A Propaganda Ploy


BERLIN/WARSAW (Own Report) - Poland's serious protests of Germany's not abiding by treaties and agreements are overshadowing Berlin's Coordinator for German Polish Cooperation's inaugural visit to Warsaw tomorrow. The protests in Poland are aimed at Germany's disregard for the terms of the German-Polish Good Neighbor Policy Treaty, resulting in, the much less prosperous, Poland allocating a multiple per capita for the German-speaking minority in Poland in its national budget than what Germany is willing to allot for the Polish-speaking minority in Germany. The German revisionist "Flight, Expulsion, Reconciliation Foundation" is another cause of discontent. Warsaw insists that Germany live up to its engagement in the agreements on personnel questions, which Germany is now threatening to violate, including providing the President of the German League of Expellees, Erika Steinbach, a position on the staff of the foundation. The historian Tomasz Szarota has raised grave criticism of the institution, which plans to erect a memorial in the German capital at a prominent location. Szarota was a member of the foundation's scientific advisory council, from which he resigned in protest. Through his knowledge of the structure of the foundation, Szarota sees the foundation as a "propaganda ploy" that, even without Erika Steinbach's collaboration, will present the developments at the end of World War II with bias.


Tomorrow, Thursday, Cornelia Pieper, the new German government Coordinator for German-Polish Cooperation will pay an inaugural visit to the government in Warsaw. Pieper will confer with her Polish counterpart, Wladyslaw Bartoszewski and meet with the Foreign Minister and the Minister for Culture and Education. During her stay in the Polish capital, due to last until Friday, Pieper will also engage in business negotiations. The visit will be overshadowed by Polish accusations of Germany's arbitrary disregard for its treaties and agreements. This is putting the spotlight on the true relationship between Europe's hegemonic power and its eastern neighbor.

(No) Minority

Some of these accusations center on the 1991 Germany-Poland Good Neighbor Policy Treaty. Among other things, this treaty, set special rights for the respective linguistic minority living in the partner country, the German-speaking minority in Poland and the Polish-speaking minority in Germany. But the treaty does not place the two minorities on a par. According to the German definition, only those population groups can claim minority status when they have lived in the area of residence over a - not closer defined - protracted period of time. The treaty does not recognize a Polish-speaking "minority" in Germany. Peculiar circumlocution is used to describe this segment of the population,[1] which accordingly means they have a lower legal status. To make it seem fair, the treaty formally accords the Polish-speaking sector of the population the same privileges as the German-speaking minority in Poland.

50 Euros vs. 20 Cents

In practice even this apparent equality has not been granted. Warsaw complains that this applies to school courses in the mother language, for which clear rules are set out in the Good Neighbor Policy Treaty. The Ministry of Education in Poland claims to have allocated 63 million Zloty (approx. 15 million Euros) in 2008 alone for courses in German as the mother language. The German-speaking minority in Poland is estimated to be 300,000 people maximum, meaning that alone for school courses, Warsaw is allocating 50 Euros for each German-speaker in the country. Berlin, on the other hand, has allocated all of 300,000 Euros for its cultural budget for the cultural promotion of the Polish-speaking part of the population, which in recent studies is estimated between 1.5 and 2 million, amounting to a conservative estimate of 20 cents per person.[2] Even though some German federal lands are allocating significantly more for mother language courses - North Rhine-Westphalia, for example, allocates approx. 1 million Euros - the total per capita allocation for the Polish-speaking sector of the population remains below a one-digit Euro, especially since some federal lands do not even provide courses in Polish, as the mother language, for their citizens. The Polish government is demanding - not for the first time [3] - that at least the German-Polish Good Neighbor Policy Treaty be abided by.

Polish Foreign Minister

In addition Warsaw is demanding that Berlin abide by agreements made concerning the revisionist "Flight, Expulsion, Reconciliation Foundation."[4] Official delegations from both countries reached an agreement in early 2009 that persons considered provocative by the other side, will not be provided high profile functions in German-Polish affairs. Warsaw then made an advance concession, removing Warsaw's Coordinator for German-Polish Cooperation, Mariusz Muszyński. Muszyński had publicly criticized Germany - not without cause - and was therefore considered persona non grata in Germany. In Warsaw it was considered agreed that, in return, the president of the German League of Expellees, Erika Steinbach, would not be given a post in the "Flight, Expulsion, Reconciliation Foundation," which, for some time, is again being considered. Warsaw's current Coordinator for German-Polish Cooperation, Wladyslaw Bartoszewski, a survivor of the Auschwitz death camp and a combatant in the 1944 Warsaw Uprising, is demanding that the early 2009 accords be upheld. In one of the most influential German dailies, the German Foreign Minister, who would like to comply with these demands, is being attacked as the "Polish Foreign Minister."[5]

Not a inkling of an Idea

The Polish historian Tomasz Szarota's resignation from the scientific advisory council of this revisionist foundation is also making waves. Szarota had taken part in the constituent meeting in December, only to withdraw from the council in disgust. Szarota complained that the coordinator of the advisory council evidently does "not have an inkling of an idea about our scientific work". The foundation's constituent director is hardly known in this scientific field, while renowned experts are absent from the foundation. From among the "outstanding German personalities," involved in scientific exchange with Poland on the question of what took place at the end of the Second World War, "no one has been willing to participate in such a propaganda ploy, that this center will now doubtlessly be," said Szarota. With its alleged scholarly presentation, the foundation co-opts the "German historian profession" and will make a biased presentation of events surrounding resettlement, even without Erika Steinbach's participation, said the Polish expert.[6]

Only Rudimentary

"Germany should finally enlighten its public to the fact that not the flight and banishment of a large number of people from their traditional homelands was the greatest disaster of the Second World War," demands Tomasz Szarota: "A much greater tragedy was the banishment from among the living."[7] In the Second World War around six million Poles were killed in combat and through the innumerable crimes committed by the German occupiers. Quite the contrary to the resettlement of the Germans that followed, until today, a critical examination of the war of annihilation waged against the eastern neighboring country is only very rudimentary in Germany.

[1] "Persons with German citizenship in the Federal Republic of Germany, of Polish origins or who identify with the Polish language, culture or tradition." Treaty between the Federal Republic of Germany and the Republic of Poland on Good Neighbor Policy and Friendly Cooperation, June 17, 1991.
[2] Polen fordern mehr Rechte in Deutschland; Die Welt 21.12.2009
[3] see also Ungleiche Minderheiten, Ohne Ansprechpartner and Duped
[4] zur Stiftung Flucht, Vertreibung, Versöhnung see also Revisionsoffensive, Sklavenhalter, Days of Aggression and 60 Jahre Aggressionen
[5] Westerwelles Welt; Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 11.01.2010
[6], [7] Episode: Absage; podster.de/episode/1213821