German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier has asked Poland for forgiveness, 80 years after World War IIwhich was described as bloodiest conflict in world history.
The German leader said this during a ceremony in the Polish city of Wielun, where theWorld War II bombs fell 80 years ago.
“I bow before the victims of the attack on Wielun. I bow before the Polish victims of German tyranny. And I ask your forgiveness,” Steinmeier said in both German and Polish.
During World War II, nearly six million Polish reportedly died in the conflict that killed more than 50 million people in all.
“It was Germans who committed these crimes against humanity in Poland. Anyone calling them things of the past, or claiming that the vile rule of terror of the National Socialists in Europe was a mere footnote of German history, is passing judgement on him or herself,” Steinmeier said.
“As Germany’s Federal President, let me assure you that we will not forget,” Steinmeier said.
“We want to, and we will remember. And we will bear the responsibility that our history imposes upon us.”
Polish President Andrzej Duda for his part denounced Nazi Germany’s attack on Poland, calling it “an act of barbarity” and “a war crime.”
“I am convinced that this ceremony will go down in the history of Polish-German friendship,” he added, thanking Steinmeier for his presence.
Speaking with AFP, an 88-year-old Wielun bombing survivor Tadeusz Sierandt, said, “I saw dead bodies, the wounded… Smoke, noise, explosions. Everything was burning. ”