Barack Obama, the US president, is not the only one to get into hot water over maladroit descriptions of German concentration camps in occupied Poland (“A sorry state of affairs”, 7-13 June). Last week, (18 June), it was the turn of EU interpreters to feel Poland's wrath.
All European Parliament interpreters who work with the German language were forced to attend a 90-minute history lesson on the basic facts of the Second World War. The homework was belated punishment for an incident last November at a meeting of former Robert Schuman stagiaires in Luxembourg, when a German-to-English interpreter abbreviated a speaker's words, saying “Polish camps” rather than camps in Poland.
Since interpretation into Polish was not being offered, many Polish speakers in the room were listening to the English feed – and they were outraged and halted the meeting. The situation has since escalated, and an official complaint was filed. The history lesson is the Parliament's attempt to defuse the situation.