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German president asks Poland for forgiveness

In the Polish town of Wielun, the German Federal President Steinmeier has asked Poland forgiveness for the German invasion and occupation of their country during the Second World War and the estimated six million lives it has cost.

“I bow to the victims of the attack on Wielun,” he said. “I bow to the Polish victims of German tyranny. And I ask for forgiveness,” he said in German and in Polish.

With the German air raid on Wielun, World War II began in Europe exactly 80 years ago. 70 percent of the town was razed to the ground, 1200 of the 16,000 inhabitants died.

Together with Polish President Duda, Steinmeier laid flowers at the spot where the hospital once stood, which had been the first target of the German bombers.

Ten minutes after the first bombing of Wielun, the much better known shooting of a Polish military depot near Danzig, present-day Gdansk, followed by a German naval ship.

Both presidents are in Warsaw this afternoon for the big commemoration of the German attack on Poland. Chancellor Merkel and the American vice president Mike Pence are also expected there.

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