BBC didn't translate Polish President's Auschwitz event speech

‘Speaks own language’: BBC is blasted for failing to translate subtitles during Polish President’s speech at historic Auschwitz 75th anniversary event – 24 hours after Kobe Bryant blunder

  • Andrzej Duda addressed 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz event
  • The BBC’s coverage did not subtitle his speech as he spoke in Oswiecim, Poland
  • Instead of translating his words, ‘speaks own language’ was written underneath
  • During his address President Duda said ‘the magnitude of the terrifying’

The BBC has been criticised for not subtitling the words of the Polish president during an address at the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. 

Instead of writing what Andrzej Duda was saying on the screen during the address in Poland today, text saying ‘speaks own language’ was written underneath.

President Duda told the audience in Oswiecim, where the Nazi death camp was built and saw more than a million people killed before being liberated by the Soviet army in 1945, that the ‘the magnitude of the crime perpetrated…is terrifying’.

He told those at the commemoration, which included the German president as well as Jewish, Christian and Muslim leaders: ‘We have with us the last living survivors, the last among those who saw the Holocaust with their own eyes.

‘The magnitude of the crime perpetrated in this place is terrifying, but we must not look away from it and we must never forget it.’

The BBC subtitling blunder comes a day after the corporation showed footage of LeBron James instead of Kobe Bryant during a piece about the basketball star’s death in a helicopter crash in California yesterday. 

Twitter users, including late Labour commentator and author, Harry Leslie Smith’s son John, criticised the the BBC for not translating the speech.

Instead of broadcasting subtitles, the BBC wrote ‘speaks own language’ as the the camera panned to the audience as Polish president Andrzej Duda spoke 

He wrote: ‘How BBC couldn’t find a polish translator for the President of Poland’s speech at #HolocaustRemembranceDay until half way through it, just stupefies me.’

Another social media user said: ‘How f***ing insulting that the @BBC @BBCNews @BBCNewsChannel chooses to talk over the Polish Prime Minister’s speech from Auschwitz. Using poxy excuse ‘we don’t have a translator’… so what!! @SkyNews show it properly. #BBCNews #AfternoonLive #Auschwitz75.’

Around 200 camp survivors attended the event, many of them elderly Jews and non-Jews who had travelled from Israel, the US, Australia, Peru, Russia, Slovenia and elsewhere.

Many lost parents and grandparents in Auschwitz and other Nazi death camps during the Second World War, but were joined by children, grandchildren and even great-grandchildren.

They gathered under an enormous, heated tent straddling the train tracks that transported people to Birkenau, the part of the vast complex where most of the murdered Jews were killed in gas chambers and then cremated. Auschwitz was liberated by the Soviet army on January 27, 1945.

World leaders gathered in Jerusalem last week to mark the anniversary in what many saw as a competing observance. 

Polish President Andrzej Duda speaking during the main commemoration ceremony in front of the so-called ‘Gate of Death’ of the former Auschwitz II-Birkenau camp today

(L-R) Queen Maxima of the Netherlands, King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands, Polish President Andrzej Duda and his wife Agata Kornhauser-Duda, Philippe of Belgium, Queen Mathilde of Belgium and Henri, Grand Duke of Luxembourg at the 75th Auschwitz event  

Among them were Russian President Vladimir Putin, US vice president Mike Pence, French President Emmanuel Macron and the Prince of Wales.

Politics intruded on that event, with Duda boycotting it in protest after Mr Putin claimed Poland played a role in triggering the Second World War. 

The Polish leader had wanted a chance to speak before or after Putin to defend his nation’s record, but he was not given a speaking slot in Jerusalem.

Duda told the audience: ‘Distorting the history of World War II, denying the crimes of genocide and negating the Holocaust as well as an instrumental use of the Auschwitz for whatever purposes is tantamount to desecration of the memory of the victims. Truth about the Holocaust must not die.’

Those claims comes as many eastern European countries in recent years have been mythologising their own people’s behaviour during the war and suppressing knowledge of wrongdoing, something Poland’s government has been criticised for.

Among others attending the observances at Auschwitz, which is in the part of southern Poland that was occupied by Germany during the war, were German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orban, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy and Israeli President Reuven Rivlin.

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