Oak tree planted for Hitler at center of battle

A tree planted in 1942 to celebrate Hitler’s birth is at the center of a debate in a small city in southeast Poland.  The healthy, live oak tree is being eyed for removal so the city can create a highway roundabout to improve traffic flow, but the 38,000 residents are split over whether the tree should be removed.

The mayor of Jaslo is among those in agreement that the tree should be cut down and its wood burnt specifically because of its ties to Hitler. "The tree commemorates the biggest criminal in the history of mankind," she told a Polish newspaper. "Almost the whole town was razed by the retreating Nazi troops in 1944. They wanted to leave behind a wasteland for the approaching Soviet troops…we don’t need a Nazi symbol in the centre of Jaslo."

Others, however, believe the tree should be kept because it is a historical reminder. That includes the local historian who brought the tree’s history to the community’s attention. Kazimierz Polak, 81, was just a boy when he witnessed the planting of the seedling 67 years ago. He said it was donated by Adolf Hiter. “The fact that the tree was planted is just an accident in history, something which I’m sure would be of interest to visitors who come to Jaslo," Polak told the Deutsche Welle, adding “… It’s a historic curiosity. What is the oak really guilty of? It’s not the tree’s fault that it was planted here to honor the biggest criminal and enemy of Poland."

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