Tuesday, June 27, 2023

Polish-German dispute on the rise


Poland Germany dispute European Union EU reparations war crimes Nazi geopolitics revanchism ambition discord

German-Polish relations have been in a crisis, and the climate just keeps getting uglier, as exemplified by recent developments. For instance, Alice Weidel, spokesperson for Alternative for Germany (AfD), Germany’s third-strongest political force today, called in a tweet the area of former East Germany a “Central Germany” - thus implying that territories which today belong to Poland are German lands. This has sparked outrage: Poland’s former PM Beata Szydło, in response, said the AfD could in the future power over all of Germany, thus creating a “dangerous scenario for Europe”, because, she claims, it is a party “whose leaders openly negate the existing borders.” She added that German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has recently demanded the abolition of the right of veto within the EU and asked: “Should Europe go in this direction? Towards a German-dominated federation?” This provocation from a German political figure takes place in the context of a rising Polish campaign against Berlin.

Meanwhile, two families of Polish WWII victims are suing German companies Bayer and Henschel for €4.3 million over the persecution of Polish businessmen during the Nazi occupation of Poland. Brzozowska-Pasieka, head of the War Compensation Foundation (Fundacja Odszkodowań Wojennych), the Polish organization which  represents the claimants, claims that these lawsuits are groundbreaking because they have been filed against private companies instead of the German state. Further claims on behalf of other families are being prepared. Commenting on the lawsuits, deputy culture minister Jarisław Sellin, lent his support, saying that “German companies which used forced laborers and actually participated in crimes during World War Two were never legally held accountable for what they did.”

Considering that Polish officials back these initiatives, one must see them as also part of a larger trend and context. Last month I wrote on the legal campaign Warsaw has been launching against Berlin for wartime reparations. It is accompanied by harsh anti-German rhetoric, which often describes Germany’s prominent role within the European Union as a “Fourth Reich”.  (more...)

Polish-German dispute on the rise

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