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Sunday, October 16, 2005

Grandpa-gate update

Tusk defends himself against charges

Associated Press

The front-runner in Poland's presidential race sought on Saturday to defend himself against charges that he lied about his grandfather's service in Nazi Germany's army, arguing that raising allegations about relative's past was a dirty political trick.

Pro-business lawmaker Donald Tusk told supporters at a rally in southern Poland that it was "despicable" that the months his grandfather spent in a reserve unit in the German army should become a campaign issue.

"Poland does not need rulers who would divide Poles into the good and the bad depending on the ... ideology or the past of their grandfathers," he said.

Earlier this week, Tusk dismissed a claim by an aide of his election rival, conservative Warsaw Mayor Lech Kaczynski, that Tusk's grandfather might have volunteered for the German army.

Archive documents that have surfaced since the revelations do not clarify whether Tusk's grandfather volunteered or was drafted - as were tens of thousands of men from the Pomerania region where he grew up. However, one document said he sought in November to enlist with exiled Polish forces in Britain after apparently escaping.

The revelations that Tusk's grandfather served in the German army could still evoke bitter feelings in a country that suffered greatly during World War II. The Nazis invaded Poland in 1939 and subjected the nation to a brutal occupation in which more than 6 million Poles died.

Tusk's campaign managers have suggested the revelation - coming in the last weeks of the campaign - was meant to smear the front-runner ahead of the tight vote. Tusk, who initially dismissed the claim, later said he was unaware of his grandfather's service between August and October 1944.

"For me this is a sad situation, because my lack of knowledge could make it look as though I was trying to hide something," Tusk said. "If I knew about it, I wouldn't hide it."

Asked if he should apologize, Tusk said, "If anyone should apologize it's Lech Kaczynski and his associates. ... These gentlemen should apologize above all to Poles for the dirt of this campaign."

Kaczynski said he dismissed the aide who made the initial allegation.

"I apologized to Donald Tusk for the fact that certain issues which should not be discussed were considered," he said.

Polls have shown Tusk leading Kaczynski ahead of the Oct. 23 presidential runoff vote.

In the first round of the election Oct. 9, Tusk finished narrowly in front. He took 36 percent of the vote, while Kaczynski scored 33 percent


Blogger Gustav said...

Sad situation is right

10/16/2005 01:07:00 AM  

Blogger Gustav said...

Off topic:

Hail to the Victors

- just happy to see 'em win a big one. That's all.

10/16/2005 01:48:00 AM  

Blogger Bialynia said...

I can't believe Tusk didn't know, and I can't believe this is even an issue. Dredging up what an ancestor did or was is a bit ridiculous to me. Even if Tusk's Granddad was a Nazi, and his dad was a Bolshevik, why should it matter? The Russian Pravda went back even further when it stated that Alexander Milinkevich was "Polish oriented" because "his choice can be deduced from his biography. His ancestors participated in the Polish rebellion of 1863."

10/17/2005 11:08:00 PM  

Blogger Gustav said...

By lying, hasn't he made it even more of an issue? Now his credibility is in question. Idiot! But credit where credit's due, he seems to have dodged that particular bullet, and is playing the "I'm not taking part in this dirty campaign" card - which is the right one.

Can't believe this is even an issue?

How long you been around politics? No, it shouldn't be an issue, but these things always, always are.

10/18/2005 02:06:00 AM  

Blogger Bialynia said...

OK, I can believe it is an issue, but it is a reach to tie Tusk in with what his grandfather did. An attempt was made to tie Dubya to what his granddad did, also Nazi involvement: http://www.guardian.co.uk/usa/story/0,12271,1312540,00.html

but it never stuck and never became a campaign issue in the US.

10/18/2005 03:54:00 PM  

Blogger Michael Farris said...

For all of Kaczynski's anti-corruption talk, most people haven't noticed that PiS has run a dirtier and more dishonest campaign (both in parliamentary and presidential elections) than PO. Kurski was just finally a tiny bit too obvious.

10/18/2005 04:35:00 PM  

Blogger Gustav said...

I agree wholeheartedly that the accusation is stupid, as are the tactics. And it seems most of Poland also agrees. I don't know anybody who's changed their minds about Tusk (or hate him more). It has only worked against PiS.

In that vein, we can be happy I think. It's to be expected (unfortunately) that people will do their best to dig up dirt on their political opponents, and then reveal that dirt. The thing with Bush's granddad never became an issue in America because W had been called a Nazi before, and most rational people know that's poppycock - and thus the press didn't run with it (except The Guardian, I guess).

But to accuse somebody of having connections to Nazi Germany is extremely explosive in Poland, and that's why the media picked it up. To be honest, it seems to me that Tusk's grandfather being in the Wehrmacht isn't really a CAMPAIGN issue - it's a good news story - even the accusation.

But the campaign issue isn't Tusk's grandfather's doings, but rather the dirty tactics being used, and specifically those being used by PiS - which is where we come to beatroot's comment - Kurski's jab went too far, and everybody knows it. To be honest, I'm rather impressed as to how Poles have reacted - with disgust all 'round.

In America, people actually believed the Swift Boat Vets for "Truth".

10/18/2005 07:15:00 PM  

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