Poland asks Netflix to make changes to documentary about Nazi death camp guard

WARSAW (Reuters) - Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki has pressed Netflix, the U.S. streaming and production company, to make changes to a documentary that includes a map showing Nazi death camps inside the borders of modern Poland.

The camps were built by the Nazis on Polish soil during their brutal occupation of Poland in World War Two, but the map used in the documentary, Morawiecki said, implied that Poland existed at that time as an independent nation within its postwar borders and thus could share responsibility for the atrocities.

The map appears in a Netflix documentary series entitled “The Devil Next Door” that chronicles the story of John Demjanjuk, a retired U.S. carworker convicted by a German court in 2011 of having been a Nazi death camp guard during the war.

“There is no comment or any explanation whatsoever that these sites (on the map) were German-operated,” Morawiecki said in a letter to Reed Hastings, CEO of Netflix, dated Nov. 10 and published on the prime minister’s Facebook page on Monday.

“As my country did not even exist at that time as an independent state, and millions of Poles were murdered at these sites, this element of “The Devil Next Door” is nothing short of rewriting history,” he said.

Morawiecki said he believed the mistake was unintentional and that the company would swiftly correct it, either by modifying the map or providing further explanation to viewers.

Asked about the issue, a Netflix spokesperson told Reuters: “We are aware of the concerns regarding “The Devil Next Door” and are urgently looking into the matter.”

Poland is very sensitive to suggestions that it might share any complicity in Nazi crimes committed on its territory.

The ruling nationalist Law and Justice party (PiS) last year passed a law allowing courts to jail anybody who made such a suggestion, though it later watered down the legislation under U.S. pressure to remove the possibility of a prison term.

Poland was home to one of the world’s biggest Jewish communities before it was almost wiped out by the Nazis.

During decades of Soviet-imposed communist rule after World War Two, Poles were taught to believe that, with a few exceptions, the nation had conducted itself honorably during a war that killed a fifth of the population.

Many Poles still refuse to accept research showing that thousands of Poles participated in the Holocaust in addition to the thousands who risked their lives to help the Jews.

A German court convicted Ukrainian-born Demjanjuk in 2011 pending appeal as an accessory to the murder of 27,000 Jews at the Sobibor death camp in occupied Poland. He died in 2012 in a German nursing home aged 91 before his appeal could be heard.

Reporting by Anna Koper; Editing by Gareth Jones