Polish District Puts Up Bilingual Polish-German Signs | Europe| News and current affairs from around the continent | DW | 13.09.2008
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Polish District Puts Up Bilingual Polish-German Signs

A rural district in southern Poland on Friday became the first in the country to display German signs, in what some said was an attempt to reconcile the area's troubled history.

Expelees from Eastern Europe on their way to Germany in 1945

Warsaw doesn't want Berlin to present German WWII expelees as victims

The first of 67 signs was unveiled in the small district of Radlow, which boasts some 28 percent Germans, the daily Wyborcza reported.

"You can see similar bilingual signs in many places in Europe," said Christoph Berger, a German government attorney dealing with minority issues.

"But this place where we meet today is unique, marked by its difficult history."

Officials at the ceremony said the signs would celebrate the region's multicultural past.

The area belonged to Germany until 1945, but after World War II many Germans were forced out or left as Poland came under Soviet control.

Sensitive history

Berlin's plans to build a memorial to ethnic Germans expelled from Eastern Europe at the end of World War II proved for a long time to be a strong irritant in German-Polish ties.

Poland feared the museum would give too much attention to estimated 1 million Germans who died during the exodus and paper over Germany's responsibility for the war.

German officials, however, have said that the proposed museum would clearly distinguish the historic context and causes of the expulsions.

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