Skip to comments.Polish fury over German 'victims'
Posted on 08/10/2006 4:35:26 AM PDT by twinself
GERMANY is publicly recalling its suffering in the confusion after the Second World War when millions of civilians from Eastern Europe were expelled. As the newly liberated Poles and Czechs sought revenge on their former oppressors, many German women were raped, beaten and robbed; some were nailed to cartwheels. Now the suffering of Germans is being remembered in an exhibition opening in Berlin today.
For Erika Steinbach, the moving spirit behind Forced Paths, it is the first step towards creating a permanent centre in Berlin to commemorate the 12 million Germans deported from Eastern Europe. We owe it to ourselves, the Christian Democrat politician said yesterday. We owe it to history and our collective memory. However, Angela Merkels Government is bracing itself for a fierce response from the nationalist leadership of Poland.
Lech Kaczynski, the Polish President, says that the centre is an attempt to represent Germans as victims. It will be better for relations between our countries if this centre never comes into existence, said the President, who with the Prime Minister, his brother Jaroslaw, makes no secret of his distrust of Germany.
Relations between Berlin and Warsaw are difficult. The Polish prosecutor has opened a case against a German newspaper for describing the twins as potatoes. A Catholic newspaper close to the Government has published a list of German correspondents in Poland, urging readers to make their anger known.
Earlier, one Polish magazine cover depicted Frau Steinbach in a black SS uniform straddling the Chancellor then, Gerhard Schröder. The impression, then as now, was that the Association of Deported Germans had become such a powerful lobbyist that it was forcing a rewriting of German history.
The exhibition tries to depict the deportation of Germans as one of many mass ethnic expulsions carried out in the 20th century. But Wolfgang Benz, the director of the Anti-Semitism Research Centre in Berlin, said that any attempt to commemorate the expelled Germans had to make clear that the deportations were above all the result of Nazi extermination policies.
Polish girl over the body of her dead sister. September 1st 1939
So 2 wrongs make a right and the excerpt above is OK with you?
That top one... could'a been taken at MoveOn.org headquarters Tuesday night.
I dont know where author see this Polish fury.
Media: Germans killing jews was wrong. Arab freedom fighters doing the same thing isnt so bad, Israel had it coming.
Shut up. It kinda "sounds cool".
So you vistited their homepage... Did you note the credibility of numbers concerning the German civilian victims "killed by the Poles". Geez... they need to get some serious historians there. But I don't think it'll ever happen. Too much money and votes from "the expelled" is involved.
Cool down, man!
First of all: This is one of the many times where I read something about Erika Steinbach first on FR, the German media hardly takes ANY notice of her AT ALL. Plus: The Bund der Vertriebenen was a major political force in the 1950s. Not today.
Secondly: The photos were a cheap shot. Period.
Thirdly: Nobody's denying that first and foremost Poland was the victim here. BUT: Also the Germans have a right to mourn the losses of their loved ones.
Fourthly: As to comment about the the historical accurateness of the number of losses. True, the numbers differ, roughly between 1.1 and 3 million people. But then again, many just "disappeared", be it because a child starved at a roadside or a raped girl of 14 commited suicide. One will probably never be able to tell the real number because these were tumultuous times. But it's certainly more than a few dozen.
Fifthly: From a journalistic standpoint the article is mostly rubbish. I'm not so sure the Poles and Czechs were overjoyed by the sight of the Red Army as the Times says.
Sixthly: To be quite frank, sometimes it's better to let sleeping dogs lie. It's simply amateurish of heads of state to even dignify Steinbach's (who outside of her constituency is a nobody) nonsense with a riposte. Sure, it's an effective way to score cheap points with the chauvinistic circles in your own country. However it leads you nowhere: What good should come out of this? A "Pommerania Liberation Organization" (PLO) that commits acts of terrorism in the "Polish occupied territories"?
They fail to mention that most of the rapes were by soldiers of the Red Army, or that most of the rape victims were members of the Eastern European nationalities which had just suffered years of Nazi horrors. There may have been some innocent German civilians, but the other nationalities suffered far more.
So you say 12 million Germans voluntary left their homes? If that wasn´t expulsion, please define this term. And I can´t laugh about 2 millions deads, which weren´t all killed by Poles or Czechs. Many died on their run to the West, or were killed by the Red Army. Planes firing machine gun salves on the fleeing people come to my mind.
Some? 2 million people died, 12 million more lost their homes and all property. This was a wrong.
True is, other nationalities suffered far more. 25 million Soviet citizens were killed during the war, for instance. But these people are remembered by their nations. Why shouldn´t Germany remember its deads?
If all the stuff cited in the article did happen, then there were definitely some German victims.
We also know that Hitler killed a number of his own citizens for daring to disagree with him. Interesting that there's no mention of memorializing those victims.
I really wouldn't mind every one of those few had his/her own memorial.
Oh, yes, President Kazczynski has been to Germany. At least twice. The last time he enjoyed the soccer game Germany-Poland sitting next to our cheering Chancellor.
And I´ve been to Poland.
Mrs. Steinbach spoke in German TV yesterday. She doesn´t understand the anger, and she pointed out that her organisation (the BdV) has good relations with the families who live now in the formerly German homes. The differences came up with the Eastern Poles who have almost no contacts with modern Germany, and only recall the Nazi era.
Few? Now tell me, who classifies as a victim in YOUR eyes?
In my eyes, there are several categories. In the more restricted category, a victim is someone who got mistreatment up to death without having been engaged in violent actions himself. Children, civilians who weren´t eligible to vote 1933 or didn´t vote NSDAP, come to my mind - no matter whether they were Germans, Poles, Jews, Christians, or whatever. The second category of victims are soldiers, who weren´t supportive for the Nazi or Stalin regime (when we speak of Eastern Europe), partisans, maybe even people who voted NSDAP in 1933 but didn´t want what happened afterwards.
And you say, it´s few people?
She didn´t look old, she was probably a young child in 1945.
She was a daughter of a Luftwaffe soldier born in 1943 in a house near Gdynia (within Polish borders before 09.1939 of course) from which they earlier threw out a Polish family. Does it still classify her as 'the expelled'? No? So what's your point now?
Christians, Communists, Social Democrats, students, military officers - there were tens of thousands who were active in the underground opposition and were killed for that in the KZs. There were more than 40 attempts to assassinate Hitler in Germany, the two most prominent by a civilian (Georg Elser) 1938 in Munich and by a military conspiration (leading: Col. Claus Graf Schenck von Stauffenberg, Gen. Ludwig Beck) 1944 in HQ Wolfsschanze/East Prussia. Both were well planned and failed just by coincidence.
Your definition is more than inclusive and unprecise - it's funny. I only wonder why you didn't include American Indians category, or whatever. :)
She is one of the expelled, yes. She´s one of the 12 million. What´s YOUR point?
I told you, bring a definition on your own! I can´t really take you for serious. Maybe you just hate Germans, but I´m not argueing with you that lots of Germans were Nazi victims. I could even call the families who lost their homes because of allied bombs Nazi victims, if they were against the regime.
Christians? Hitler along with vast majority of Germans was Christian, too. I don't think it classifies them all as victims. Military officers... Spare me. How many of them precisely? What percentage? You're saying thousands, millions maybe... :) My opinion is that if it is really the case I think you should honor these thousands of people first. Cause they badly need some remeberance not only in Germany but also abroad. World doesn't know about them and you simply owe them that.
If Poland invaded Germany and I threw you out of your house would you call my child 'the expelled'?
It's time to take your pills. Byeee...
I know that this probably sounds hippy-esque...but wouldn't the best idea be some joint effort to display the civilian victims of Poland and Germany, or maybe East Europe and Germany, together? A big center where each side gets one wing (the Polish wing would probably have to be bigger) to display the atrocities that were comitted during this war? It doesn't even make sense to display the German victims without having seen the Polish victims before, because they effectively result from the German atrocities. Of course that does not justify anything, but I think something like this would be a big step to a better understanding between Germany and Poland, especially because it would be very hard to use such a joint effort as a political tool for either side.
Why the need to open up this can of worms? Why Poles are singled out, and not the Soviets who forced the borders to change? The Poles would have gladly accepted the pre-war borders, but Stalin gave them no choice in the matter.
Sure - when I come back, conquer Poland and force you to leave your house with your family.
Yours is a good post.
One could argue that there also were people of German heritage that had been living in now-Poland (Wroclav and Szczecin for example) and other parts of East Europe, for example the now-Czech Republic, for quite a long time. These also were expelled, among others that had only recently come to 'germanize' the newly conquered lands. It's undeniable that after WW2 a considerable part of East Germany was also 'polonized'.
I didn´t speak of "all". But maybe you should inform yourself about the German opponents of the Nazi regime.
http://www.ushmm.org/education/foreducators/resource/resistance.pdf - Pages 40-45
Tens of thousand Germans also died in the KZ´s or were imprisoned - for daring to oppose the regime.
I don´t understand it either. The center against expulsion would also include the not less violent expulsion of Eastern Poles by the Soviets.
But the bottom line is that borders have shifted in Europe for centuries.
What's done is done. Why can't people just leave well enough alone?
"Also because of its emotional value it will be largely exploited in politics both internal and foreign."
Yeah, exploitation is the right word. It's the same as Gerhard Schroeder criticizing Bush: It plays into existing prejudices, but doesn't help anyone here and now. (For sure Schroeder did nothing to help the ailing German economy.)
"It's your opinion and I respect it. But they're real not fakes, like some of the ones from Beirut. Secondly, this little child was really killed. Where is the killer now? I don't think he ever was martial courted."
I didn't say they were fake. I just said it was a cheap as it did nothing but to further prejudices.
"The first one to remind you that Nazis was not just Hitler alone plus a couple of his pals. Germans as a nation fell for him."
True. But that again the Germans of today aren't the same as those of over 70s years ago. Collective guilt only goes so far.
I acknowledge what happened during the Nazi rule and certainly accept my responsibily as a German national. However: I did not vote for Hitler, neither did my parents nor Angela Merkel or Horst Koehler.
But to perpetuate the notion that because because our ancestors made a mistake all Germans must be homocidal maniacs is straightforward racist (I hope you don't get me wrong: I know that YOU don't do this and I'm not accusing you of anything, but as you certainly know, even here at FR there are some *censored* that do). And by the way, it's ridiculous, as the gene pool of (northern) Germans is identical to that of Brits and identical to Brits and anglo-saxon Americans.
"You don't have the right to forget that you reaped what you sowed."
Again: I did sow nothing. But I also don't demand Farther Pommerania back. ;-)
"Under the US and British administration for the Western Germany 'the punishment' was reeaaly light, you must say. They simply treated you like human beings. A privilege that wasn't on the side of your previous Polish, Russian, Ukrainian, Yugoslavian victims."
Yeah, except for the part where Germany was divided in two, with the GDR also falling under the rule of communism and Western Germany being threatened with nuclear annihilation for 40 years ;-).
But yeah, you are right: Western Germans had it better than Eastern Germans or Poles, no doubt about it. The real question IMHO however is: Besides the historical debate do we really want to open the can of worms and turn history in a political debat just like in the middle east?
I know, there is a number of sensitive issues with Poles and I frankly am quite embarrassed by Erika Steinbach personally. But: Germany isn't intent on revising the past and the Oder-Neisse line is the definite border between Poland and Germany (even though you cheated with regard to Stettin and Swinemuende *LOL). And I say this with the utmost respect: Poland has to overcome its paranoia as to the German intentions, otherwise this is going to poison German-Polish relations for decades to come.
I don't know. Maybe because the effects can still be felt. My mothers family was expelled. I can say that my grandmother did not hold a grudge against the Czech, probably because she fled from the advancing Russian army rather than from the people her family had lived amongst for generations. But that experience also forced her to become hard and destroyed something inside of her, because she was never able to visit her beloved place of birth ever again. Aside from the fact that her life was pretty hard because she had to raise three children largely on her own. I think the following 5-10 years will do wonders to heal the wounds of WW2, because soon there will be no one left who really experienced the trauma of being driven out of his or her home.
Well I admit "Stettin" is a heck of a lot easier to spell than "Szczecin." :)
Actually, my grandmother confirmed that the Russians attacked her convoi with planes.
Maybe Gerhard will ask his new master to apologize ? :(
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