Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Poles lose Erika Steinbach defamation case

The Court of Appeal in Cologne, Germany, has ruled that Poles distributing leaflets depicting Erika Steinbach with a figure from the Nazi SS libeled the head of the German Federation of Expellees.

The Court of Appeal has agreed with a lower court which previously forbade members of Polish Trusteeship (Powiernictwo Polskie) to distribute the leaflet. It also ordered them to pay Erika Steinbach 50,000 euro in damages, as well as to cover the costs of trial.

The offending leaflet, which shows the German Federation of Expellees head Erika Steinbach - who represents the interests of Germans who were either expelled after World War II or fled their homes in Central and Eastern Europe – with an SS man and a medieval knight who appear on the leaflet is accompanied by a a phrase of a speech by Adolf Hitler.

Erika Steinach, offended when she learnt about the leaflet, sued the Polish Trusteeship for deformation of character. The trustee members in turn, claim that they had a right to demonstrate against the dangerous activity of the Federation of Expellees.

"I didn’t expect any other verdict," said Senator Dorota Arcieszewska – Mieleczyk of the Polish Trusteeship, adding that it will not hinder her association's battle with Steinbach.

Erika Steinbach's Federation of Expellees came in for strong criticism in Poland, after the newspaper Rzeczpospolita reported in 2003 that at a meeting of her federation, materials glorifying the 1939 invasion of Poland were available for sale.