[In February 2011], Germany's federal parliament, the Bundestag -- led by Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives and her business-friendly coalition partners, the Free Democrats -- voted in favor of a proposal which could lead to the addition of another commemoration day to the German year.
But the event up for commemoration is anything but free of controversy. The day, should Merkel's cabinet choose to pursue the idea, would be in memory of the expulsion of millions of Germans from Eastern Europe in the wake of World War II. Past efforts to commemorate their suffering have reliably elicited outcries from both within Germany and abroad. Portraying Germans as victims of World War II, after all, is always a dicey proposition.
The Berlin opposition took the lead last week in blasting Merkel's conservatives. On Monday, they were joined by 68 leading historians from Germany and elsewhere in Europe, who published an open letter criticizing the idea. ...
An expellee commemoration day is seen all the more critically given that it would receive the same status as Jan. 27: Holocaust Remembrance Day.
Why, then, did Merkel's conservatives and the FDP put forward the proposal in the first place? There are some who see campaign tactics at work. Voters are heading to the polls this year for several key regional elections and Merkel's government faces an uphill battle in many of them. Courting the expellees has long been a tried and true method in Germany of shoring up the conservative vote, not unlike Republicans in the US pandering to religious conservatives.
I always have a fun time explaining how after World War II, Stalin loaded Poland on a flatbed truck and moved it west.
I mean, he moved a country: what was Polish became Soviet, and what was German became Polish.
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