Poland, Germany and the shadow of war


The Second world war, characterizes the German-Polish relationship until today. The demands for reparations, and plans for a memorial for the Polish victims show that the Assault throws on Poland, still his shadow.

Poland was not only the first victim of Germany in the Second world war. It had to complain about in terms of the total population, most of the dead. Also, the destruction of Polish cities and cultural goods has been devastating.

Of the extent of the damage, even 80 years after the attack on Poland only a few Germans know, however. The German foreign Minister, Heiko Maas, acknowledged the other day, when he because of the 75. Anniversary of the Warsaw uprising in the neighboring country visited.

Memory strengths

Also Leo mouse Bach shares this opinion. “We know very little about what we have in the Second world war, the poles did, and how many open wounds it leaves behind until today,” said the young German, who lives in Warsaw and in the trade and economic cooperation is active. Mouse Bach explains why the dialogue is also 80 years later: “The attack on Poland is playing in September 1939, in fact, no great role in German memory, while the resistance to the brutal German occupation is a core element of the Polish identity.” As long as the Germans don’t understand it, the reconciliation, as well as the European integration is difficult.

Tremendous devastation: German Bomber in 1939 over Poland

The German is therefore committed to a new monument in Berlin. Poland has been trying for years for a memorial to the Polish victims of the German occupation of recalls can be. So far, little has happened. You should not think of the victims in a national Dimension, it is not all groups of victims could get a separate monument, so the previous reasoning from Germany.

Just before the 80. Anniversary of the German Invasion, but it is a little. 240 members of Parliament of all parties represented in the Bundestag – with the exception of the right-wing populist AfD in support of the project. Such a monument could employ to encourage “more with the Polish suffering under German occupation”, said recently President of the Bundestag Wolfgang Schäuble. Also foreign Minister Heiko Maas spoke clearly to the monument idea: “This is long overdue.”

Serious Mortgage

After 1945 Poland and the Federal Republic of Germany were of several decades of no diplomatic relations. Only the visit of Willy Brandt in 1970 broke the ice. However, the path to normalcy is still ongoing.

Willy Brandt’s knee fall, 1970, in Warsaw, was a milestone on the way to an improvement in relations

Until 1990, the Federal Republic of Germany officially recognized the Oder-Neisse border with Poland. The government of the GDR accepted them only to pressure from Moscow and without the social discussion. Shortly before the German reunification, and on pressure from the allies realized Germany in the framework of the negotiations of the Two-plus-Four Treaty, its Eastern border is finally what brought the breakthrough for the neighborhood.

The 90s are considered the Golden in the mutual relations. The contacts at all levels took care. Germany supported Poland’s accession to NATO and the EU.

New Miss Sounds

But the sounds are again heard miss in the relationships. In Poland, for example, of suspicious that you discovered in Germany, the own victims of expulsion a new. Polish historians and politicians miss sometimes the note that this expulsion was a consequence of German Aggression.

Also the growing right-wing populism in Germany are concerned many poles. The AfD Chairman Alexander Gauland, spoke of Nazism as “bird shit of the story,” during the Thuringian AfD-land-in-chief Björn Höcke, has called a “politics of remembrance turning 180 degrees”. The sows distrust.

The AfD Chairman Gauland has referred to Nazism as “bird shit of the story”

Add to that political differences of opinion, even on a European level, about the issue of refugee policy or the rule of law in Poland. The colors on other areas. The Bonn-based historian Prof. Martin Aust advises, you should not do in the political struggle “deliberately to confuse the Polish society with the Polish government”.

Demands for reparations would strengthen populism

A theme that represents the relationship again on a stress test, are reparations claims. The PiS-government talks, which wanted to address previous Polish governments: “More than a thousand Polish villages were of German wiped out,” said recently in an Interview with the Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki. “The sum we require, we will identify serious,” he announced.

The government has made no concrete demands. A Sejm Commission has been working for two years to the calculation. In the autumn they should be presented. So far, the talk is of around 800 billion euros in possible compensation sum.

The Polish foreign Minister Jacek Czaputowicz spoke recently of a “lack of Fairness” and “discrimination” of his country by Germany. Other countries had been treated in relation to their war damage better. For the Federal government, the question, however, is completed for a long time “legally and politically”. At the same time, always stressed the moral responsibility of Germany.

Foreign Minister Maas (l.) and Czaputowicz: Get reparations back on the agenda?

The historian Martin Aust would understand Polish sensitivities, it is politically unwise to make demands for reparations. Because that would “pour Oil on the fire of populism” in Germany and the bilateral relations burden.

Difficult dialogue is

In Poland you can see the different. “Our relationship is so good that it can withstand an open and honest debate on difficult topics,” says Ryszard Czarnecki, a PiS Deputy in the European Parliament. The politician was not expected by the German government that they denied the issue. “It is precisely this no-attitude, the result is that we are talking past each other,” he says, and adds, it was “sure that there will be between Germany and Poland, for example, negotiations on reparations, in any Form”.

Whether such claims are in the correct Form of the future Dialogue, because Leo Mausbach doubt. The young German was surprised, as the topic was suddenly addressed by the policy. But “the shock came when I realized that my Polish friends, who else can do much with this government, in this respect, are of the same opinion,” says Mausbach. It will not make him thoughtful, how strong is the feeling of injustice and understood to be becoming in Poland. Nevertheless, he believes that a debate and even disputes are not a burden on the present-day relationships is crucial.

In this charged Situation, the commemoration is taking place at the beginning of the war and the German invasion of Poland. Three presidents will hold the official memorial event in Warsaw, a speech: to the Polish, German and Donald Trump.