Polish Press Review: ′Exhibit Hurtful to Polish-German Relations′ | Europe| News and current affairs from around the continent | DW | 11.08.2006
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Polish Press Review: 'Exhibit Hurtful to Polish-German Relations'

The Polish press generally responded with indignation, tempered with some degree of understanding, to the controversial Berlin exhibit on people expelled from their homes after World War II.

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The exhibition claimed a "European perspective," but some are calling it one-sided

"The expellee exhibition which opened Thursday in Berlin doesn't contribute to Polish-German reconciliation, however it can't be accused of altering the facts," wrote Rzeczpospolita daily Friday. "Everything is historically true," continued the paper, and the exhibition "underlines that, despite the agreements made at the Potsdam Conference, displaced Germans on territory under Polish administration were not treated in a humanitarian way." The paper concluded by quoting from the Thursday edition of Die Zeit, a German weekly, which had also written that the exhibition did not contribute to the improvement of Polish-German relations.

"The official opening of the exhibition 'Paths Unchosen,' which distorts and misrepresents the history of the Second World War, took place yesterday at 6:00 p.m. in the Kronprinzpalais in Berlin," wrote Warsaw daily Nasz Dziennik. The paper regretted that the exhibition seemed to ignore "the Polish-German agreement from 1990 where Germany relinquished its claim to former territories." The exhibition presented information on displaced persons from various times and places, "however, completely disproportionately." "Unfortunately, Steinbach's interpretations managed to convince many foreign journalists," wrote the paper, referring to the director of the League of German Expellees, Erika Steinbach. "Many of them think that it will be difficult to criticize her and now it will be easier for her to open the Center Against Expulsions. We will certainly be able to read such commentaries in today's foreign newspapers."

Zentrum gegen Vertreibungen in Berlin Erika Steinbach

Erika Steinbach and her new exhibit did not go over well in Poland

Zycie Warszawy contradicted Markus Meckel from the German Social Democratic Party, who had said the exhibit could overcome the controversy against the League of German Expellees by approaching the topic from a European perspective. "This is not authentic," wrote the paper. "The League of German Expellees has officially distanced itself from the claims made by the Preussiche Treuhand (a private group focussed on making claims for formerly German-owned property on the part of expellees), but bestows its people with important functions along these lines." The paper agreed with exhibit curator Wilfried Rogach, who said, "Everyone knows that the greatest tragedy on the seas was the sinking of the Titanic. But nobody knows that many more people perished on the Wilhelm Gustloff." The Nazi ship, carrying thousands of German refugees, was sunk by the Red Army off the coast of Danzig in 1945 and over 9,000 people were killed. "But what can't be found at the exhibit?" asked the Warsaw daily. "A national tragedy resulting in 6 million dead Poles, 817 pacified villages, destroyed cities, the mutilation of Poland and its subordination by the USSR until 1989 remains outside of the public consciousness."

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