Thu Mar 30, 3:57 PM ET

WARSAW, Poland – Poland wants to change the official name of the Auschwitz death camp on the U.N.’s world heritage directory to emphasize that it was run by German Nazis, not Poles, an official said Thursday.

The government requested that
UNESCO, the U.N.’s educational and cultural body, change the name from “Auschwitz Concentration Camp” to “Former Nazi German Concentration Camp Auschwitz-Birkenau,” Culture Ministry spokesman Jan Kasprzyk said.

Polish officials have complained in the past that foreign media sometimes refer to Auschwitz — a death camp located in occupied Poland where Nazi Germans killed 1.5 million people during World War II — as a “Polish concentration camp.”

That phrasing deeply offends sensitivities in Poland, which was subjected to a brutal occupation by Adolf Hitler’s Nazi forces.

“In the years after the war, the former Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp was definitively associated with the criminal activities of the national socialist Nazi regime in Germany. However, for the contemporary, younger generations, especially abroad, that association is not universal,” Kasprzyk was quoted by the PAP news agency as saying.

“The proposed change in the name leaves no doubt as to what the Auschwitz-Birkenau camp was,” Kasprzyk said.

Polish officials hope to hear back about their request by the middle of the year.

The death camp at Auschwitz was made a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1979.