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Steinbach to leave CDU leadership after WWII row

The Local · 9 Sep 2010, 18:04

Published: 09 Sep 2010 14:11 GMT+02:00
Updated: 09 Sep 2010 18:04 GMT+02:00

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Claiming she had become an “alibi” as her party shifted to the political middle under Merkel, Steinbach said she no longer had a place in the CDU’s top echelon.

“I stand for conservatism there, but I stand ever more alone,” she said in comments to be published on the website of daily Die Welt. “My CDU isn’t on the right path. And that’s because conformity doesn’t attract voters.”

Steinbach, head of a body representing Germans driven from eastern Europe after 1945, sparked the controversy this week by saying Poland had mobilised its military six months before Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler's invasion of Poland six months sparked World War II.

"Unfortunately, I cannot change the fact that Poland had already mobilised in March 1939," she told Die Welt.

But 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 comments prompted a rapid statement by a senior foreign ministry official.

"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.

"They turn history on its head and we have to be careful that ill-thought-out statements do not weigh on relations between Germany and Poland," she added in a statement.

Story continues below…

Steinbach also said Thursday she had become “disillusioned” after a bruising battle to become part of a foundation for reconciliation and expulsion in Berlin earlier this year.

Steinbach, who will remain a Christian Democratic MP, is deeply unpopular in Poland for refusing to accept the German-Polish border after German reunification in 1990.

The Local/AFP/DAPD/ka/mry

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

15:21 September 9, 2010 by William Thirteen
why can't she change that fact - she certainly changes many others!
16:25 September 9, 2010 by Prufrock2010
Revising history seems to be the new virus going around these days. It's a global pandemic.
19:06 September 9, 2010 by wildcowgirl
It's almost like the moment she realized that she disagreed with her political party, she shook the Magic 8 Ball, and TA-DA...bring up something from WWII.

This is seriously getting old.

If there's a disagreement with the boss, discuss it like adults behind closed doors.
19:31 September 9, 2010 by catjones
All we can pray for is that she not lose her pension.
19:40 September 9, 2010 by SockRayBlue
Most of Europe knew Hitler was coming years before he broke out of Germany. Since my ancestry is half Polish I have to give her the "raspberries".
21:13 September 9, 2010 by wolfer
I think when you say "alibi" you really mean "liability."
23:48 September 9, 2010 by saucymugwump
Sarrazin was forced out within a few days after saying things that were mostly true, but Steinbach was able to spread her hate for at least two decades. To this day, Merkel has not said a discouraging word regarding the closet-Nazi Steinbach. Clearly the Nazis are still alive and well in Germany.
00:31 September 10, 2010 by Logic Guy
Well, there are some 70 million plus native Germans. And I'm sure that most admire very much, her dedication to do what she can to preserve Germany. However, it's the negative rhetoric that causes problems.

The fact is, most people respct the truth, even when it doesn't benefit them personally. And so, leaders and aspiring leaders just have to present their message in a non-aggressive manner. This can easily be achieved if the person were become non-emotional. Perhaps someday other people will realize, that when there is a decrease in emotions, there is an increase in intelligence.

This isn't difficult to understand is it?
06:55 September 10, 2010 by parografik
The capacity for denial in humans is very great. I suspect Steinbach is not very concerned with the truth, nor are her supporters, rather they are interested in some emotional dynamic that brings very little constructive energy to the table. Good Riddance.
09:05 September 10, 2010 by Keith_F
There might be a difference in what she stated and what she was trying to imply. However, people love to burn a witch...

Poland did Mobilize its troops on March 1939. The First units (four infantry divisions and cavalry brigade) were put at full strength in March 1939 after German occupation of Czechoslovakia. Moreover some units along the western borders were strengthened by calling in reservists for exercises. This mobilization gave Hitler an excuse to do what I am sure he was already planning on.

If I were Poland...I would have mobilized too, but differently. Hitler took Czech, and he already stated in 1924 (Mein Kampf) that gaining more land to the East was one of the three CENTRAL AIMS of his (Hitler) foreign policy.

But lets be honest... Poland was just his stepping stone to Russia.

Poland is just pissed because they think that she is trying to put the blame for the invasion on them, but she stated in the same interview that she feels Germany started the war. I think she is trying to say that Poland has a "small" share of the blame. Poland played right into Hitler's hands. They mobilized their troops on the German border and basically dared him to come. Hitler was crazy.... and you can't dare a crazy man.

Why does she have a personal grudge against Poland? Frau Steinbach was born in Poland to German parents who moved there after the Nazi invasion. Her family was amongst the 14 million ethnic Germans who fled or were expelled from eastern Europe during and after the end of the war.

A further 2 million are estimated to have died or were killed.

Gemany did horrible things in the War, but horrible things were done to Germans after the war. The sad part is that it is always the innocent that are the victims of aggression when countries collide. Two wrongs do not make a right, and it was a sad time in history.

What is even more sad is that when a German mentions anything that differs from popular opinion then they are automatically labeled as a Nazi.
09:07 September 10, 2010 by Kennneth Ingle
For many years I have been examining the reasons for WW2, which I lived through as a child and which altered my whole life. In no way would I defend the War policies of Hitler, anymore than the treatment of Jews under his rule. Frau Steinbach has not done this either! She did not express an opinion, she pointed out facts which many these days choose to ignore. Perhaps few of the critics writing, will be able to remember British PM Loyd George saying "Poland is the biggest trouble maker in central Europe." This comment was made before Hitler even came to power. Indeed as early as 1930, Poland had threatend to invade Germany. Hitler was a curse for Europe, he was a fool for starting the war, but others were also not completely innocent. A little research in old documents will confirm what Steinbach says, but the truth is not always welcome in Germany.
10:28 September 10, 2010 by FunkyKoval
With all respect gentlemen Keith_F and Kennneth Ingle, but you are telling bulls***t.

When you look at the political map of Europe in the eve of the WW2 it is not necessary to be a historian to see that situation of Poland was critical - the country was placed between the two most violent and aggressive totalitarian regimes of the 20th century and because of own size and geographical location was not able to remain neutral in the clash between them. What is more, alliance with the Nazi Germany or with the Soviet Union was impossible, not only because both countries were ideologically against the Polish state but also because alliance with Hitler could not be accepted by the society with so large Jewish minority entitled to vote (to the contrary to Germany or USSR, Poland was a democratic country). At that time only possible solution for the Polish government was an alliance with France and UK, alliance which had failed because France did not started military action against the Third Reich in the second week after the invasion of Poland (as she should according to the agreement between the allies).

PM Loyd George's words ("Poland is the biggest trouble maker in central Europe") are only proving that the Polish politicians were much more aware and forecasting than the British government blamed by the policy of appeasement. It is true that Poland were suggesting France taking a military action against Germany in 1935, after Hitler started a process of re-militarization (at that time Germany had only 100,000 lightly armored troops and such action would more likely prevent the WW2).

To sum up, Poland was not able to avoid war with the ideology aiming in extermination of Slavonic and Jewish people, maybe it was possible to avoid it in 1939 (by concession towards Hitler) but it would only put off the war in time. Creation of the ¦quot;Lebensraum¦quot; on East was the Hitler and his followers main goal and represented by Steinbach German victims of the war can blamed only him for their misery.
17:54 September 10, 2010 by Kennneth Ingle
FunkyKoval¦#39;s comments may be his genuine opinion, but have little to do with the facts. These can be found by all who may be interested, by just looking at old documents of all the countries later involved in the second world war. Just one example is the Polish Magazine Mocarstwoicwec written in 1930.

Hitler is rightly blamed for many crimes. The internment and deportations of Germans, in areas taken by Poland, were certainly also made worse by his actions! They been started however, long before he took power, namely between the two world wars.

We should not excuse the Nazis for any wrongs which they did, but that is no reason not to tell the truth about other crimes against humanity. The slander against Frau Steinbach, is in my opinion, nothing more than a deliberate political attempt to keep her quiet.
19:17 September 10, 2010 by FunkyKoval
No one is attacking Frau Steinbach for telling the truth about crimes against humanity, only for her lies about the reasons of the WW2. Facts are that the Third Reich had attacked Poland, not opposite. It was not a subject for discussion for more than 50 years, if the relativization of the history will go further, after the next 50 years we will hear that poor Germany was a victim of blood hungry Poles and Jews...

I was not able to read the magazine that You have mentioned (mostly because you probably have made a mistake in the title so it is impossible to find it) so I cannot answer on that argument. You have also not specified about which internment and deportations you had in mind, however I know that no concentration or death camp was built in Poland for Germans. During the war, nearly 20% of Polish citizens were killed, that means that nearly a 1000 were killed every day. I'm sure that no internment or deportation can be compared with that...
20:36 September 10, 2010 by Logic Guy
Well, I must also say that it's one thing to desire the truth, but it's altogether something different to accept it. The latter has proven to be an extraordinarily difficult for humans.

The fact is, without high self-esteem, it is impossible to absorb the truth.

Sure, a person can listen to factual information all day long, and for many years and still not apply it to their lives.

I agree with Socrates, Plato and other ancient philosophers, in that pleasure and morality must be one in the same. And that humans must venture beyond their own world to reach the zenith.
15:07 September 11, 2010 by Talonx
@ Logic Guy

The psychological sciences tell us the feeling of pleasure, like pain, is always accompanied by emotion, that it is impossible to turn this off. Further, it is well known that emotion is a necessary part of higher-level decision making, without it we could not make decisions concerning future reward and punishment, cost-benefit analysis is based on emotional valences and would be meaningless without them. Why is life good and death bad? Because of what we feel about them emotionally, that's right, the difference in cost-benefit analysis is only emotional .
03:13 September 12, 2010 by ww77ww
@ Koval

Perhaps a rabid Polish nationalist living in the UK or USA? Which statements by Steinbach or people here are incorrect? I see a lot of insinuation and finger pointing about lies, but no specific rebuttal.

"German victims of the war can blamed only him for their misery. "

Uncalled for. More than 2 million innocents died AFTER VE-Day. The "liberators" had the ability to be every bit as unjust and brutal as the scum they ousted from power, proven by their own empires and their actions in Germany.

Germany remains in a sad position when any questioning of such injustice gives one the tired and strawman "Nazi" label.,
13:09 September 12, 2010 by FunkyKoval
Dear ww77ww,

please look on the big picture of the whole situation: Poland nor the first nor not last victim of Hitler aggressions ­ in the following year the Reich had invaded Denmark, Norway, Belgium, Holland, France... later Balkans, Greece, North Africa... then the Soviet Union. Before Hitler made the ¦quot;Anschluss¦quot; of Austria and Czechoslovakia ­ I think it is a proof that Hitler was going to the world domination and these Polish nationalists at most made Poland the first country which decided to fight against him instead of being conquered without a fight. But still, it was only a question of time, a war with France, Britain etc. would came even if Poland would be incorporated into the Reich without resistance. Btw, Hitler wanted very much to blame Poland for the war, look for example at Gleiwitz incident (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gleiwitz_incident).

German victims of the war were victims of the people who were often behaving like animals. But war is turning people into animals, the war that was started by Germans. Many oppressors of 1945 were victims before ­ they were held as slaves in the force labor program or in concentration camps, many of them had lost their families and friends in the previous years, their houses were destroyed, their neighbors killed. In 1945 they were driven by vengeance and what is important all their crimes were made on their own hand, it was not a planned extermination like this made by the Nazis against the Jews or Slavs.

No one is blaming Germans for commemorating their suffering. But for f**** sake please don't rewrite history.
22:26 September 12, 2010 by ww77ww
Dearest Koval

You look at the big picture. You are claiming the 2 million lives exterminated AFTER the war was justified? That these people behaved like animals? Are you serious? Vengeance is not justice, and your logic is defective.

You are indeed rewriting history with insane claims of "world domination". Too much American-produced documentary maybe. There was an insane vision of a pan-European empire, and like every other empire, it would be founded in murder and injustice. It happened before and it will happen again. The seeds of the war were sown long before 1939 or even 1933, and Poland has virtually nothing to do with it. Has Poland ever answered for any of its own crimes of history?

Wikipedia carries no merit in any academic circle. As I suspected, a rabid Polish nationalist likely living in the USA. Chicago perhaps? ;)

You Poles had better wake up and stop crying about Germany, put your insanity to constructive use - Russia has you in its sights, Moscow has big eyes and long arms, and will eventually control you again...
23:12 September 12, 2010 by FunkyKoval
This discussion was not about Polish ­ German relations, and I'm not crying about Germany ;) The discussion was about Frau Steinbach statement blaming Poland for starting the WW2 and I presented my arguments against this statement.

Your only arguments are like a conspiracy theory suggesting that some Polish agents from Chicago were responsible for engaging the USA into the war (for your information the Third Reich had declared war on the States, not opposite)

I'm not trying to justify murders of German civilians, I'm just suggesting that it was a part and a result of the war despite the fact, that happened after its official ending. And I don't want to use the wikipedia as a reliable source of information, it was just an example, if you want I can prove it by reliable sources (which, by the way, you can sometimes find in the notes and references on the wiki)

And totally by the way, which crimes of Poland in history do you have in mind?

And totally by the way, which crimes of Poland in history do you have in mind?
16:07 September 14, 2010 by Kennneth Ingle
It has been written by Funykoval, that no concentration camps had been built in Poland for Germans. This is false!

The first ever such camps in Europe served just this purpose. I will save time by just mentioning two taken from a long list. Szcypiorno and Stralkowo both created in 1926.

By the way, Prof Witte from the Uni. Breslau (Poland), was in Bielefeld this weekend and also does not agree with the unjust attacks on Frau Steinbach.

As a child, he was hit by Nazis for speaking Polish in his home town. Perhaps you might believe what he says. An article about his visit was published in the Westfalen-Blatt
23:47 September 14, 2010 by FunkyKoval
Mr Kennneth Ingle, can you provide me with a source of information about concentration camps build for Germans in Szczypiorno or Strzałkowo? Because, what is funny, there was a camp in Szczypiorno but build in 1917 and BY Germans for Poles ;) (for Polish soldiers from the German army who refused to fight for Kaiser in July, 1918)

I was not able to find article about Prof Witte visit on the Westfalen-Blatt website (and I'm not going to Westphalia soon ;) so I cannot answer to his arguments.
09:18 September 15, 2010 by Kennneth Ingle
My post from 12 September contained a spelling mistake, The name should be Prof. Junusz Witt. I apologise to all concerned.

My information about C.C.s was taken from old historical papers, but can be confirmed in interenet, by just entering the names (although in this case, one must be careful to avoid propaganda pages).


It is true that the concentration camps were earlier used for prisoners of war, before the change of use took place. However my information is that these were Russian soldiers taken prisoner during Poland's expansion after WW1. Perhaps you know more about this.
16:54 September 15, 2010 by FunkyKoval
Janusz Witt sounds more correctly ;)

There is a lot of opinions also among Polish historians about 1939. Most of them are trying to answer the question if Poland could avoid a war in 1939 (however, majority of them agree that Poland was like a natural enemy of Nazis who wanted abolishing of Versailles treaty - which created the Polish state - and were generally considering Eastern Europe as a subject for expansion ­ ideology of Lebensraum)

Whichever were reasons of the Polish-German war, in my personal opinion, Poland was too minor European player to be blamed for starting the WORLD war. France and the USSR - these two countries were the main targets of Hitler aggressions (despite their tries to appease or even ally with him) and the main obstacle to the new European balance of power. Conflict with Poland was just a sideshow.
13:28 September 17, 2010 by Essertpitay
Poland was in the way. Poland was going to get invaded as sure as night follows day (and the Poles knew it). To imply any other way is trying to re-write history.
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