Berlin slams claims Poland also to blame for WWII

9th September 2010, Comments 0 comments

German officials on Thursday slapped down comments seen as making Poland jointly responsible for starting World War II, saying such statements "turn history on its head."

Erika Steinbach, head of a body representing Germans driven from eastern Europe after 1945, told the Die Welt daily: "Unfortunately, I cannot change the fact that Poland had already mobilised in March 1939."

Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler's invasion of Poland six months later touched off World War II.

She told the paper she had been "purposefully" misunderstood and she did not intend to call into question Nazi Germany's responsibility for the war but her comments prompted a rapid statement by a senior foreign ministry official.

"I think comment that relativise the responsibility of Nazi Germany for the outbreak of World War II are very dangerous," said Cornelia Pieper, an official in charge of German-Polish relations.

"They turn history on its head and we have to be careful that ill-thought-out statements do not weigh on relations between Germany and Poland," she added in a statement.

Steinbach, an MP from Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservative Christian Democrat party, is something of a hate figure in neighbouring Poland for refusing to accept the German-Polish border after German reunification in 1990.

© 2010 AFP

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