouquet of red and white flowers at the Auschwitz Death Wall. (Red and White are the colors of the Polish flag.) A photo of Ziad al-Bandak at the Death Wall is shown below.

If Romney goes to Poland, his next stop at the Auschwitz main camp will be the famous gas chamber.  I would suggest that he be completely silent as he stands inside the gas chamber.  This is a place where it is easy to make a stupid remark, which could be interpreted as “Holocaust denial.”  This would be the kiss of death for his election campaign.

For example, a person might say something stupid like “How could this be a gas chamber when it is not air tight, and it has a glass window in the door?”

The crematorium, that is right next to the gas chamber in the main camp, would be his next place to lay a bouquet of flowers.  The photo below shows Laura Bush doing this honor at Auschwitz.

Laura Bush puts a bouquet of flowers in the Auschwitz main camp crematorium

The next place for an official visit is the International Monument at the Birkenau camp.  The walk to the Monument is over a mile long, so Romney should be prepared.  Romney should be aware that it is easy to make a stupid remark, which would offend the Jews and end his career forever.

The photo below shows Attorney General Eric Holder putting flowers on the steps of the International Monument. (Click on the photo to enlarge)

Eric Holder at the International Monument at Auschwitz Photo credit: ttp://www.justice.gov/css-gallery/gallery-auschwitz.html#6

Flowers placed at the International Monument

The English language plaque at Birkenau

The plaques at the International Monument say that one and a half million people died at Auschwitz-Birkenau. This estimate was made by Lech Walesa.  The current estimate, given by the Auschwitz Museum is 1.1 million, of which 900,000 were Jews.

If Romney goes to Birkenau, he should be careful not to say something stupid like “What happened to the 4 million who died, according to the testimony given at the Nuremberg IMT?”

What I am trying to say here is that Romney should do some last minute study of Holocaust history on his flight to Poland, so that he doesn’t make any stupid mistakes.  My best advice would be to go to Warsaw, and not to Krakow and Auschwitz.