The German town of Loknitz has become a bedroom community for Poles working 18 kilometers away in the Polish city of Szczecin – but neo-Nazis are trying to drive the Poles out of Loknitz.
About 200 Poles have settled in Loknitz, a town of 3,000 only 11 kilometers from the Polish border, largely because housing is a bargain.
They can buy an apartment there for 3,000 zloty per square meter, compared with 6,000 or more in Szczecin.
But neo-Nazis have vowed to chase them back into Poland.
Recently some Poles woke up to find their cars damaged. The vandals smashed the windshields of six cars and tried to smash windshields in three others.
They ripped off the cars’ Polish license plates, crumpled them and left them on the tops of the cars, said police officer Joachim Rosenfeld of the nearby town of Pasewlak, who investigated the case. The damage was estimated at 8,000 euro.
Police questioned two suspects but released them for lack of proof.
Although there was no direct evidence that the vandals were neo-Nazis, Poles think they were – because neo-Nazis have engaged in a lot of other anti-Polish activity in recent months.
Mayor Lothar Meistring decries the situation, but notes that “there is more than 20 percent unemployment in the region.” In such a case, some people are sympathetic to extremist groups, he said.
Some of the Germans who resent the Poles may not realize that about 85 percent work in Poland rather than take jobs that could go to Germans.
In any case, the mayor said the extremists will not get away with hate-mongering. “We will not allow our relations with Poland to be ruined because of the excesses of a few blockheads,” he declared.
That attitude has made the mayor enemies. Someone recently scrawled on the wall of his home: “Watch out, friend of Poles!”
Other signs of anti-Polish feeling were the words “Poles out of Loknitz” on the wall of another building and someone setting afire the doormat outside a Polish family’s home.
Polish families also have had their doorbells rung in the middle of the night, and have seen neo-Nazi leaflets threatening to harm Poles settling in Germany.
In addition, “German children have beaten and spit on my children,” said a Polish woman.
“They are taught this in their homes,” said one of the men whose cars were damaged, the owner of a fish smokehouse. “Their parents set their children against us.”
He said he plans to return to Poland because of the intimidation and because Germans are boycotting his business. ” I will close my business and move somewhere else,” he said.
Neo-Nazis want to see the return of the policies of Adolf Hitler. They also want to see the German-Polish border redrawn. They resent the fact that Germany lost much of its Polish territory after World War II.