Although Polish Jews in leadership have said the new government is not anti-Semitic, onlookers are concerned about recent moves to limit free speech and research, especially as it relates to the Nazis. Though Gross may not be calling the death camps Polish, his quest to uncover Polish involvement in the Holocaust has been roundly condemned in Warsaw, as murmurs about academic freedom quickly recede.
The SS 'tower of death' entrance to the former Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp in Poland, under which trains of Jewish deportees passed in , when a spur was added to the existing track. The November photo was taken from outside the camp entrance. Parliament doesn't go to Krakow once a month. Poland was at the centre of the war, but not at the centre of the peace. Some in the European Commission think there has to be a Kohl-Mitterrand moment, when the two men held hands by a World War I memorial, a statement that needed no words I am not sure I will ever see the picture of Merkel, one arm round each twin, solemn in Silesia, but perhaps such a gesture is what it would take to make the Polish problem fade to black.
Complain about this post. You are absolutely right! It's so good to see that not all European minds are so oblivious of the obvious! As I understand it, Germany has made several conciliatory gestures to Poland and all the other victims of its Nazi past. This Polish government needs to develop 21st century diplomacy skills and stop blustering and rattling ghostly sabers. Poland needs to grow up and stop constantly looking to the past for old grievances and hurts. Poland should focus on the present, never forgetting the past, in order to ensure a better future for itself and Europe.
An excellent blog post, Mark, and a situation very well explained. It's great to see the BBC's blog output maturing so interestingly. A lot of these problems the Kaczynski brothers are creating seem to be due to some rule the EU has that all national leaders must agree to the same plan for it to go ahead in any of the member countries. Just remove that requirement - make it possible to go ahead with a new plan in countries whose leaders agree to it.
Then if someone is unusually intransigent the others, instead of getting frustrated and giving in to them, will just say "Fine", ignore them, and forge ahead without them - providing a major incentive for such leaders not to be so intransigent. And giving forward-thinking citizens of their country a motive to effect a change of government. The inflexible all-or-nothing nature of the EU's agreement protocol seems to be handing the awkward Polish twins unnecessary power.
I understand the deep Polish grievances, but it is the Kaczynski brothers who are channelling NS-Regime policies, at least in terms of their persecution of gay people and their view of women as merely brood cows, with no contraception and abortion rights.
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He seems to be unaware that the German Chancellor Willy Brandt did precisely this in - in a memorial ceremony in Warsaw he knelt in silence, saying afterwards that he felt at the time that laying a wreath was not enough. This was a controversial act in his own country at the time.
BBC - Mark Mardell's Euroblog: Polish spirit
He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for this. Mark Mardell was presumably brought up on the staple diet of Spitfires and Dambusters which passes for history in British schools, which presumably accounts for the rather large and embarrassing gap in his understanding of twentieth century European history. What an excellent blog. It explains the reasons behind the Polish presidents' insensitive but both accurate and funny remarks at the summit.
It's a shame more of Mark's blogs don't get out to a wider audience on TV. An interesting post, Mark. Though you seem to forget that at least from the German point of view there were several sencere apologies to the Polish people. It's a shame, however, that the Poles have to do our dirty work. I'd rather that it was our government - given a popular mandate in a referendum - that was unravelling the Treaty. A well argued and thoughtful piece. Talking of , a lot of heartache and resentment would have been saved on all sides had Poland, Hungary and Czechoslovakia been invited to join the then EC in The essential healing process of the wounds of not only WW2 but also Yalta would have occured much sooner.
As it is, there is some way to go. What a very thoughtful blog. Mark has captured the mass Polish persona adeptly, and taken an excellent meta-position in trying to explain it in the context of the current EU situation to us readers. As in families, the proverbial 'black sheep' is the symptom rather than the problem, and unless the EU family find some way of shifting, they will find themselves stuck within the same patterns.
Maybe it is time to take our heads out of the sand and have an open EU-wide discussion about what the war actually meant to us. Maybe it is time for those stories to be exchanged and heard. A point not covered is that Polish grievances and German culpability in them are mitigated by the ethnic cleansing of East Prussia following the war, when large numbers of ethnic Germans were killed or forcibly removed. No EU members are entirely without historical sin and all should work together for future common European good. I'll second the compliments on the explanation.
My partner is German and we often have heated discussions about our understanding of the EU - its origins and purpose. Big differences and conflicts are invariably masked in the interests of getting along. It's the same with the EU too! But if Poland is causing headaches for the EU, how on earth can it even entertain thoughts of granting accession to Turkey?
For the Belgians who know their history, much shall be forgiven the Poles as it was their uprising in partly due to Polish conscripts who refused to be sent to Belgium that prevented the Tsar from crushing the Belgians' "challenge to the Concert of Nations". And the Anders army's role in Belgium's liberation in is also remembered. The question is whether the K-twins will exhaust our gratitude. I am actually wondering however if they have monitored EU history a little closer and are playing a more tactical game having seen how previous settlements have developed.
I have no doubt though that the war still has left it's legacy on relationships. I think Mark's thoughtful article helpfully exposes an important aspect of modern western European thought - but by no means as much as it needs to be exposed and explored. The Poles, in common with the vast majority of the rest of the world, have a far greater sense of history, and its injustices, than western Europeans. That power was brutally snuffed out towards the end of the 18th. Germans in combination - who went on to humiliate and persecute the Poles for the next years.
Why are we surprised that a deep spring of anger still motivates the Poles, at least in part, to this day? But in the wider world, imperialist western European powers, as well as the U. Why, then, are we surprised that such a volcano of anger is threatening to erupt now? In western Europe, we congratulate ourselves, and each other, that we've come to terms with our imperialist past and forgiven ourselves our past misdeeds and injustices.
But in psychology, and in ethics, forgiveness belongs to the victims, and we've done little or nothing to earn the forgiveness of many of them. A brilliant dissection of the issue, with indeed the only real solution. However, when sending the Germans to meet the Polish to forgive and forget, let's not forget to include the British and French as well as they never really honored the sacrifice made in the WWII by the free Polish forces in the defense of Paris, on D-Day and at Arnhem. I myself am a direct product of WWII.
I currently live in Poland , but my sons are students at London University. I therefore consider myself well qualified to make the comments below. The present Polish government, elected by a minority of the population is virulently nationalistic and ultra catholic, unlike all its post predecessors, whatever the political option. It lives in the past, constantly looking backwards in contrast with the majority of the population which is enthusiastically pro-european.
It views the EU with deep suspicion and in many ways in its mentality has far more in common with Putin's Russia than it would care to admit to. Western liberal democracy is anathema to it. It perceives the EU as a short term milk cow and enjoys "proud isolation" mixed with a megalomaniac paranoic attitude to all who differ. It can't even be bothered to have ambassadors in several other EU states, France and Portugal among them!
Fortunately most Poles in opinion polls are counting the days to the next general election when the Kaczynski administration can be consigned to the dustbin of history. I set off to read this with the usual 'I've already made my mind up' that apologies about the war was one of those feeble attempts to re-write history and turn the clock back, but your article gives such a good background that one can see the potential justification.
I don't envy your job at all, as the EU seems built on avoiding people seeing the truth behind the mask, and the EU institutions seem to have been built with the objective of allowing hidden agendas and obfuscation of their true aims and objectives. So it is good to know that you are on hand to try and dig beneath the surface and uncover what is really going in the belly of the beast.
Mardell obviously knows very little about European history. Otherwise, he would have mentioned Willy Brandt's kneefall in Warsaw in , some 12 years before Kohl and Mitterrand met in Verdun. The problem with the Kaczynskis is not that they are Polish, but that they are ultra-conservative, popolist egomaniacs. German Chancelor Willy Brandt fell on his knees in in front of the War Memorial for the Warsaw uprising as a sign of apology towards Poland and the Jews, which is in about the same spirit as the Kohl-Mitterand move.
Reading Der Spiegel on a regular base as a foreigner I am sometimes almost a bit annoyed by the flaggelant attitude when again they have an item about the 'NS-Zeit' when there is another crime that was as yet undiscovered and they have to tell the world how terrible they were as Germans If my country would be so honest with it's own history in the Congo blood for rubber? I think there is no country at this point that is so honest about the bad side of it's history as Germany. On another note about this, I suppose that the Poles are going to multiply the votes of the contemporary Polish Jews with the millions of those that 'would have been there if it wasn't for the war'in the next general election which is great because that would mean a nice part of the Polish parlement will be filled with Polish Jews.
But knowing how antisemitic the contemporary Polish society is, I do not think the Kaczynski war-calculus goes that far Why not take Turkey in and gently guide Poland to the door? I live in Poland and I find everyone I interact with on a daily basis has a completely different and opposite view than that of the "duck brothers" Kaczynski in Polish is a form of the word Kaczka, or Duck: You often see people wearing badges and pins with a picture of two ducks and a line through it.
But as with America, whose President is incredibly unpopular at this time, a majority of people voted for him them Ahh, one of them has a mole, you figure it out. Actually, they didn't vote for the President, just the Prime Minister, and his party chose the President I don't get an anti-EU feeling from most Poles, actually the opposite, but I do hear a lot of the older generations mumble about how it was better "back in the day".
What can we do? Twisted, but most of my mates feel that we just need to wait for them to die off so the younger and more optimistic generations can take the reins. Not a pleasant option, but sometimes it's easier to forget the past if no one remembers it An excellent article and one that gets to the heart of what the EU is all about - reconciliation and cooperation. Poland is a late entrant to this club despite the heroic actions of many of her people in the defence of Great Britain and the freeing of western Europe - dare we not forget the Polish airmen who saved us in our 'hour of need'.
Poland was then effectively sold out by the victors in to suffer another half century of oppression. In terms of today, I would also suggest that Poland feels sore about some of the condescending comments made by the former leaders of France and Germany regarding Russia, Poland's other great historical enemy. The behaviour of Schroeder and co towards Putin was shameful and effectively told the Poles to shut up and stop interferring in big boys business.
Some of the political games being played out of Moscow and the Poles concerns about the EU not being squarely behind them would, i suggest, be part of the reason why they want greater voting rights within it. You're right about new member countries trying to have it too much their own way. Only last summer did the EU commission say that Slovenia was one large cartel, something that Slovenia has done nothing to improve on. From our handful of votes just south of the Julian Alps, Slovenes are keen to see and have things stay their way.
In your article you have right when you said that Poland is a country that sholud be more humble and should more feel the spirit of the common history, culture etc as a member of EU, but you should know that this is the problem of all of the members of the EU — f. Brussels, Luxembourg and Strasbourg and even Geneva, if you let organisations like UEFA and Eurovision into the picture are not just on the Franco-German borders violated by the wars of the 20th Century. In a way they straddle an even deeper difference - that between Protestant Northern Europe and Catholic Southern Europe, between the Germanic north-east and the Latin south-west - in fact, the old borders of the Roman Empire It also makes a mockery of the Euro-sceptic sic claim that the UK is somehow unique and does not belong Not many gestures have had the symbolic power of chancellor Willy Brandt falling to his knees in Warszaw in Perhaps another apology is due - by the Western Allies for betraying Poland and giving it up to Stalin after the war, plunging a nation that contributed more to the war effort than France into 40 more years of submission to dictatorship.
It should also be pointed out that about half varies according to source, but definetely a substantial number of the Poles killed where Jews and Poland is not exactly famous for protecting its Jewish citizens, but rather the opposite. Talk about adding insult to injury. Interesting post, and I agree with many of the comments here. I went to Warsaw a few years ago and found the Polish people to be friendly, forward-looking, industrious and proud of their country.
They do Poland no favours. I am baffled about the selective memory at work here. Germany has apologised to Poland many times. Chancellor Brandt kneeled down in Warsaw in , and no German government of the past 20 years would have ever denied or diminuated things that happened during WWII in Poland.
Do the words ‘Polish death camps’ defame Poland? And if so, who’s to blame?
Germany has supported Poland on its journey into the EU more than any other country and is now paing for Poland more than any other country. Over the past few years, Germany paid compensation to the remaining Eastern European forced labourers, most of them Polish I don't know of any other country that did a similar thing. I don't think the problem is really connected with yet another apology.
I think it has more something to do with a bad conscience - not on the German, but on the Polish side. There has never been any official expression of regret for this.
Very interesting, but maybe worth mentioning that it is not all about ghosts from the past and Polish neurosis. History likes to repeat itself in a different form. Why not to look into German-Russian plans to built oil pipe under the Baltic sea to avoid Poland and punish Moscow critics economically in the context of Ribbentrop-Molotov agreement? From military to economic domination. Would you be able to sleep without nightmares while having Germany on one side and Russia on the other and the hidden admiration from other European countries for these bullies of Europe?
What a great article. I'm British, living and working in Warsaw. This is the first time in a long time they have been given a voice, and they're now using it. Be rest assured however, the Kaszinski twins' actions are often met with raised eyebrows here, and there are many people who would rather see the back of them. Even though the rediculous comment about the fact that Poland would have more votes if it weren't for the war, had many heads shacking over here, it is a sad fact.
The Kaszinski twins will not be here forever, but a strong feeling of having been neglected by the rest of Europe post war, will be a lot more difficult to shake off. I think that German apologies and gestures to Poland have been coming forward since Willy Brandt kneeled in Warsaw. To ask for even more would not be fair to the tens of millions of Germans who were born after the war and bear no individual guilt. Germany was also the main promotor of Polish entry to the EU and it provides Poland with its largest export market. I fear that further silly demands from Poland could serioulsy change the attitude towards Poles!
They forget that Europe in general less so the UK has experienced Germany for 50 years as a reliable, friendly and trustworthy partner who also foots most of the bill. Poland has been experienced for three years only as a trouble maker. Therefore, Poland will have difficulties to find partners in the EU for its germanophobic agenda.
Poland seems to see the EU as a permanent Potsdam conference where the big powers carve up Europe. Only this time Poland wants to be a big power also and Germany should not even be at the table. Obviously, this cannot work, because a Poland is not a big power, but a dirt poor country, b Germany is, as a matter of fact, a big power, and c the EU, as Mark rightly points out, is not a machiavellistic club in the style of Metternich, but a compromise machine.
German Camps,Polish Victims: The Irish Independent and its coverage of German-occupied Poland
Germany has apologised to Poland before and should not now be apologising for the actions of the previous generation. Regardless of this the current Polish Government has no right to demand an apology given their bizarre nationalist and homophobic policies which would be more at home in s Germany than the EU. When one thinks of the Nazi invasion of Poland, I think it's very easy for anyone who is not of Polish descent to tell Poland to "grow up".
Yes, it happened a long time ago, and Poland should have since moved on. However, I know from personal experience that not many people are aware of the communists' "liberation" of Poland. This "liberation" which forced my parents, and thousands of other Poles to take extreme measures in the 80's in order to leave their home country. This "liberation" which introduced a regime so awful that even 20 years after it was ended, its effects on the country's spirit and nationality are still obvious.
This "liberation" that other western countries failed to recognise for what it really was, which was actually celebrated in Russia a few years ago, with many political representatives attending from around the world to congratulate the soviet army on "saving" Poland from the Nazi's. Poland in the meantime was left to try and rebuild itself all alone. What Poland deserves is an apology not from the Germans, but from the rest of Europe, for sweeping its problems under the rug and choosing to ignore what was going over the 50 years after WWII. I am British and have lived in Poland for 16 years.
I am married to a beautiful Polish girl and we have 5 children, who boast the blood of the Celts, Anglo-Saxons, Romance nations as well as the Slavs. I love this country, and in spite of all its failings, it is still a wonderful place to live. My grandmother-in-law, originally from a part of Poland which is now in Belarus, escaped the advancing Russian troops pillaging as they went with her baby daughter.
Her husband fought in the Polish Army, but he never returned home, and no-one knows what happened to him. Out of all the people whom I admire, I admire her the most. She suffered untold indignity and hardship, but she never complained. The Kaczynski twins are ruining the reputation of Poland, a feeling that is held widely by Poles as well as other Europeans. Should the Germans apologize? I don't think so.
Immediately after German reunification, Chancellor Kohl came to Poland first and signed a friendship pact. It was a sincere gesture and accepted as such. If we went down the road of saying, well, our population would have been 66 million had it not been for the war, then the Irish could say that their population would be 45 million had it not been for the English massacres in the 17th century and the intransigence of the British government during the mid 19th century famines.
What about the reduction of the Scottish population with the Highland clearances? We would go on for ever and ever. We should all behave with the dignity and humility of my grandmother-in-law, stop complaining about our lot, and make the European into such a successful economic trading bloc, in fact, it would be great if we could just leave out the politicians!!
There are some good points but I don't think I agree overall. It's not Poles who have problems with Europe or Germans it's the Kaczynskis. The whole irony of the situation is that the government that causes so much trouble leads a society that, according to various polls, is one of the most pro-European in the EU.
The current government did not win the elections because of its stance towards Germany, it won because the previous government was corrupt, unpopular and inept. That does not mean that I don't agree with all the objectives of the current government. Poland had the same right to defend a certain voting system as Germany. But not in such a way and using such arguments. In this sense I don't agree with your analysis, you seem to suggest that because the Kaczynskis started talking about the past the solution lies in the past.
But I don't think it would really resolve anything.
Poland's and Germany's views will not always coincide, that's fine, only the Polish diplomacy should learn how to defend its goals in an efficient but acceptable way and not drag in WWII every time there is a disagreement with Germany. Would some gestures do any good? First, many were done in the past. Willy Brandt kneeled in front of the Ghetto Uprising monument in Warsaw.
Right, it's hard to say whether it was intended only at Jews or Jews and Poles "jointly", but it is still memorable to Poles. Second, as I said, as a young Pole I think the problem is not so much history. The "problem" with Germany is that it is such a big and powerful country which sometimes happens to have different views than Poland. I could be moved by gestures, and still believe that the Baltic pipeline is not a great idea.
And third, honestly, at this point, I would feel rather embarrassed by eventual apologies. To think that it's the Kaczynskis who would receive them Mark you said you would bet that the Hitler moustache Merkel really rankled. I guess you would lose that bet. Honestly who cares what obscure foreign papers have to say about your government? It is not the picture of Merkel displaying her chest that is raising eye brows, but the fact that the lead article was written by a political adviser on polish-german relations. As in historic days gone by when most Europeans were too afraid to talk, so it is today.
Despite suffering more than most or perhaps all other countries in WW2 Poland was largely abandoned by the West at the end of the war. In my opinion it was a moral failing of the Allies who simply left Polond to its communist fate - with Churchill particularly to blame due to his earlier commitments. What we in Western Europe forget is that Poles have always been culturally rich, well educated and a proud people.
Poland is beginning to take its place as a powerful member of the EU and those countries that have traditionally tried to run the show are not happy. It's just a pity we British have not an inkling of shame or regret for failing to stand by Poland in , during the Warsaw Rising in , at the Yalta negotiations, or during the post-war settlement.
British people died and families suffered, yes — but in comparative terms Britain got of lightly in the war. Warsaw had 1,, inhabitants in ; in it had , Have a guess at which forces suffered proportionately the highest casualties in the fight for Monte Cassino.
So, if Germany has to apologise, will the Poles say "sorry" for being anti-Semitic long before the Germans invaded them? All this apologising for events which happened years ago is a complete joke. Of course, the level of destruction wreaked on Poland during WWII by first the Nazis and also, later, the Red Army was appalling yet Poles fought courageously for the Allies in various theatres of war not least the Battle of Britain. Given that the Yalta agreement effectively abandoned Poland to the tender mercies of a Stalinist puppet government it is not perhaps surprising that Poland can sometimes be a little prickly towards western Europe.
However if there is to be a true European Union that fully embraces the full complexity of the continent then Poland's unique historical experience has to be recognised. As a Briton studying and working in Moscow, i'm a little less than enthused that the democratic reality i live, is different to the perception of Russia being portrayed in the EU. And as a staunch supporter of the EU project, and with some understanding of European History, I find it a little hypocritical of the current Polish Government to point the what seems neverending finger of blame and shame at other nations, whilst conveniently forgetting their own history in the destruction and brutal dissection of Czechoslavakia.
And that's the point. Whilst the majority of the people of Poland, including professional colleagues of mine, want to go forward, and build a fine and prosperous country, their current Gov, replete with religious fundamentalism, and clumsy thirst for revenge, including, frankly, miserably poor diplomatic skills, continue to paint what are fine and honourable people as the new 'whingers' of Europe, a title that is incorrect in its generalisation, but increasingly applied to the nation as a result of the actions and words of the Government.
The current meat dispute with Russia is a reflection of that dumb intransigence, that Lech Walesa recently described in relation to the polish president as the 'work of a blockhead'. There have been many apologies in the past, and i share the view that enough is enough. The modern nations of Europe bear little relation to those of the past, and to continue to use this as a brutal lever of belligerence and truculent demands for more them one's share smacks of the same tribalism that got Europe into trouble time and again over centuries.
This type of manipulation, using shame or awkwardness, only tells me that the current polish gov. I have no doubt the people of Poland are waiting eagerly, and maybe desperately for the next election, so they can rid themselves of the current, shameful, national representation, and step into the future with the rest of the EU in mutual and civilised friendship. It will simply be never enough because it is not about the horror of the war but the use of sentiment by this Polish government to get what they want.
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No concesions should be given to those populist politicians It is truly disgusting. History is history and let it rest: Or should we, Dutch, demand apologies from Spain for what happened years ago??? Spain's democracy lost a war against fascist aided by Germany and Italy.
No western democracy came to the rescue of the Spanish Republic. After WWII spaniards waited in vain for a liberation that never came. There was no Plan Marshall for Spain either. And yet since joining the EU we have never showed such a negative and preposterous attitude as Poland is doing now. I would ask polish politicians to please stop whining and focus on building a successful economy like the spanish one.
The Kaczynski brothers are in politics since when they were advisors of Lech Walesa. After they were loosing elections after elections and only in they managed, due to a certain coincidence, to form a goverment which has a good support in the Parliament. However, it is unlikely they will be so sucessful in the next elections. The Kaczynski brothers voice Polish id, various hidden complexes and explicit resentiments, which were essentially banned from serious public discussion, both under communist rules as well as after , when all goverments were very pro-European and liberal and, in particular, avoided to touch the topic of the Second War War in relations with Germany.
Current anti-German stand of the Brothers is much less agressive then anti-German propaganda of communist goverments before But then nobody in the West paid attention to Polish media. It should be said that destruction caused in Poland by German armies was really tremendous. I am from Warsaw, born in ties, but still when I daily bike to my work, I cannot stop the feeling that I am biking through a graveyard of eight houndred thousand Warsaw people, who either, if they were Jews, were murdered in a nearby death camp of Treblinka, or later killed in the summer during Warsaw Uprising.
Germans, in pariculcar Willy Brandt, admitted they sins against Poland and asked for fogiveness. It is not a matter of reapating it over and over again, in particular because young Germans are innocent. However, the magnitude of this barbarism is very depressing even now, and I am always very grateful if my German friends admit they understanding that is hard to live in a city with this heritage of eight houndred thousand killed during the war.
An interesting blog entry, though some things don't quite match up. Germany should have issued - and indeed did issue - apologies long before the Kazynski brothers came to power, long before there was any chance of communism disappearing and Poland joining the EU and indeed long before Kohl and Mitterrand held hands. Willy Brandt's gesture in December '70 http: The quest to aid Poland in it's emergence from communism and it's integration into the EU has been ongoing, e. Linking Poland's stubborn politics to a lack of apologies appears to downplay what I think this is about: I can honestly understand the German dislike of the English habit of constantly harping on about the war and treating all Germans as Nazis in disguise.
It is only because the English were on the winning side that you can in fact carry on with your mostly primitive and offensive behaviour I honestly don't really see the difference between that and the Polish PM duo. I am a white South African.
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When I listen to English attitudes, I sometimes think that England would do well to lose one war, badly. It would, if nothing else, teach the English humility. I always find this blog worth reading. But I nearly stopped in this piece when I reached the description of the Polish government as "ultra-conservative". This is one of those yah-boo terms which no-one ever analyses but too many commentators are ready to bandy about by way of stigmatising those they disagree with. Why not just say "crypto-fascist" and have done with it? Unfortunately it's currently being run by a buffoon government, not only out of step with the EU but with it's own people.
Nearly all the Polish people I talk to are embarrassed by the Kaczynski brothers and their backward-thinking coalition government. The sooner they are removed from power, the sooner Poland can move forward as an active and responsible member of the EU. Interestting article and even more interesting are some of the comments made by people who are not prepared to look at the history of Poalnd in full. Sadly, other member states don't care or understand the politics and history of central eastern europe.
Have we forgotten that Russia was jointly responsible for the total destruction of Poalnd? It also contributed to the devestation of the Warsaw uprising by betraying Poland in a very cruel way. This has never been addresed by Russia who will not apologise. It's interesting how none of the other 15 member states prior to Poland joining ever acknowledge this. Poland is justifiably frightened that she will again be used and over looked in matters that will directly effect her. It's also interesting to note that before Poland joined the EU, there was no talk of changing the voting system.
So why did Germany want to change it when Poland joined? The answer is that it wanted to make sure Poland was silenced and tossed a few crumbs when it suited them. Poland should not forget that it was given a large chunk of Germany after the war. The Soviet Union, more murderous than Hitler ever was, and lasting far longer sadly is the real villain here. Russia should return the Polish territory it stole, and the Poles should judge Germany on its behaviour during the 60 years since the war, not on the 12 years of Hitler's reign.
A very interesting and thoughtful blog indeed. The wounds of WW2 still run very deep within Europe both amongst the former occupiers and occupied Britain does not have such wounds and because of that can look upon its role in WW2 with the pride that you mentioned. A Finnish MEP Alex Stubb recently caused much laughter in Brussels by suggesting that the voting power of Finland should be adjusted to take into account all the wars since the 17th century, without which the population of Finland would be million now 5 million.
The Poles present went red in the face, whether of anger or embarrassment I don't know Ever heard of Iraq? The kaczynskis would just take it and try and extract more concessions. It wouldn't help anything. At the cost of dragging polish diplomacy and their own neuroses through the media. They made themselves look stupid.
At least margaret thatcher argued about something substantial. And this at a time when russia is becoming increasingly assertive, when polish food exports to russia are embargoes for reasons of power politics, when energy security is a real worry. It isn't the time for the polish president and prime minister to alienate almost all their allies. In fact it's so incompetent, it's almost criminal.
Yes Poland was treated savagely by Germany during the second world war, but it was quite capable of dealing brutually with other nationalities when it had the power and opportunity to do so. I don't think apology is an issue. I don't think Poles need any more symbolic gesture from Germans. Maybe from Russians, but not from Germans. It's just Kaczynskis' way of winning concessions. They openly claim it was a mistake that Polish foreign policy after didn't use Europe's remorse enough. So for how many months per year is the Justus Lipsus building used? It looks surprisingly clean compared to other buildings, whever I'm in Brussels.
The BBC certainly is one of the places wherein editors deliver first class quality of articles and analysis. However, this particular column written Mark Mardell, does invite itself some comments and remarks. Let me begin with the view that this article is a part of an ongoing polemic and discussion concerning the new EU Treaty or what is rather left of the EU Constitution.
Europe was holding its breath back, waiting how Poland in particular, and perhaps the British and the Dutch were haggling in the late European summit under then the German presidency. The recent statements made by the Polish PM Jaroslaw Kaczynski reflect Polish stand on the voting issue under the proposed treaty. Note that most Nazi collaborators were opportunists seeking to improve their lot under German rule, and were not Nazis themselves. One must also remember that Nazi-style thinking had deep roots in German thinking, and long preceded Hitler. Joanna Lubecka will have none of it. She comments, quote While Klaus Bachmann is factually correct, he ignores one fundamental aspect.
An Austrian Nazi, a German clerk working in occupied territories, and a concentration camp guard even if not a Nazi all represented the German state - the Third Reich. Their involvement not only legitimised its activities but also its crimes even though often indirectly. Any and all assertions that this refers just to a geographic location are simply compounding an error because people's knowledge of Europe's WWII history is not that obvious now and will become even weaker over time.