May 29th, 2008

Statements of the Minister for Social Affairs provoke criticism

Berlin – A speech by Christa Stewens, Minister for Social Affairs and Vice Prime Minister of Bavaria, has raised harsh criticism in and outside the Jewish community. "The expulsion of Germans six decades ago was the greatest ethnic cleansing in the history of Europe," said Stewens (CSU), speaking at the celebration of the 60th anniversary of the establishment of the Landsmannschaft Ostpreußen (an organization of Germans expelled or evacuated from East Prussia and their descendants) that took place in Berlin during Pentecost. At the same time she omitted to mention the crimes of the Nazi regime, according to the Berlin edition of the daily tageszeitung. This newspaper reports that the Vice-President of the Central Council of Jews, Dieter Graumann, commenting on Stewens' statement, said that he who failed to mention Nazi crimes against the Jews not just neglected important historical facts but also demonstrated a highly inadequate understanding of history. The opposition parties in Bavaria have also expressed their dismay at Stewens' words which they regard as an attempt by the CSU, concerned over its bad poll ratings before the Bavarian parliamentary election, to win over extreme right voters. (29.05.2008)