WARSAW, Poland (AP) – The center-right German candidate to replace Angela Merkel as chancellor in the country’s September elections said he felt “deep shame and humility” at the “crimes” of the Nazi Germany against the Poles in World War II.
Armin Laschet spoke to the Polish daily Rzeczpospolita, excerpts from which were published on Saturday, before full publication on Monday.
Laschet said he had a personal urge to attend the anniversary weekend celebrations in Warsaw of the city’s 1944 revolt against the German Nazi occupation.
“The crimes that the Germans have committed against the entire Polish nation fill me with shame and humility,” Laschet said.
“This responsibility will determine our policy towards Poland also in the future,” said Laschet, who heads Merkel’s Christian Democratic party, and who is the front-runner in the polls ahead of the elections.
“Germany must always be aware of its historic responsibility for the freedom and independence of Poland,” said Laschet.
Germany was a strong supporter of Poland’s accession to the European Union in 2004 and is attentive to the current rule of law conflicts between the right-wing Polish government in Warsaw and the EU’s governing bodies.
Laschet visited a monument to the children who fought in the Warsaw Uprising and later on Saturday he was due to attend a mass and an appeal ceremony in which Polish President Andrzej Duda was scheduled to speak.
On Sunday, exactly 77 years after the start of Warsaw’s two-month devastating struggle against Nazi German occupying forces, Laschet was due to visit the Warsaw Uprising Museum. Poland celebrates this anniversary with wreath laying ceremonies, prayers and concerts.
The revolt ended with the surrender of resistance fighters from the Polish Home Army. The Germans destroyed the city, believing that it would never emerge from the rubble again or that it would never be the capital of Poland again.