The construction of the monument in Berlin to honor Poles who were victims of the German occupation between 1939 and 1945 is increasingly uncertain, according to various German Christian Democratic Union politicians who wished to remain anonymous.
Despite the German government and president of the Bundestag, Wolfgang Schauble, declaring support for the monument in summer 2019, there has been opposition to the concept.
A Bundestag source explained to Polish Press Agency (PAP) that a group of Christian Democratic Union (CDU) MPs will not permit the construction of the monument because it does not want to lose votes from the “homeland expellee” who were expelled from what was once Prussia following the end of World War ll. The territory was then ceded to Poland.
The CDU politicians say they fear these voters will turn in favor of the Alternative for Germany (AfD), with the MPs saying such a move is “politically unfeasible” given the potential for early general elections in Germany.
Due to this pressure, the project has no chances of receiving a majority in the German parliament. Only 240 MPs have claimed support for it, excluding AfD MPs who have always opposed the notion.
AfD’s position is heavily influenced by the party’s association with the “homeless expellees” who believe that Poland was responsible for the expulsion of Germans after the Second World War.
Ethnic Germans were not only expelled from what became Polish territory but also other countries such as Hungary and the Czech Republic.
When the mass expulsions began, many believed it was justified given the horrors and forced expulsions the Nazis conducted during the war, which resulted in millions of deaths across Europe and the destruction of cities like Warsaw.
CDU’s aversion to build a monument to the Poles could be politically damaging for Polish-German relations but there are other concerns from the Polish side. Sources speaking with the Polish Press Agency pointed to Monika Gruetter, the German government’s plenipotentiary for cultural and media affairs, who is seen as unsympathetic to Warsaw.
Gruetter is said to have shot down many attempts at institutional cooperation between Poland and Germany.
Another prominent German opposed to the idea of constructing the monument is the director of the Center for Research on Anti-Semitism, Wolfgang Benz. He wrote a letter to the Bundestag president warning of the “danger of nationalizing memory” by building such monuments.
According to sources close to the Germany embassy in Warsaw, it was also due to the fear of the “homeland expellees” that Angela Merkel had not visited the Berlin Pilecki Institute along with Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki.
The term “homeless expellees”, which are in German known as the Vertriebene, is used by Germany to refer to the up to 12 to 14 million Germans who were forced to migrate from the territories of today’s Poland, Czechia, Hungary, Russia, and the Baltic States by Soviet authorities after the Second World War.
The mass expulsion was the result of Yalta and Potsdam conferences held between USSR, the United States and the United Kingom in 1945.