Angel Merkel’s new coalition is facing its first test over a who will head a museum depicting the plight of Germans forced out of eastern Europe after World War Two.
The Chancellor is under pressure from her own Christian Democrats (CDU) to back Erika Steinbach for the post. But her appointment risks upsetting Poland where she has been a hated figure since she refused to recognise Germany’s current border with Poland in a symbolic parliamentary vote in 1990. Now she says it is time to look forward. “Ultimately, this is about the League of Expellees and the fact that some people have still not come to terms with its existence. Some people in this country didn’t want it and the responsibility for this whole debate lies here in Germany and not in our neighbouring country,” Steinbach said. The issue has also created a rift within Merkel’s government with Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle of the Free Democrats opposed to Steinbach getting the job. With cabinet approval needed, he is threatening to veto her appointment to avoid he says causing further damage to relations with Poland. The 2006 German Expo strained ties between the two countries as Warsaw claimed it only showed German suffering.