Maas asks Poland for forgiveness for Nazi crimes

75 years ago, the uprising in Warsaw began against the Nazi regime. On the occasion of the anniversary, Foreign Minister Heiko Maas visited the Polish capital – and found clear words.

On the 75th anniversary of the Warsaw Uprising against the German occupying forces, Foreign Minister Heiko Maas has asked Poland for forgiveness for the Nazi crimes. “I am ashamed of what was done to your country by Germans and in the German name, and I am ashamed that this debt was kept secret for far too long after the war,” he said Thursday in the Museum of the Warsaw Uprising in Polish Capital.

At the same time, he spoke out in favor of a memorial for the Polish victims of Nazi rule in Berlin. “This is long overdue,” said the SPD politician. “Such a memorial would not only be a gesture of reconciliation with Poland, but it would also be significant for us Germans.” The crimes could not be undone and many wounds would never heal. “But we can help ensure that the victim is thought of and appropriate.”

In Berlin there are already monuments for individual groups of victims of the Nazi era. The largest and most famous is the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe next to the Brandenburg Gate. In addition, there are also monuments to the murdered Sinti and Roma and homosexuals. Polish politicians have been calling for a memorial to the Polish victims for a long time. Meanwhile, there is also an initiative by members of parliament of all fractions – except the AfD.

On August 1, 1944, the Armia Krajowa – the Polish Home Army – had risen against the occupying power of the Nazis. After 63 days, the Warsaw Uprising was bloodily defeated. About 200,000 Polish soldiers and civilians were killed during the fighting, and about half a million were subsequently deported. In revenge, the Polish capital was almost completely razed by the Nazis. Maas is the highest-ranking German guest in commemoration of the uprising since Chancellor Gerhard Schröder, who was in 2004 for the 60th anniversary in Warsaw.

Is the German forest facing collapse?

German forests are suffering from drought, pests and storms. Calls for effective and fast help have become louder. The Union-led forestry departments of the federal states are calling for a master plan.

The German forest has many enemies. Because it storms more often and more violently, the forest is, according to statements of the Federal Environment and Nature Conservation, stressed. Massive forest damage, from the Baltic Sea to Lake Constance, is the result.

The BUND speaks after the forest dying in the 1980s already from the “Forest Dying 2.0.” At that time, due to the altered ph value in the soil, trees dropped leaves and needles and died.

Klöckner demands half a billion for afforestation

At the beginning of July, Federal Agriculture Minister Julia Klöckner (CDU) called for the “multi-million trees program.” A reforestation program that is estimated to cost more than half a billion euros. Money to flow from the Energy and Climate Fund. On Thursday, Klöckner will meet representatives from Saxony, Lower Saxony, North Rhine-Westphalia, Baden-Württemberg and Bavaria in Moritzburg near Dresden. Also, Saxony’s Prime Minister Michael Kretschmer wants to be there. Together they want to visit in Auer near Moritzburg a badly pulled wooded area.

Klöckner also wants to convene a national forest summit in September. “Our forest is massively damaged,” she told the “Rheinische Post.” “It is only by joining forces that we can do the mammoth task that lies ahead to save our forest – not only for us, but for future generations.” In August, she will hold a technical discussion with representatives of forestry, timber industry and environmental associations and science. “It’s not just about investing millions in afforestation, but also the long-term adaptation of forests to climate change,” Klöckner said.

“The bad news from the forest does not break off,” said Saxony’s Minister of Forestry Thomas Schmidt (CDU). “Every day new bad news reaches us, so we need to act urgently.” According to him, since 2018, more than 100,000 hectares of forest have been damaged by storms, droughts and pests nationwide. The Schutzgemeinschaft Deutscher Wald (SDW) even speaks of 120,000 hectares that have already died. According to this, especially spruce, but also pines, beech and oak trees would die.

Germany does not participate in US Naval Mission

Germany has not participated in a military mission in the Gulf. This is confirmed by Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, thus rejecting the US conflict with Iran.

Federal Foreign Minister Heiko Maas has clearly rejected German participation in a US-led military mission in the Strait of Hormuz. “The Federal Government will not participate in the planned and presented sea mission by the US,” said Maas on Wednesday in Warsaw. “We are in close coordination with our French partners.”

Maas justified the German refusal with the fact that the Federal Government considers the US strategy of the “maximum pressure” on Iran wrong. Germany does not want a military escalation and continues to rely on diplomacy.

Kramp-Karrenbauer does not commit himself

The US has asked Germany and other NATO allies to participate in its “Operation Sentinel” to protect merchant ships in the Strait of Hormuz from possible Iranian attacks. Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer had said on Wednesday shortly before the Maas statement, a decision had not yet fallen. At the same time, the CDU chairman did not give much hope to the US that a positive response could be reached.

Among other things, she referred to the fact that Germany and the Europeans, unlike the US, are interested in maintaining the international nuclear agreement with Iran. Germany is doing everything in its power to reach a diplomatic and peaceful solution with Iran and to abide by the Iranian nuclear bombing treaty.

Nearly 9,000 visas have been issued for relatives of the vulnerable

For a year now, people with limited protection status have been able to get relatives back to Germany. Now the Foreign Office takes stock.

Since the reorganization of family reunification a year ago, about 9,000 relatives of refugees with limited protection status have received visas for Germany. From August 2018 to the end of June, a total of 8,758 entry permits were issued, as the Foreign Office informed the German Press Agency.

In August 2018, a new regulation came into force, according to which “subsidiary beneficiaries” – usually civil war refugees – may again bring relatives to Germany. CDU, CSU and SPD had agreed after laborious negotiations on the opening. However, there is a monthly limit of 1,000 positive decisions at the Federal Office of Administration.

Sometimes more sometimes less

The German representations abroad accept applications for family reunification. The Federal Office of Administration ensures that no more than 1,000 permits are issued per month. “The applications sent in the months of February, March and April 2019, which went just above the quota of 1,000, could be considered in the following months,” said a spokesman for the Federal Ministry of the Interior.

As there is a delay between the different stages of the procedure, it may happen that more than 1,000 visas are issued in some months. At first, the new regulation had started slowly. Between December and May, however, more than 1,000 visas were issued each month. In June there were 804 visas.

Different categories

For asylum seekers who receive protection in Germany, there are different categories. Anyone who has been politically persecuted in his homeland or recognized as a refugee under the Geneva Convention may catch up with his family – even if they can not afford to support them.

“Subsidiary protection” is given to those who are not persecuted, but would still be in danger if they return to their country of origin, perhaps because of war there. This mainly affects refugees from Syria.

For those with this limited protection status, family reunification was previously suspended for two years. Adults can get spouses and underage children. The parents of unaccompanied minor refugees also receive visas.

Churches show a sharp increase in withdrawals

For decades the churches in Germany have lost members, and now the process has accelerated: Almost 440,000 people left in 2018. The Catholic Church calls the development worrying.

The number of people leaving the church in Germany has increased in the past year. 216,000 people would have left the Catholic Church in 2018, said the German Bishops’ Conference in Bonn. This is 48,500 withdrawals more than in 2017, when 167,500 people turned their backs on the Catholic Church. Overall, the number of Catholics in Germany fell by over 300,000 to 23 million last year.

The Protestants left 220,000 people from the church, which is a bit more than the Catholics. The number of withdrawals in 2018 was 11.6 percent above the previous year, said the Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD) in Hanover. The total number of Protestants fell by 1.8 percent to a good 21 million. This roughly corresponds to the decline of 2017.

The EKD Council Chairman Heinrich Bedford-Strohm said that every exit hurt. However, unlike in the past, one could freely decide whether one would like to stay in the church. “We are grateful for the many people who today choose to be members of their church out of conviction.”

On the Catholic side, the Secretary of the Episcopal Conference, Hans Langendörfer, described the development as worrying. One reason for the increased number of withdrawals was certainly the abusive study published in September. This triggered a great debate. “Many do not believe us anymore that we act consistently and resolutely against perpetrators,” explained Langendörfer the German press agency.