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Westerwelle embroiled in row over displaced Germans in WWII

DDP/The Local · 13 Nov 2009, 11:05

Published: 13 Nov 2009 11:05 GMT+01:00

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In an opinion article written for daily Bild, Erika Steinbach, the controversial president of the Federation of Expellees (BdV) accused Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle of trying to “buy the confidence” of neighbouring countries.

The comments mark a dramatic escalation of the wrangling between the pair, after Westerwelle voiced his opposition to Steinbach's participation in a foundation for war expulsions during his inaugural visit to Poland two weeks ago.

Steinbach is viewed with suspicion in Poland and other European countries because of her vigorous championing of the rights of the estimated 13 million Germans displaced in Eastern Europe after the war.

Westerwelle, eager to strengthen relationships with Germany’s neighbours to the east, challenged putting Steinbach on the committee of the foundation. He said that Germany’s relationships with its neighbours should come first and that “Ms Steinbach will know this too.”

But Steinbach hit back, writing: "You would not deal with the rights of churches, unions or other victims associations in such a way. So the BdV won’t put up with it either.”

Steinbach added that there was a lack of “humanitarian sympathy in German politics” to the woes of the expellees. There was often greater sympathy in the local communities of the affected countries, she wrote.

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It was “the job of the new foreign minister to set the course (of German foreign policy), instead of trying to buy the confidence of neighbouring countries through sacrificial offerings of one’s own citizens or organisations,” she wrote.

The CDU's Bavarian sister party, the Christian Social Union, also attacked Westerwelle. Hans-Peter Friedrich, the CSU's leader in the Bundestag told the Hamburger Abendblatt: “It is regrettable that Guido Westerwelle, in the best tradition of the (centre-left Social Democrats), is trying to raise his profile at the expense of the expellees."

DDP/The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

14:51 November 13, 2009 by Major B
Whew, what a super sensitive festering issue. What is the ultimate objective of the Federation of Expellees? Have no opinion on this.
15:12 November 13, 2009 by Rittervon
As the son of an expellee, I do understand why this is such a delicate issue. My father still will not visit Germany just because of the bad memories.
21:07 November 13, 2009 by OPB
BdV deserves more respect.
00:28 November 15, 2009 by Bob Morris
I'm an American who follows European events. Respect the BdV? If they are out to recalim the former parts of eastern Germany that are now part of Poland, why should anyone respect them?
20:24 November 18, 2009 by Tiwaz
The Real Issue is not d Right of Return for Deutsche People but d Foundation of Myth of d New World Order of 1948 which Aldous Huxley concealed in "Brave New World" and George Orwell concealed in "1984". Between the First World War and the Second World War Deutschland lost about the Size of England to the Victors. The Problem was that the Land that was given to the Victors had Deutsche People living on it! Ethnic cleansing started immediately after IWW as documented by the League of Nations. Deutsche Farms where stolen and People who had lived their for Hundreds of Years where driven out or simply murdered. This injustice was one of the Main Reasons for the Second World War as witnessed by the Danzig - Gdansk Problem. The Soviet Union not only exterminated 7 million Ukrainians between d Wars but continued to exterminate Deutsche Farmers who had been invited by Catharine the Great of Russian. After d IIWW d Allies continued the Ethnic cleansing where researches like James Bach documents that the Allies where able to exterminate another 9 Million. If the Allies allowed Deutsche People to return to their Ancestral Homeland it could lead to more "Revising" of the Victors Hi-Story. This "correction" of Hi-Story would undermine the Foundation Myth that the Allies have the Right to Rule over the Vanquished and it would Question the Legitimacy of the New World Order. That is the Real Political Issue.
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