Poland hails Berlin dismissal of joint WWII blame

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Poland on Friday hailed German politicians for slapping down comments by a German lawmaker that Poland was jointly to blame for starting World War II, calling them historically inaccurate.

"We are satisfied with the reactions of most German politicians, especially those from official representatives of the government including (foreign) minister Guido Westerwelle. It is very edifying," Martin Bosacki, spokesman for the Polish foreign ministry, told AFP.

The issue flared Thursday when Erika Steinbach, head of a body representing Germans driven from eastern Europe after 1945, told the Die Welt daily: "Unfortunately, I cannot change the fact that Poland had already mobilised in March 1939."

Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler's invasion of Poland six months later touched off World War II.

She told the paper she had been "purposefully" misunderstood and she did not intend to call into question Nazi Germany's responsibility for the war but her remarks prompted quick German government reaction.

"I think comments that relativise the responsibility of Nazi Germany for the outbreak of World War II are very dangerous," said Cornelia Pieper, an official in charge of German-Polish relations, adding "they turn history on its head."

Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski added that he hoped Steinbach's comments would lead to an end to her political career.

"I hope that this woman's career in German politics has reached an end," he told private Radio ZET on Friday.

Steinbach, an MP from Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservative Christian Democrat party, is something of a hate figure in Poland for refusing to accept the German-Polish border after German reunification in 1990.

© 2010 AFP

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