FBI director’s ‘blockhead’ remarks cause Poland to demand an apology

The U.S. ambassador to Poland found himself on the hot seat and apologizing to Polish officials Sunday over “blockhead” remarks by FBI Director James Comey that implied Poles were accomplices to the Holocaust during World War II.

Comey’s comments were published in the Washington Post Thursday, and adapted from a speech he gave Wednesday at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum’s 2015 National Tribute Dinner.

“In their minds, the murderers and accomplices of Germany, and Poland, and Hungary, and so many, many other places didn’t do something evil. They convinced themselves it was the right thing to do, the thing they had to do. That’s what people do. And that should truly frighten us,” he said.

Stephen Mull
Ambassador Stephen Mull, right, lays flowers at the Monument to the Ghetto Heroes during the ceremony of the 72nd anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, April, 19 2015. Photo credit: Jakub Kaminski/EPA via The Guardian.

The remarks infuriated Polish officials so much that an aide to the Polish President Bronislaw Komorowski called Comey a “blockhead” during a debate on Poland’s news channel TVN24, but added “stupidity of one official does not erase the friendship between Poland and the U.S.”

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Summoned to the Polish Foreign Ministry on Sunday, U.S. Ambassador to Poland Stephen Mull himself apologized on Sunday for the comments.

“I made clear that the opinion that Poland is in any way responsible for the Holocaust is not the position of the United States,” Mull told reporters in Warsaw. “Nazi Germany alone bears responsibility.”

“I now have a lot of work before me to make things right in this situation,” he said.

Polish Prime Minister Ewa Kopacz blasted Comey’s words.

“To those who are incapable of presenting the historic truth in an honest way, I want to say that Poland was not a perpetrator but a victim of World War II,” she said. “I would expect full historical knowledge from officials who speak on the matter.”


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