Germany and Poland averted a row over a controversial museum that is to depict expellee experiences, with a Polish envoy saying he was confident he could trust German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
Poles are concerned the Berlin center will paper over atrocities committed by the Nazis
Wladyslaw Bartoszewski, Poland's special representative for relations with Germany, met in Berlin with Merkel on Monday, Feb. 16. There was no news conference, but he told Polish reporters later he was "fully calmed and satisfied."
Tension had earlier flared after Polish diplomats reportedly heard that Association of Expellees President Erika Steinbach, 65, would be appointed to the board of the planned Berlin center, which is to depict how ethnic Germans had to flee many nations after World War II.
Many Poles perceive the center as having an anti-Polish agenda. Steinbach herself is viewed with revulsion by many Poles because of her advocacy for ethnic Germans expelled from Polish soil between 1945 and 1947. Steinbach is also a member of the German parliament for Merkel's Christian Democratic Union (CDU).
Not rewriting history
Much of Poland's anger has been directed at Steinbach
Ulrich Wilhelm, the German government spokesman, said at a news conference, "The friendship, the partnership with Poland is a very important objective for the federal government." He added that this had "a very high value."
Wilhelm said the federally funded memorial would not attempt to reinterpret the history of World War II and its aftermath. He said Germany admitted it was to blame for starting the war and all its consequences.
He added that Germany's 1939 attack on Poland, the start of the war, had "plunged Europe into unfathomable suffering."
Wilhelm said procedures to select the center's board had not even begun. A state minister, Bernd Neumann, who is a Merkel aide, would meet with relevant organizations to hear their nominations. Germany's Cabinet would then select the members.
The Association of Expellees decided in April 2008 to nominate Steinbach to serve on the museum's board and continues to stand by that decision, the group's spokesman Walter
Stratmann told the Associated Press on Monday.
Sources added that the German government might postpone the issue, meaning the board could not be formed this year.
Steinbach under fire
Germany said it will not forget the suffering that Nazis unleashed
Poles have been outraged at Steinbach's criticism of their nation and her focus on the suffering of Germans rather than victims of the Nazis. In the last few years, the expulsions have been the subject of a rash of German TV dramas.
Bartoszewski reportedly said Sunday that Poland would boycott some events with Germany this year if Steinbach were placed on the board.
Markus Meckel, a foreign policy expert for the Social Democratic Party, which rules in a grand coalition with Merkel's CDU, said Steinbach should not be elected to the center's board.
"I assume Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier will be clearly against accepting Ms. Steinbach when the Cabinet meets," he was quoted as saying by the daily Berliner Zeitung's Tuesday edition.
After a right-wing administration in Poland fiercely opposed the Berlin memorial, Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk agreed to advise Germany on keeping the museum neutral. He is set to meet with Merkel on Feb. 27 in Hamburg.
Around 100 cooks and several volunteers set off to break a world record for the world's biggest stew in Sarajevo, Bosnia. They took eight hours to make over 4,100 kilograms of soup.
The Ramstein airbase in Germany has been serving as the center of the US' drone strikes in Africa and the Middle East, according to reports by Der Spiegel and the Intercept. The German government is aware of the program.
The US administration has urged Greece to move quickly with negotiations and reach an agreement with the EU on terms for its bailout. A failure could lead to a crisis in the world economy.
Making a movie is a group project. That's why filmmaker Wim Wenders appreciates the solitude of photography, he tells DW. His works are now on show at Dusseldorf's Kunstpalast.