Warsaw mayor bins Berlin visit

Poland's acting mayor of Warsaw has cancelled a trip to Berlin, saying he could not visit the city while it was running an exhibition commemorating the expulsion of Germans from eastern Europe after 1945.

Kazimierz Marcinkiewicz, who was due to travel to Berlin on Friday to celebrate the 15th anniversary of a partnership between the two cities, said that after the opening of the show on Thursday he decided to change his plans.

"My visit to Berlin could be misinterpreted and abused under these circumstances," Marcinkiewicz, who served as prime minister in the conservative government until last month, told Polish private television TVN 24 late on Thursday.

Poland's conservative government says the exhibition, which tells the story of the millions of Germans who fled eastern Europe after the end of the Second World War, is an attempt to portray Germans as victims of a war they started.

"I will explain to the mayor of Berlin why I cannot visit and I am sure he will understand," Marcinkiewicz said.

Polish Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski has also condemned the exhibition as a "very bad, worrying and sad event".

Nazi Germany invaded Poland in September 1939 after a secret pact between Adolf Hitler and Soviet leader Josef Stalin to partition the country.

After Germany's defeat, Poland's borders were shifted west and many Germans were forced to flee. Thousands died on the trek from Poland, Hungary and what was then Czechoslovakia.

At the same time, Poles from east of the country were uprooted from land which became part of the Soviet Union.

* The exhibition runs until the end of October at the Kronprinzenpalais and has caused similar controversy in Berlin


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