German delegation apologises for song incident in Gdańsk

St Dominic's Fair in Gdańsk. Marcin Gadomski/PAP

The German region of Middle Franconia has apologised for its folk ensemble which, in Gdańsk, northern Poland, sang a German folk song that was a popular marching song in the Wehrmacht during the Second World War.

The German region wrote in its message that it deeply regretted the situation and explained that it did not mean to offend anyone. The apology has been accepted by the City of Gdańsk and the Gdańsk International Fair, the organiser of St Dominic's Fair during which the incident happened.

On Sunday, a folk ensemble, which had come to Poland with an official delegation of Middle Franconia, before entering a stage at St Dominic's Fair in Gdańsk, sang a German folk song "Ein Heller und ein Batzen" (A penny and a dime - PAP).

The song, also known as "Heidi, heido, heida", was one of the songs that was very popular among Wehrmacht troops. Known in Poland under the improper title of "Heili, heilo, heila," it is considered an unofficial Wehrmacht anthem in the country that was occupied by Nazi Germany for more than six years during World War Two and suffered horrible losses at the hands of the Germans.

The song incident was widely criticised and described as 'inappropriate' after its recording had been published on social media on Sunday.

According to the organisers of St Dominic's Fair, the ensemble sang the song in its original 19th-century version and was unaware of its negative connotation in Poland.

"We have informed the delegation about the inappropriate nature of such behaviour in Poland," they wrote on the fair's social media account.

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