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Wednesday, 29 October 2003

Presidents of Poland and Germany took part in ceremonies marking E. Brost`s 100th birth anniversary

On 29 October 2003 the President of the Republic of Poland, Aleksander Kwaśniewski, paid a visit to the city of Gdańsk where he joined the President of the Federal Republic of Germany, Johannes Rau, in the celebrations of the 100th birth anniversary of Erich Brost. In the Main City Hall, the Presidents of Poland and Germany met in private. At the Artus Court, they took part in the anniversary ceremonies highlighted by the presentation of the E. Brost Gdańsk Award to the Partnership of the Cities of Gdańsk and Bremen. On behalf of the awarded cities, speeches were made by the Mayor of the Free Hanseatic City of Bremen, H. Scherf, and the Chairman of the Gdańsk City Council, B. Oleszek. The Presidents of Poland and Germany adopted a joint declaration, which reads in full as follows: The Gdańsk Declaration by the Presidents - of the Federal Republic of Germany, Johannes Rau, and of the Republic of Poland, Aleksander Kwaśniewski, on the issue of persons who were displaced, forced to flee and expelled in Europe. In the 20th century, dozens of millions of Europeans suffered in effect of displacement, flight and expulsions. The Nations of Poland and Germany are particularly mindful of the atrocities experienced by the millions as the result of the war unleashed by the inhuman national-socialist regime. The death toll of those tragedies was counted in millions. Even greater numbers of European citizens suffered pain, humiliation and material losses. That brought about deep changes in many nation states and still has an impact on relations among our citizens. Displacements, flights and expulsions are part of Europe`s history and hence part of its heritage. This bitter heritage should lead to the unification of our efforts for a better future. We must remember the victims and make sure that they were the last victims. It is every nation`s natural right to cherish their memory, but it also is our duty to assure that remembrance and grief shall not be abused to again divide Europe. Thus, there is no room whatsoever for material claims, mutual accusations and the counterposition of the suffered losses and perpetrated crimes. The Europeans should together re-examine and document all cases of displacements, flights and expulsions that have taken place in the 20th century in order for their causes, historical contexts and consequences to become readable for the public opinion. All this can be accomplished only in the spirit of reconciliation and friendship. This will unite us even more. We call for an honest European dialogue on this important issue concerning our past and future. We expect that the persons who enjoy the highest moral authority, politicians and representatives of civil society shall be willing to participate in this dialogue. Their task will be to draw up recommendations as to the forms and structures of this European process of examination and documentation. We are confident that the outcomes of such a European dialogue will significantly contribute to the mutual understanding and the deepening of our bond as the citizens of Europe. Subsequently, the Presidents of Poland and Germany laid down bouquets of flowers at the foot of the memorial plate in honor of Erich Brost and then were entertained to a breakfast by the Mayor of Gdańsk and the Chairman of the Gdańsk City Council.
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