WW II expellees criticise Schroeder

2nd August 2004, Comments 0 comments

2 August 2004 , BERLIN - Erika Steinbach, the president of a group representing millions of Germans who lost homes in eastern Europe more than 55 years ago, renewed Monday her criticism of German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder for ruling out compensation. Steinbach, who has suggested in recent days that the expellees would be satisfied with token compensation and do not seek financial benefit, also told Germany's ZDF television her group still sought a memorial in the German capital Berlin. "Most of our memb

2 August 2004

BERLIN - Erika Steinbach, the president of a group representing millions of Germans who lost homes in eastern Europe more than 55 years ago, renewed Monday her criticism of German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder for ruling out compensation.

Steinbach, who has suggested in recent days that the expellees would be satisfied with token compensation and do not seek financial benefit, also told Germany's ZDF television her group still sought a memorial in the German capital Berlin.

"Most of our members are not asking for property, just for some sympathy and for co-existence of our nations in reconciliation," she said. Her group represents ethnic Germans expelled from modern Poland, the Czech Republic and other eastern nations.

Schroeder dismayed the group Sunday when he said, "There must not be any room for restitution claims from Germany that turn history on its head," assuring Poles that neither Berlin nor the main German political parties supported individual property claims by expellees.

"If he had really wanted to give the Poles relief, he should have said, 'We'll introduce legislation and settle the matters with the expellees that have to be settled and take on the financial responsibility for it'," she said.

The demands from about 2 million expellees and their descendants have been a longtime thorn in Polish-German relations, with Warsaw concerned that a future German government might support the claims.

Originally, the expellees sought to recover the farms and houses they lost between 1945 and 1950 when Europe redrew its borders, then later demanded financial compensation. Steinbach has hinted in recent days that moral recognition of their sufferings might suffice.

Polish commentators have responded that this insults the memory of millions of Jews and eastern Europeans killed by the Nazis between 1939-1945.

DPA

Subject: German news

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