Chancellor Angela Merkel backs Berlin memorial for Germans expelled in World War II

23rd October 2007, Comments 0 comments

23 October 2007, Berlin (dpa) - Chancellor Angela Merkel Monday backed establishing a memorial in Berlin to the millions of Germans expelled from Eastern Europe in the aftermath of World War II.

23 October 2007

Berlin (dpa) - Chancellor Angela Merkel Monday backed establishing a memorial in Berlin to the millions of Germans expelled from Eastern Europe in the aftermath of World War II.

Speaking in Berlin at the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Federation of Expellees (BdV), Merkel said her government would soon put forward a concept.

Given the sensitivities in Poland and the Czech Republic in particular, she pledged that the memorial would be established in dialogue with Germany's eastern neighbours.

The sufferings of the millions of Germans thrown out of Eastern Europe were "part of our German identity and part of our culture of remembrance," the chancellor said.

But in reference to the Nazi atrocities that preceded the expulsions, she said: "We are not confusing cause and effect when we remember the expulsions."

BdV President Erika Steinbach said a centre to document the sufferings of the German-speaking people expelled in the aftermath of World War II was "overdue" some 60 years after the end of the war.

But she also said the BdV, which is regarded with intense suspicion in Poland and the Czech Republic, wanted to work for "a reconciled Europe" and to "break through the cycle of vengeance and revenge."

According to German estimates, some 15 million German speakers were expelled from their homes, with 8 million ending up in West Germany and 4 million in the formerly communist East Germany.

Up to 2 million are thought to have died as a result of the expulsions.

The activities of the BdV and of other organisations representing expellees have caused suspicion by Germany's neighbours, where governments are wary of legal claims to restore property.

DPA

Subject: German news

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