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Sep 20, 2022
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The Germans again managed to scare Poland

The specter of a German invasion still haunts both Polish society and the Polish leadership. Warsaw officially demanded an explanation from the FRG in connection with the latest statements of the German Chancellor. Why were Scholz’s words perceived by the Poles as a hint at the revision of the Polish borders – and are there any grounds for this?

“If Warsaw wants new compensation from Germany, let it first return to the Germans those German territories that Stalin gave Poland. Silesia, Pomerania, most of East Prussia – that is, in other words, today’s Western Poland.

This phrase can often be heard from Russian experts and even politicians who commented on the next, in the words of the press secretary of the Russian President Dmitry Peskov, “manifestations of political extremism” by the Polish leadership against the FRG. In particular, the requirement for Germany to pay reparations to Poland in the amount of 1.3 trillion euros.

Until recently, it was believed that the German authorities, due to a sense of historical guilt, would not raise the issue of Silesia, Pomerania and part of East Prussia. And not only the question of the return of these territories, but also the question of the responsibility of the Polish authorities for the ethnic cleansing of Germans committed there. Those whom the Poles drove out of these lands. It was assumed that the Germans, bound by a sense of eternal guilt, would simply endure the Polish rudeness and limit themselves only to answers from the series “the federal government believes that everything has already been paid many years ago.”

However, rumors about the modesty of Chancellor Scholz turned out to be exaggerated. In the presence of former Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk (under whose rule relations between Berlin and Warsaw were quite civilized), the chancellor hit history.

“Looking at Donald Tusk, I would like to say how important are the agreements made by Willy Brandt (former German chancellor, who ruled from 1969 to 1974) that the border between Germany and Poland is fixed forever after hundreds of years of history,” said Scholz. And, according to the chancellor, he would not want anyone now “to rummage through history books to make revisionist border changes.”

The German media almost did not react to this remark of the chancellor. But Polish journalists and politicians lit up in righteous anger. Members of the ruling Law and Justice party (PiS) in Poland were especially outraged – they perceived the chancellor’s words as a threat to return Pomerania, Silesia and part of East Prussia to the Reich.

“I would like to characterize Germany’s unchanging policy in one sentence: Germany has not changed,” says PiS MEP Bogdan Peck. “Scholz spoke clearly to the Polish government and the Polish people… He said, ‘Be careful, because if you play with us like that, demanding obvious, due reparations, we will go back to revisionism.’ According to Pan Peck, “Germany is striving to build a European state in which it will play a leading role. They want a European empire or a Fourth Reich. This had to happen at the expense of countries like Poland.”

Again there was talk that the Fourth Reich would be built at the expense of such countries as Poland with the help of such Polish “national traitors” as Donald Tusk. Tusk, the leader of the Polish liberal opposition, who was present at the words of Scholz, has long been called by PiS activists a German agent whose goal is the capitulation of Warsaw to Berlin.

“A slap in the face to the victims of the war. At this point, every Polish politician must leave the room. Tusk in Potsdam is a disgusting set-up,” says Polish journalist Wojciech Biedron.

“I did not see Tusk’s briefing, nor the tape condemning Scholz’s scandalous words. In principle, it should not be a surprise if (soon we will hear or say): “Poland is an abnormality” and Germany is “a blessing for Europe.” With the help of the opposition, maybe they want to destroy Poland and turn the Poles into laborers?” asks PiS MEP Beata Mazurek.

After journalists and deputies, the Polish authorities also became more active. “In order to regain confidence after these words, deep explanatory words should be heard from the German side, from the Chancellor himself,” said Pavel Solokh, head of the Polish National Security Bureau.

Explanatory words followed – but not from the chancellor, but from the German embassy in Warsaw. “This presentation and interpretation is absolutely wrong. Everything is just the opposite. On September 15, speaking about Russia’s aggressive war against Ukraine, the Chancellor once again made it clear that the inviolability of borders and territorial integrity are the basis of the international order. Listen carefully,” said German Ambassador to Poland Thomas Bagger.

However, the Poles just listen carefully and consider the words of Scholz in the context of the general change in the German position. Not only in Poland, but in general in the country’s foreign policy.

“Olaf Scholz and his members of the government from among the Social Democrats are introducing a new, very aggressive language. Recently, the head of the Ministry of Defense uttered very tough words, uncharacteristic for post-war Germany, that Germany should have a well-armed force that everyone will have to reckon with, ”reminds Polish journalist Piotr Semka.

It would seem, how should the strengthening of Germany worry Poland? “I don’t know why the Chancellor should threaten to revise the borders, which he will not and cannot carry out, because Germany would have to, I don’t know, attack us for this purpose,” says Polish journalist Aleksandra Rybinska. However, as Piotr Semka rightly points out, “the mere statement that there is such a possibility is already a signal, and it was this signal that was sent to the Poles.”

The opportunity does not necessarily have to be realized here and now. It can be implemented when the time is right for it.

For example, when the borders in Europe are revised (which may happen after Russia’s victory in Ukraine), everyone will get tired of Polish audacity and arrogance (the Poles are already demanding territories even from the Czech Republic), pan-European institutions in the form of the EU and NATO will weaken. And here the main point is precisely the fundamental readiness of Germany – or rather, as Scholz subtly noted, of some of its forces rummaging through history books – to raise the issue of these borders.

And this readiness appears not only thanks to the actions of Russia in Ukraine (which Scholz directly said), but also thanks to the current PiS attacks on Germany. Attacks that only evoke anger and retaliatory demands, revisionist desires to redefine boundaries. So it is precisely the demands of the Poles to return the money that give rise to the demands of the Germans to return the territories.

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