Netflix to amend Devil Next Door series after Poland complaint


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Auschwitz-Birkenau was the most notorious death camp built in Nazi-occupied Poland

Netflix has said it will amend a documentary series that showed maps of Nazi concentration camps after a complaint by Poland’s prime minister.

Mateusz Morawiecki said The Devil Next Door series had maps with death camps within modern-day Poland’s borders.

The maps implied Poland was responsible for the death camps, when in fact it was occupied by Nazi Germany in World War Two, he said.

Netflix said it would change the maps “to avoid any misunderstanding”.

The Polish government has welcomed the decision by the online streaming service.

Mr Morawiecki thanked Netflix in a Facebook post, writing (in Polish): “Mistakes are not always made of bad will, so it is worth talking constructively about correcting them.”

Germany invaded Poland in 1939, which marked the beginning of the war.

The Germans built concentration and death camps in occupied Poland, with the largest at Auschwitz-Birkenau, where 1.1 million people were murdered, most of them Jews.

A spokesman for Netflix told the BBC that additional text would be added to the maps shown in The Devil Next Door to reflect this historical context.

The decision was made after considering complaints from the Polish prime minister and many Polish Netflix members, the spokesman said.

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Netflix said it will make changes to maps on the documentary to “avoid any misunderstanding”

“We are hugely proud of The Devil Next Door and stand by its filmmakers, their research and their work,” Netflix said in a statement.

“In order to provide more information to our members about the important issues raised in this documentary and to avoid any misunderstanding, in the coming days we will be adding text to some of the maps featured in the series.

“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.”

Poland’s foreign ministry thanked Netflix for its reaction, adding it hoped the company’s future productions would pay “due attention to historical truth”.

The Devil Next Door tells the true story of John Demjanjuk, a Ukrainian-American car worker who was accused of being an infamous Nazi concentration camp guard called “Ivan the Terrible” at the Treblinka death camp, an extermination camp built and operated by Nazi Germany in occupied Poland during the war.

Demjanjuk insisted it was a case of mistaken identity and his conviction was overturned.

He was eventually convicted of helping to murder 28,000 Jews at Sobibor, another death camp in occupied Poland.

He died in Germany in 2012 while appealing against his conviction for war crimes.

Earlier this week, Mr Morawiecki wrote a letter to Reed Hastings, the CEO of Netflix, accusing the programme about Demjanjuk of being “hugely inaccurate” and “rewriting history”.

In the letter, Mr Morawiecki said it was important to “honour the memory and preserve the truth about World War II and the Holocaust”.

Last year, Poland introduced laws criminalising language implying Polish responsibility for the atrocities committed by Nazi Germany.

However, an international outcry prompted the government to remove the threat of three-year jail terms.

More than five million Poles were killed during World War Two, including up to three million Jews who were murdered in the Nazi Holocaust. The death camps were planned and operated by occupying German SS units.

There were, however, some Polish atrocities against Jews and other civilians during and after the war.

In 1941, Polish villagers in Jedwabne, perhaps at the instigation of the Nazis, rounded up more than 300 of their Jewish neighbours and burned them alive in a barn.

Netflix has come under scrutiny recently for how it handles complaints from governments.

Earlier this month, Mr Hastings defended a decision to pull an episode of the political satire show Patriot Act after a complaint from Saudi Arabia by saying: “We’re not in the truth to power business, we’re in the entertainment business.”

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