Polish town to cut down 'Adolf Hitler's tree'

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Town authorities now want it cut down and burned to make way for a new roundabout. But some residents have become attached to the 40-foot oak and are lobbying to save it.

"The tree has not hurt anyone and is not guilty of anything," Kazimierz Polak said, adding that his group was appealing to local and regional authorities to preserve the tree.

"It is growing healthy and tall. Let it grow."

But the town's mayor, Maria Kurowska, said it was a reminder of Jaslo's connection to Hitler, whose Nazi troops razed the town in late 1944 as the Soviet Army advanced.

"It's only a tree; we have hundreds of them here," Mr Kurowska said. "Instead, I can plant trees in honour of Hitler's victims."

The tree also interferes with a planned roundabout that would increase road safety, she said, explaining why authorities were only now looking to have it removed."You plant trees in honour of truly great people, like John Paul II," she said. "If we keep it, we will walk in the city centre remembering this is Hitler's tree." No bias there then...

But the mayor said she had received emails and letters from residents both for and against saving the oak.

Mr Polak said he remembers the tiny tree arriving in April 1942 in a box wrapped in the Nazis' swastika flag. It was a gift from Hitler on his birthday and came from the Austrian city of Braunau am Inn, where the Nazi leader was born in 1889.

With two friends, Polak watched German authorities plant the tree with great pomp – part of an effort to "Germanise" the town, he said. continues here

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