DUESSELDORF, West Germany — Poland's Solidarity leader, Lech Walesa, began a five-day visit to West Germany on Tuesday with a plea for Western aid, saying that Solidarity's plan for economic reform in Poland will crumble without it.
"Our victory in Poland is like a house of cards," Walesa said during a luncheon with the board of directors of the powerful German Federation of Labor Unions. "It would crumble if it were not financially ensured."
Walesa also met with Johannes Rau, governor of the industrial state of North Rhine-Westphalia. He presented Rau with a list of 16 proposed projects for West German companies in the Baltic port city of Gdansk, Walesa's hometown and the birthplace of the Solidarity trade union movement.
'Come and Rebuild Poland'
Walesa said he is extending an invitation to West Germans to "come and rebuild Poland" and urged West Germany to make a quick decision on its financial assistance.
"The East Bloc, which has lifted its Iron Curtain, can also be attractive to Western investors," he added.
West Germany has built good business ties with Eastern Europe, and the United States has suggested it take the lead in the West's efforts to support East bloc reforms.
Chancellor Helmut Kohl's government has promised West German aid for Poland, but the two sides have been unable to agree on the amount. The conservative wing in Kohl's coalition government also wants to link the aid to Polish promises to improve the condition of ethnic Germans in Poland.
Walesa is trying to secure aid to help promote Polish reforms under the new government of Prime Minister Tadeusz Mazowiecki, the East Bloc's first non-Communist government leader.
Differences between the two countries spoiled Kohl's hopes of traveling to Poland to mark the 50th anniversary last Friday of the start of World War II.
Relations between the two countries have been strained by suggestions by West Germany's conservative finance minister, Theo Waigel, that Polish lands once part of prewar Germany technically still belong to Germany.
On Tuesday afternoon, Labor Minister Norbert Bluem said he told Walesa that a month-old West German ban on Polish seasonal workers is being lifted.
Speaking to reporters after meeting with Walesa, Bluem said there will be negotiations between Poland and West Germany on a quota for such workers.
Thousands of Poles spend months in West Germany to earn hard currency, usually charging less for their labor than Germans. The practice has angered West German workers.