Germany and Poland to end row over exhibition on postwar refugees

5th February 2008, Comments 0 comments

The planned permanent exhibition caused outrage in Poland.

Warsaw/Berlin -- Germany and Poland have come closer to ending a row over a planned German exhibition on the fate of refugees and displaced people during World War II, following a meeting between top-level officials of the two countries in Warsaw on Tuesday.

The permanent exhibition, planned by Germany as a "visible sign against flight and expulsion," had prompted opposition in Poland, where the forced migration of millions of German nationals and ethnic Germans following World War II has remained a thorny issue.

While representatives of the resettled Germans have highlighted the plight of the refugees, Poland has stressed the prior suffering caused by the Nazi occupation of the country.

The planned exhibition would not be formally supported by the Polish government even though the participation of Polish historians was "not excluded," said German Minister of State for Culture Bernd Neumann after meeting Polish State Secretary Vladyslav Bartoszevski.

The controversy concerning the commemoration of Germans forcefully resettled after WWII is encapsulated in the use of the term "expulsion" which is rejected in many territories in Eastern Europe held or annexed by Germany before and during World War II.

German-Polish relations had been strengthened by the talks between the two officials, Neumann told Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa.

Germany had also agreed to sponsor the restoration of a museum on the Polish Westerplatte peninsula which saw Germany's invasion of Poland on September 1, 1939 that started World War II.

Meanwhile, Poland's former prime minister Jaroslav Kaczynski of the nationalist conservative Law and Justice Party (PiS) rejected the German plans for the exhibition as a "political trap" and said he was opposed to any Polish participation in the project.

An advisor to President Lech Kaczynski, the former premier's twin brother, also said Poland could not accept the project's underlying "ideological concept." Warsaw should join forces with Prague in opposing the exhibition, Marek Cichocki said Tuesday.

DPA with Expatica

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