German parliament approves exhibit on WWII refugees

7th December 2008, Comments 0 comments

The plan had met with reservation in Eastern Europe, particularly in Poland, where leading politicians warned against a revision of history.

Berlin -- The president of Germany's Federation of Expellees welcomed Friday parliament's approval of funding for a controversial exhibition on the fate refugees and people displaced by World War II.

"The painful heritage of German expellees will be anchored in the collective memory of Germany through this foundation," said Erika Steinbach in a statement released a day after the vote.

The permanent exhibition is planned as a "visible sign" to mark the sufferings of ethnic Germans expelled from Poland and other Eastern European countries in the aftermath of the war.

The plan had met with reservation in Eastern Europe, particularly in Poland, where leading politicians warned against a revision of history that could cast Germans as victims rather than aggressors in the war.

The 1,200-quare-metre exhibition, under the auspices of the German Historical Museum, will also detail the fate of other displaced people in Europe.

Steinbach said the exhibition had come "late, but not too late," and urged all those involved with it "to work together without bias" in order to make it a success."

The Federation of Expellees has three members of the board that will be involved in organizing the exhibition, but it is not clear if Steinbach herself will be one of them.

Funding approved by parliament late Thursday amounts to 1.2 million euros (1.5 million dollars) for the current year and 2.5 million dollar per year from 2009-2011.

The opposition Left party and the Greens criticized the involvement of the Federation of Expellees in the center, which it said should not have been housed in Berlin but in the area where the borders of Germany, Poland and the Czech Republic meet.

According to German estimates, some 15 million German speakers were expelled from their homes in the aftermath of the war. Up to 2 million are thought to have died as a result of the expulsions.

DPA/Expatica

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