Days after public criticism from Poland’s prime minister, Netflix said that it will modify some of the maps shown in the new documentary series, “The Devil Next Door,” to clarify that concentration camps shown within the boundaries of modern-day Poland were built and operated by Nazi Germany.
A Netflix spokeswoman said on Thursday that the company will not alter the maps themselves, but will add text saying that the camps were run by the Nazi regime, which invaded the country in 1939 and occupied it until 1945. She was careful to say that the move was a response to complaints from subscribers rather than from the prime minister, Mateusz Morawiecki, who sent a letter to Netflix’s chief executive earlier this week saying the maps should be modified because they falsely suggested that Poland operated the camps.
The true-crime series, released last week, focuses on the case of John Demjanjuk, a retired autoworker from the Cleveland area who was put on trial in Israel in the 1980s after he was accused of being a notoriously cruel guard at the Nazi-run concentration camps. Some of the maps in the five-episode series showed modern-day Polish boundaries, labeled “Poland,” with geographical markers for death camps such as Sobibor and Treblinka, sites where Demjanjuk is said to have worked.
The Netflix spokeswoman said that five maps showing modern-day Polish boundaries would be altered to include further context. The maps were taken from United States and Israeli television coverage of Demjanjuk’s trial in the 1980s, when he was convicted of crimes against humanity and sentenced to be hanged. The Israeli Supreme Court later overturned the decision.
While Netflix does not believe the maps to be incorrect, as Mr. Morawiecki claimed in his letter, the spokeswoman said that the company’s addition of text will “not leave any room for misunderstanding.” Netflix hopes to have the documentary series modified in a couple of days and will not be removing episodes from the platform during that process.
The Polish Embassy in Washington did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The documentary series takes viewers through Demjanjuk’s case using footage from his televised trial in Israel. It shows testimony from survivors of Treblinka, who identified Demjanjuk as the brutal Ukrainian guard known as Ivan the Terrible, while Demjanjuk maintained that it was a case of mistaken identity. Demjanjuk died in 2012 while he was appealing a conviction in Germany.
In his letter, dated Sunday, Mr. Morawiecki said that the map was a “terrible mistake” and whitewashed the “actual perpetrators” of the Holocaust. The controversy touches on a sensitive topic for Poland, which passed a law last year making it illegal to accuse “the Polish nation” of complicity in the Holocaust, prompting claims that the nationalist government was trying to whitewash its history.
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