Expellees in Crossfire


Artykuł pochodzi z pisma "New Warsaw Express"

Aheated debate about the proposed construction in Berlin of a centre to commemorate Germans expelled from Polish territory after World War II has grabbed the attention of the highest echelons of power in both countries. Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski and Prime Minister Leszek Miller have come out against the idea of the German Expellees Association (BdV) to build the centre in Berlin, near the Holocaust Memorial now under construction.
"We must...remember who started the war, who was the aggressor, and who was the victim of assault, to differentiate between the causes and the effects," Kwasniewski said at Monday's celebrations of the 64th anniversary of the German attack that launched the Second World War.
Miller, in a letter published by the daily Gazeta Wyborcza, pointed out that it was the Nazi occupation forces who began the precedent of shipping native populations out of their homelands to make room for German settlers.
The BdV has been calling for restitution of land taken away from Germans expelled from their former homeland when, after the Second World War, the Allies allowed the Soviet Union to move Poland's borders several hundred kilometres westwards.
To the surprise of many, both German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder and Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer also said it would be a mistake to build the centre in Berlin. Like many others, they suggested that a centre to commemorate victims of mass expulsions throughout European history would be a better idea.
Critics were quick to point out inconsistencies in the idea. They pointed out that the building selected by the BdV to house the centre was built using slave labour from eastern Europe and that many of its builders perished during construction. They have also challenged the credentials of BdV chairwoman Erika Steinbach, who was born in Gdynia as the child of a Wehrmacht officer stationed there as part of the German occupation forces.

BORIA TARASOV

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