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Netflix to update The Devil Next Door with additional context for maps of concentration camp sites

Photo: Netflix

Netflix has announced plans to alter the content of one of its recent releases, hoping to give additional historical context to viewers after receiving a request to that effect from the Polish government. According to Variety, the streaming service will soon be adding explanatory notes to its limited series The Devil Next Door, making it clearer that maps showing the locations of Nazi concentration camps during the Holocaust were not meant to imply that the camps were built by the Polish government, despite showing them within the borders of the modern-day Polish state.

This has been an understandably touchy subject for Poland for decades now, given that the country’s current territory was the site of some of the worst of the Nazi atrocities, with 90 percent of its Jewish population—roughly half the Jewish people killed during the Holocaust, total—being murdered by the invading regime. Poland itself didn’t even exist as a formal government at the time, having never formed an equivalent to France’s Vichy regime; all governmental structures were operated by the invading Germans. And while there are documented historical reports of non-Jewish Polish citizens exploiting the occupation for their own profit, or as an outgrowth of the country’s own antisemitism movements, it’s also impossible to ignore that no country has had more of its citizens enshrined as members of the Righteous Among The Nations, the State Of Israel’s formal designation for those who risked (and, often, gave) their lives to protect Jewish people during the Nazi occupation.

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So, yeah: They’re touchy about this stuff.

The Devil Next Door centers on the trial of John Demjanjuk, an Ohio grandfather accused of being an infamous concentration camp guard known as “Ivan The Terrible.” Said Nazi officer operated in the Treblinka camp in then-occupied Poland, and maps showing the locations of the camps within the boundaries of the modern country quickly earned ire of the country’s premier, Mateusz Morawiecki, blasting Netflix CEO Reed Hastings for broadcasting the images.

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Here’s an excerpt from Morawiecki’s letter to Hastings:

Not only is the map incorrect, but it deceives viewers into believing that Poland was responsible for establishing and maintaining these camps, and for committing the crimes therein. As my country did not even exist at that time as an independent state, and millions of Poles were murdered at these sites, this element of The Devil Next Door is nothing short of rewriting history.” 

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Netflix has responded to the Polish government’s claims, and while it made it clear that it stands by the project, it also confirmed that explanatory text will soon be added to the series, clarifying the context of the maps of the sites.

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