Polish senior official in trouble for 'Hitler' outburst at German airport

WARSAW Thu Feb 27, 2014 7:58am EST

Related Topics

WARSAW (Reuters) - Poland's Prime Minister Donald Tusk said on Thursday he is considering the future of a senior party ally who is alleged to have drunkenly shouted "Heil Hitler!" at a German airport official.

The incident involving Jacek Protasiewicz, vice-president of the European parliament, is embarrassing for Poland because it has been trying to put aside wartime animosities to build a close relationship with Germany.

Germany's Bild tabloid quoted eyewitnesses as saying that Protasiewicz, who is also a regional boss of Poland's ruling party, looked drunk and unsteady when his flight landed at Frankfurt airport.

The newspaper said when a customs officer challenged him as he tried to leave the terminal, Protasiewicz shouted "Heil Hitler!" and asked, "Have you ever been to Auschwitz?"

Protasiewicz told Polish media he had drunk two bottles of wine on the flight but said the German official had provoked him by addressing him rudely and shoving him. He had flown to Frankfurt from Warsaw, an aide to Protasiewicz told Reuters, a journey that takes approximately two hours if direct.

"We will decide on the future of Protasiewicz and his role in the European Parliament in the next few days," Tusk, who speaks German and has friendly relations with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, told a news conference.

"No matter who is guilty and how much guilt lies on the side of the German airport workers, his behavior is unacceptable... A man must be able to control his emotions and nerves," said Tusk.

German forces occupied Poland in World War Two. Millions of Polish citizens, mainly Jews, were killed in Nazi concentration camps. Thousands of Poles were also killed when German forces put down an armed uprising in the capital, Warsaw.

The airport affair leaves Tusk with a quandary because Protasiewicz is a loyal party chieftain. Firing him could leave the prime minister vulnerable to discontent already rumbling within party ranks over flagging opinion poll ratings.

Protasiewicz was interviewed by German police but released without charge. He said in an interview with Poland's TVN24 broadcaster that he only mentioned the phrase "Heil Hitler" to make a point about how the airport official was being impolite.

He said he had advised the official to go to Auschwitz, site of a German wartime concentration camp in southern Poland, so that he could "see the consequences of when force is used by people in uniform."

Asked if the alcohol he drank had affected his behavior, Protasiewicz said: "If it was like Bild wrote, lots of Polish people would have seen it so you should ask them."

(Additional reporting by Karolina Slowikowska; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky)

We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see http://blogs.reuters.com/fulldisclosure/2010/09/27/toward-a-more-thoughtful-conversation-on-stories/
Comments (2)
silesian wrote:
The Germans are rude but Potasiewicz himself as a member of the polish-speaking soviet (stalinist) mafia occupying Poland since Sept. 17 1939 has no moral right to use the name Auschwitz.
His mafia (which continued to run the Auschwitz CC for a couple of years after 1945 even opening its new subsidiaries eg. Jaworzno) is still running several concentration camps (see: http://sbb.w.interia.pl), most of them hidden under the cover of “specialistic hospitals”, even sponsored by the EU !

The coup d’etat of 1992 (liquidation of Olszewski administration) and 2010 (the Smolensk “accident”) liquidated democratic polish government and the likes of Potasiewicz, Tusk, Buzek, Miller e.t.c. continue killing, torturing, depropriating, deportating not only the polish nation.

By means of the EU and the likes of Gazprom the soviet mafia infiltrates and explores Europe, and by means of, for example the KGHM, both Americas.

Potasiewicz demands for the CCTV proving his “innocence” but his own mafia refuses CCTV material shot while tortures of oppositionists to be used at polish “court”.

Feb 27, 2014 3:40pm EST  --  Report as abuse
According to Protasiewicz, after explaining to the customs officials that the word “raus” [which means various things depending on the intonation, e.g. when said a little aggressively means "sod off"/"piss off"/"go away" - author's translation] is, in the country where he lives, reminiscent of words such as “heil Hitler” and “Haende hoch”, the official had repeated “raus” and shoved him, after which Protasiewicz explained asked if he’d been to Auschwitz and that he should go to see what the use of force by persons in uniform (“I might have used the word “german” to describe the uniform) has led to. Subsequently he was told to follow the official to another location and after refusing and asking why (without reply) the official had called in the police who had cuffed him, taken him to the police station, put in a cell and told to undress himself “for the purpose of inspecting if I have any weapons on my person”. He was released AFTER the police had contacted the Polish consulate that confirmed that Protasiewicz is indeed an MEP. According to Protasiewicz a senior policemen had returned with his passport saying “you are free to leave. we don’t want any problems”.

Notwithstanding the rather grotesque treatment, given that the Protocol (No 36) on the privileges and immunities of the European Communities (1965) clearly says what can and cannot be done to an MEP (arts.8-10), the policemen had allegedly said “Do you know mr Lucenko? We beat him. We don’t beat you, we beat him” – Protasiewicz has apparently recorded these words, though no discernible words could be heard when the recordings were played at the press conference.

Irrespective of whether Protasiewicz’s story will hold, it is unfortunate to see that an MEP had been treated in a way that unambiguously presents a desire to exercise power, despite that the law expressly prescribes a different outcome. Being hand-cuffed, escorted to the police station for further questioning and released after the consulate confirmed exactly the same information his inspected passport showed seems really unnecessary.

Feb 27, 2014 5:50pm EST  --  Report as abuse
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.