Memorial for Germans expellees faces delay

25th November 2007, Comments 0 comments

25 November 2007, Berlin (dpa) - A memorial to the millions of Germans expelled from Eastern Europe at the close of World War II has fallen prey to inter-departmental wrangling and is likely to be delayed, the newspaper Die Welt reported Saturday. The government has committed itself to a "visible symbol" to mark the sufferings of up to 15 million ethnic Germans expelled as the war ended, but there has been vocal opposition from Poland and the Czech Republic, from where many were forced out. Die Welt said t

25 November 2007

Berlin (dpa) - A memorial to the millions of Germans expelled from Eastern Europe at the close of World War II has fallen prey to inter-departmental wrangling and is likely to be delayed, the newspaper Die Welt reported Saturday.

The government has committed itself to a "visible symbol" to mark the sufferings of up to 15 million ethnic Germans expelled as the war ended, but there has been vocal opposition from Poland and the Czech Republic, from where many were forced out.

Die Welt said the Finance Ministry was unhappy with the site chosen, while the Foreign Office was insisting on the close involvement of Poland and the Czech Republic.

The Foreign Office is reported to be against using the term "German victims."

Speaking in Warsaw on Saturday, newly-elected Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk expressed his concerns about German moves with regard to the "expellees" as they are known in Germany.

Tusk's predecessor, Jaroslaw Kaczynski, was outspoken in his opposition to a memorial.

The idea of a memorial has been strongly pushed in Germany by Erika Steinbach, president of the Federation of Expellees (BdV) and a member of parliament for Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats (CDU).

Merkel herself backed a memorial when speaking at the BdV's 50th anniversary celebrations last month.

In October a German government spokesman said agreement on a memorial was close, with the cabinet deciding on a concept before the end of this year.

German media reports said the memorial would take the form of a documentation centre under the auspices of the German Historical Museum.

In his address, Tusk drew attention to the activities of the Prussian Trust, which is seeking to reclaim property Germans lost at the end of the war, saying he shared the "special concern" about the claims.

His government would take a "very hard" stance, he added.

The activities of the Prussian Trust and of Steinbach's BdV "cast a shadow" on Polish-German relations, said the new prime minister, who has committed himself to improving relations with Germany following difficult period.

The German government has itself rejected the claims made by the Prussian Trust.

Many Eastern Europeans fear an attempt to "rewrite history" by casting the Germans as victims rather than aggressors in the war, and Steinbach is regarded with extreme suspicion in Poland in particular.

According to German estimates, some 15 million German speakers were expelled from their homes in Eastern Europe, 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.

DPA

Subject: German news

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