Empathy From the Devil


Artykuł pochodzi z pisma "New Warsaw Express"

Poles have a tendency to complain that nobody recognises their great historical suffering, but this week it drew attention from an unexpected and unwelcome source: the League of Expellees (BdV), a group of Germans who were thrown out of Central Europe after the Second World War.
On Monday, BdV leader Erika Steinbach organised a meeting to express empathy for the victims of the Warsaw Uprising, the 63-day revolt in August and September of 1944 that saw the occupying Germans destroy 80 percent of the city while the Red Army watched from the Praga side.
Steinbach's calls for reparations and attempts to build a museum in Germany commemorating the suffering of Germans deported after the war have made her a bogeywoman for the Polish press, and a symbol of German historical revisionism.
Commentators are even more troubled by her recent change in tactics, which relies on expressing empathy for “fellow victims of Nazi aggression”.
They point out that all this empathy would be a bit more credible if Steinbach had invited even a single surviving Uprising fighter to the meeting.
Nevertheless, Steinbach's change of tack has allowed her to draw support from Cardinal Karl Lehmann, head of the German Episcopate, from a leading German Jewish commentator and some of the mainstream politicians who had earlier adopted a policy of ignoring her and her group.
The League includes ethnic Germans who were stripped of property and thrown out of Czechoslovakia, as well as those forced to move when Poland's borders were redrawn by the Allies.
The empathy night was supported by a German government centre for political education, held in a Catholic church in Berlin, and drew attendees including Lehmann and German Holocaust survivor Ralph Giordano.
Until recently a fierce critic of Steinbach, Giordano drew a standing ovation from the meeting for the line, “You can't accuse her of a lack of good will.”.
Lehmann said the meeting was not meant to call attention to the expellees, but purely to remember the suffering of the Nazis' Polish victims.
That didn't find too many empathetic ears in Warsaw, where German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder is expected to attend the official commemoration of the uprising's 60th anniversary next weekend.
“We can't forbid expressions of sympathy – but we're allowed to classify them as provocations,” former Foreign Minister – and Auschwitz survivor – Wladyslaw Bartoszewski told Gazeta Wyborcza.
As could be expected, tabloid Super Express was a bit more blunt, running a photo of buildings burning during the uprising and addressing Steinbach directly: “Hey Erika! You dealt with Warsaw once already – and afterwards we had to rebuild it.”

attendees -- people who are present at an event
bogeywoman -- a fairy-tale character used to scare disobedient children
change of tack -- a change of direction or strategy (from sailing jargon)
credible -- believable
stripped of property -- had his/her belongings taken away or confiscated
troubled -- bothered

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