Duped

WARSAW/BERLIN | | polen

WARSAW/BERLIN (Own report) - The German Government has, for the second time within a few months, rejected Poland’s request for a contractual settlement of open questions concerning reparations. A bilateral statement, in which Berlin should declare itself in opposition to demands of German "expelles," failed because of the resistance of the CDU/CSU and SPD. Thus also the current German Government intentionally keeps open restitution claims by resettled Germans and follows the anti-Polish course of all its predecessors. Berlin is maintaining pressure on Poland, whereas identical questions concerning the expropriations carried out in the aftermath of the Second World War, on the territory of today's Federal Republic of Germany, have long since been clarified by an international agreement. Recent complaints by the government in Warsaw reveal that the German side cheated the Polish side, not only in the 1990 border treaty, but also in the Good Neighborly Relations Treaty of 1991. Long passages in the agreements, grant comprehensive special rights to the national minorities living in the respective neighboring state. But the German government wants these granted only to Poles of German descent ("Germans abroad"), but not to Germans of Polish descent. The Merkel government claims there is no national minority of polish speaking citizens in Germany and thereby falls in line with German policies toward Poland that were established practice already during the German Empire, throughout the Weimar Republic, as well as during the Nazi dictatorship.

No Renouncement

As the SPD affiliated press reported [1], a bilateral German-Polish declaration was not reached concerning reparations claims for resettled Germans. The Polish Foreign Minister had demanded such a declaration last week, when her German counterpart, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, was in the Polish capital for discussions. The background for this demand are the activities of the "Prussian Trust GmbH and Co. KG", a consortium in the entourage of the associations of expellees, who, through law suits before international courts, seek to claim former property of resettled Germans.[2] In Poland, as in numerous other liberated countries, property and real estate of German Nazi collaborators and profiteers were expropriated after the Second World War - in accordance with international legal norms.[3]

"Merely de Facto"

Similar procedures that had been carried out in the Soviet Occupation Zones of today's federal German states of Thuringia, Saxonia, Saxonia-Anhalt, Brandenburg and Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, have long since been issued a conclusive regulation in the so-called Four-Plus-Two Treaty, from September 12, 1990. In the treaty, as was confirmed by the German Constitutional Court, the expropriations carried out there during the period between 1945 and 1949 were "explicitly recorded as unalterable, with the participation of the Federal Republic of Germany." Germany had thereby freed itself from having a possible legal obligation to pay restitution and remuneration. This has been denied to Poland. As the German Supreme Court stresses, "the German-Polish Border Treaty contains no such regulation concerning any sort of compensation for loss of property".[4] Germany "simply [explains] that it, as a subject under international law, does not raise territorial claims against the Republic of Poland". According to the Constitutional Court’s concluding decision, this treaty contains "no - not even a tacit - renunciation of existing property rights or claims concerning German private citizens". "The treaty merely confirms the de facto long existing border between Germany and Poland."[5]

Ambiguous

To this day, the German government clings to these ambiguous formulations. They invite private citizens and German non-governmental organizations to raise litigation claims in the billions and to engage international courts. The resulting legal insecurity in Poland provide outstanding toe holds for German foreign policy’s political extortion or compensation maneuvers. This is the tactical backdrop behind Chancellor Merkel’s rejecting the Polish President’s desire to once and for all resolve the open questions through a bilateral treaty in October - using the Four-Plus-Two Treaty as a model.[6]

"Naturally on the Table"

Berlin’s equivocations in regards to Poland are systematic and are applied also in other cases. Concerning "expellees’" demands to the Czech Republic, former Chancellor Kohl declared in January 1997: "the question of property, naturally remains on the table." Berlin handles the Yugoslav successor states with similar insolence. "The German Government made allusion to the remuneration interests that German citizens raise to the Croatian government", the undersecretary of state in the Foreign Office, George Boomgarden, laconically said in 2005 [7] - as though the "German citizens’ remuneration interests" toward Germany’s neighbors stand in no relationship to German foreign policy and would be only the private affairs of the Petitioners. In reality the German government can forbid actions by its citizens, if these endanger peace and the peaceful coexistence of peoples.

No Action

The recently expressed complaints of the Polish government reveal that the German side cheated the Polish side, not only in the German-Polish Border Confirmation Treaty (November 14, 1990), but also in the German-Polish "Good Neighborly Relations and Friendly Cooperation Treaty," from June 17, 1991. Long passages of the treaty, approximately one-fifth of the entire text, refer to the German-speaking minority in Poland ("Germans abroad") and/or to the Polish speaking minority in Germany. Both minorities are granted respectively comprehensive special rights. As the Polish Foreign Minister Fotyga recalls, her predecessor, at the time, and his German counterpart explicitly agreed in a supplementary exchange of notes, "Germany will protect the rights of those persons on its territory, who are of Polish descent or are conscious of their Polish language and identity".[8] Foreign Minister Fotyga assesses: "Until now, this obligation has not been put into action." On several occasions, german-foreign-policy.com has reported on similar complaints of the Polish minority in Germany.[9]

Anti-Polish

The reason for this ignorance is Berlin’s blood policy, that accords special rights only to "autochthonous" minorities. With this scientific sounding technical term, the German government refers to tribal collectives that can trace their German settlement history back to antiquity and can claim blood heritage. Poles who immigrated to Germany two centuries ago are practically excluded from this group. As former farmers, recruited by the German Empire for the industrialization surge on the Rhine and Ruhr, in the so-called founder years, they are still today considered as settler "migratory workers". Already during the time of the Kaiser, tens of thousands of Poles were refused every protective status, even though they began a new life under miserable work conditions and in a culturally strange environment. They had neither German civil rights nor were they recognized as a minority. This consciously anti-Polish policy was the subject of numerous debates in the German Reichstag and was continued in the period of the Weimar Republic. The Nazi regime built these humiliating prejudices and chauvinism into the campaign of annihilation carried out against the Polish nation.

Police Informers

During the post-war period the German government also attempted to violate the rights of the Polish minority living in Germany. Ministries in Bonn consistently used former Nazi functionaries, whose anti-Slav chauvinism was notorious. Police informers from the "Federalist Union of European Ethnic Groups" (FUEV) were consulted at meetings in the Interior Ministry or in the Ministry for All-German Affairs on how to "promptly recognize and if possible repudiate the unpopular demands of Poles living in Germany".[10] The recommended trick advised for application was to consider the Polish minority insufficiently "autochthon," stigmatizing their members as refugee stragglers or migratory immigrant laborers.

Void

Berlin uses this trick still today and keeps Warsaw at bay. "The Federal Government maintains that there is no Polish minority in Germany, because legally only the 'historically' settled groups can be considered minorities, but not refugees and migrant workers", reports the Polish Foreign Minister, Fotyga, concerning her negotiations with officials in Berlin. In effect, according to an Interior Ministry statement, "the question of recognizing the Poles living in Germany as a national minority" currently has no relevance.[11] Therefore, at present, large sectors of the German-Polish Neighborhood Treaty are void, because it lacks the conditions of reciprocity.

[1] Warschau: Deutschland diskriminiert Polen; Frankfurter Rundschau 05.02.2007
[2] s. dazu Fristen (I), "Eigentümer an Grund und Boden", "Geklautes Land", Polnische Warnung und Kein Tabu
[3] Grundlage von Enteignung und Umsiedlung war das Potsdamer Abkommen vom 2. August 1945, das seine nationale Umsetzung unter anderem in den Benes-Gesetzen (Tschechische Republik), den Bierut-Gesetzen (Polen) oder den AVNOJ-Gesetzen (Jugoslawien) fand.
[4] Bundesverfassungsgericht (3. Kammer des Zweiten Senats), Beschluss vom 05.06.1992 (2 BvR 1613/91 u.a.), EuGRZ 1992, 306 (ZaöRV 54 [1994], 476)
[5] Kritiker stellen fest, dass die Formulierungen des Deutsch-Polnischen Grenzvertrags nicht den allgemein üblichen Standards des internationalen Rechts entsprechen, sondern bezüglich des Grenzstatus minderwertige Begriffe verwenden. german-foreign-policy.com berichtete ausführlich: Grenzfragen und Interview mit Christoph Koch.
[6] s. dazu Umklammert
[7] s. dazu Umfassende Ansprüche
[8] "Assimilierungspolitik der deutschen Behörden"; Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 02.02.2007
[9] s. dazu Ungleiche Minderheiten und Ohne Ansprechpartner
[10] Walter von Goldendach, Hans-Rüdiger Minow: Von Krieg zu Krieg. Die deutsche Außenpolitik und die ethnische Parzellierung Europas, 3. Auflage, München 1999
[11] Außenministerin klagt über schlechte Behandlung ihrer Landsleute in Deutschland; Die Welt 02.02.2007