Thursday, August 05, 2010

Germany / Second World War

Charges of Historical Revisionism Stir Up Berlin
Spiegel Online, August 4, 2010
Photo: "Displaced Germans in Berlin in 1945." (DPA)
"Polish suspicion of the League of Expellees has never been in short supply. The group represents the interests of ethnic Germans expelled from parts of Poland, the Czech Republic and elsewhere in Eastern Europe after World War II, and has even succeeded in getting government backing for a Berlin museum documenting their plight. Poland, though, has long seen the group as a bastion of historical revisionism, attempting to recast Germans as the real victims of Adolf Hitler's orgy of violence. A conflict currently gaining steam in Berlin appears to be giving skeptics a boost. The dispute focuses on two deputy members of the recently-established board of trustees overseeing the Berlin museum project. The two, Arnold Tölg and Hartmut Saenger, both functionaries in the League of Expellees, assumed their roles on July 8 when they, along with the rest of the board, were approved by German parliament. Since then, however, opposition to the pair has been growing in both breadth and volume.
Both have been accused of historical revisionism. And German opposition politicians have joined historians in calling for the two to be removed from their new positions. The accusations of historical revisionism against Saenger, a state parliamentarian from Hesse, stem from an article he wrote for the conservative weekly Preussische Allgemeine Zeitung last September. 'Sept. 1, 1939 is considered the beginning of World War II and is thus marked by both politicians and the media with speeches and images. Often, they use such phrases as "the world war started by the National Socialist regime." Such locutions raise more questions than they answer.' Saenger then provides his own viewpoint. 'The historical context to the summer of 1939 reveals an astonishing willingness to go to war among all European powers -- to achieve national aims or to defend themselves against threats presented by opposing alliances.' [...]"

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