German, Polish bishops condemn WWII expulsions
In a joint statement, bishops from both countries warned against "attempts to exploit the wounds of the past and to awaken resentment resulting from biased interpretations of history."
Warsaw -- Polish and German Roman Catholic bishops have condemned the crimes and expulsions of the Second World War on the eve of the 70th anniversary of its outbreak in a joint statement issued Tuesday.
"German and Polish bishops condemn all war crimes. We concur on condemning expulsions, without forgetting their context and the order of events," said the statement, signed by the chairmen of the Polish and German Episcopates, respectively, Bishop Jozef Michalik and Robert Zollitsch.
"After the criminal war aggression of Nazi Germany and the immense wrongs inflicted on Poles by Germans and the wrongs and loss of homeland experienced by Germans due to expulsions, we repeat: 'We forgive and ask for forgiveness'." Here, the bishops refer to the mutual forgiveness requested by Polish and German Episcopates some 44 years ago in their first post-war letter of Polish-German reconciliation.
In Tuesday's joint statement, published simultaneously in Bonn and Czestochowa, bishops from both countries warned against "attempts to exploit the wounds of the past and to awaken resentment resulting from biased interpretations of history."
Both appealed to their respective countrymen to "intensely build a common future without returning selectively to the past."
Poland suffered the brunt of the two front attack by Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union during WWII. Seventy years after its outburst, Poles remain highly sensitive to war-related issues, particularly regarding any perceived attempts to revise history and relativise Nazi Germany's responsibility for WWII.
A Berlin-based project aimed at commemorating the displacement of Germans from Central and Eastern Europe after WWII has raised fears in Poland that it could overshadow the suffering of vast numbers of non-German victims of Nazi Germany, including the six million Jewish victims of Nazi genocide.
After the defeat of Nazi Germany, Germans living in what had been Nazi-occupied central and eastern regions of Europe were forced to flee West after the Allies handed over the territories to Poland and the USSR.
Millions of Poles living in territories seized by the USSR were also forced to move west.