Christian Democrat Erika Steinbach has denied revising World War II history by naming Poland as the aggressor. Disgruntled with her party, she has threatened to resign and called for an ultra-conservative protest party.
Steinbach has placed herself at odds with Christian Democrats
A prominent member of Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservative Christian Democratic Union, who stands accused of revising World War II history, said Saturday that the German electorate would welcome a new political party right of the CDU.
"If someone with charisma set out to found a new, really conservative party, he would easily overcome the 5 percent hurdle," Erika Steinbach told the Welt am Sonntag newspaper, referring to the percentage of votes needed for a party to enter parliament.
Steinbach announced Friday that she intended to step down in November, after a decade on the national executive of the CDU, saying she no longer felt at home in the party.
On Saturday, Steinbach took a softer line, saying she wanted to make it work in the CDU but maintaining that she could leave at any time. She said Germany's neighbors hosted right-wing protest parties and that such parties could be founded in Germany too.
Bavarian state premier Horst Seehofer, leader of the CDU's sister party the Christian Social Union, reacted against Steinbach's warnings. To avoid the founding of such a protest party, he said, Germany's conservatives needed to address people's fears concerning the integration of immigrants and take concrete action in the matter.
"There will not be any party [right of ours]," he said. "We blocked them after the war and will continue to block them."
Steinbach wants greater recognition for ethnic-German expellees
Accused of revisionism
Steinbach, who, as head of the Federation of Expellees (BdV), represents 12.5 million Germans expelled from Eastern Europe after World War II, came under fire this week for defending two members of her league whose statements implied that Poland was the blame for World War II.
"I cannot change the fact that Poland mobilized [its troops] as early as March 1939," Steinbach said at a CDU party meeting, repeating the pretext the Nazis used to invade their eastern neighbor later that year.
Steinbach further defended herself Saturday in her speech at the BdV's annual "Day of the Homeland," saying that accusations that she and the BdV were historical revisionists were part of a "concerted campaign" against her.
"Everyone knows who began the Second World War," she said, adding, "Everyone knows the atrocities of Nazi Germany, and the boundless suffering that thereby came to Europe."
Steinbach, an ethnic German born in present-day Poland in 1943, renewed her call for Berlin to turn August 5 into a day of national remembrance for German expellees.
Seehofer says any right-wing protest party will be blocked
Refugees from Africa and other continents, she said, were dignified by tears of sympathy. "But when it comes to German expellees, they don't even need a paper tissue."
Steinbach had already been steeped in controversy over recent months due to her involvement in discussions to open an exhibition and archive about post-World War II expellees in Berlin, which critics say could portray Germany as a victim of the war.
Steinbach stirred further controversy this week by defended contentious German central bank board member, Thilo Sarrazin, who resigned Thursday amid nationwide controversy sparked by his statements that Muslim immigrants were sponging off the German state and lowering the national intelligence.
Author: David Levitz (dpa/epd/Reuters)
Editor: Ben Knight