Angela Merkel visits Poland amid expellee row
16 August 2005, WARSAW - German opposition leader and chancellor candidate Angela Merkel met with Polish President Alexander Kwasniewski Tuesday where she discussed topics of bilateral interest including a controversial proposal for an expellee centre to be constructed in Berlin.
16 August 2005
WARSAW - German opposition leader and chancellor candidate Angela Merkel met with Polish President Alexander Kwasniewski Tuesday where she discussed topics of bilateral interest including a controversial proposal for an expellee centre to be constructed in Berlin.
The Expellees' Federation (BdV) has called for the centre to be built to document the fates of more than 15 million ethnic Germans forced out of eastern Europe after the Second World War, as well as the expulsions of other peoples in modern history.
Kwasniewski told Polish radio earlier Tuesday that this would be unacceptable as it would place the emphasis on German suffering and diminish the fates of Poles, Czechs and others displaced by the Nazis.
"It would give the impression to the Poles, Czechs and other nations that suffered under the Nazis that it was some form of historical revision, an attempt to change or to have different interpretations of history that we could not agree to," the Polish president said.
Merkel, the leader of Germany's Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party, said after her talks that she had argued for "acceptance" of the centre, adding that while she condemned any attempt at historical revisionism, there could be no "comparative valuation of suffering".
"Poland is the country that suffered the most under Nazism and the Second World War," she said. "But remembering (the German expellees) also cannot be forbidden."
The CDU leader called on Poles to "trust" that Germany had no interest in rewriting history.
She also said her party, along with election partners Bavaria's Christian Social Union (CSU), rejected calls by various groups for Poles to pay compensation to the families of the expelled Germans.
Merkel, in Warsaw for a one-day visit, said that the CDU/CSU alliance would in the event of victory in Germany's upcoming elections continue a policy of German-Polish friendship.
Officials said the visit was designed to underline to Poles the importance of Polish-German relations to the CDU/CSU alliance.
Merkel paid tribute to Poland's role in ending communism in Europe, saying that as a citizen of the former East Germany she could well remember the hopes sparked some 25 years previously by the Warsaw workers' strike and the foundation of the Solidarity union.
The CDU leader also met in Warsaw with Donald Tusk, head of the liberal-conservative Civic Platform (PO) party, the CDU's "sister party in Poland. Talks with Prime Minister Marek Belka were meanwhile scheduled for the afternoon.
Subject: German news