London, July 8 (ANI): A Polish town is all set to cut down a towering oak tree that had been planted to mark Adolf Hitler's birthday during the Nazi occupation in the Second World War.
The authorities in Jaslo want to cut down the tree, and burn it to make way for a new roundabout.
"We obtained information that this is no ordinary tree but was put here to mark Adolf Hitler's birthday. So should I try to improve our town's communications or should I allow a memorial to that criminal to remain standing? The choice is simple for me," said Jaslo's mayor, Maria Kurowska.
Kurowska, said that 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. Instead, I can plant trees in honour of Hitler's victims," Kurowska said.
Kurowska said that the tree also interferes with a planned roundabout that would increase road safety, explaining why authorities were only now looking to have it removed.
But the mayor said that she had received emails and letters from residents both for and against saving the oak.
"The tree has not hurt anyone and is not guilty of anything," the Telegraph quoted Kazimierz Polak as saying.
He also added that his group was appealing to local and regional authorities to preserve the tree.
"It is growing healthy and tall. Let it grow," he said.
Polak recalled that a tiny tree arrived 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.
Two years later as the Red Army approached, the Nazis ordered that the town to be evacuated and looted, according to historians. By the time they left, only 39 of the town's more than 1,200 houses remained.
Polak, now 81 years old, is the town's source for information about the tree's provenance, and the mayor noted that he is active in studying Jaslo's history and there is no reason to doubt his account.
Nevertheless, she said that the town would decide within weeks about the proposed roundabout.
"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," she added. (ANI)