Polish Ambassador to Germany stirs up emotions by speaking of German war crimes

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The Polish Ambassador in Germany, Andrzej Przyłebski, has stirred up emotions following his participation in an international conference in Berlin titled ”A century of German Foreign Policy toward Poland 1918 to 2018” during which he stated that the Germans treated Poland with ugly arrogance for around 50 years during that century. He stressed that there were many moments in the 1000 year old relation between the two countries that were positive and that young Poles and Germans need to educated upon. However, the German press omitted the latter and reported only about his criticism of Germany’s actions against Poland in the 20th century.

The German public international broadcaster Deutsche Welle selectively chose to juxtapose the Polish Ambassador’s critical comments on past Germans actions with the positive comments about Poland made at the conference by the German Minister of Foreign Affairs, Heiko Maas.

Ambassador Przyłebski stated that “over half of the last hundred years of German politics towards Poland was a disaster” and that “it was an age in which German arrogance manifested itself in all its ugliness, with their interests always in the forefront”.  

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However, the Ambassador also stated that the the relationship between the two countries must be viewed in the context of their 1000-year-old history, as over that period of time there were many bright points to be remembered.

He also argued that it would be a good idea to build two museums, one in each country, dealing with Polish-German history. The museums would show that there is more to Polish-German relations than just the horrors of the 20th century.He continued by saying “would it not be nice if the youth of both countries – and from around the world – could learn about just how much good had occurred between both nations?”         

Returning to the more troublesome 20th century history, Ambassador Przyłebski emphasized that much remains to be done regarding the need to spread awareness among the German public about the crimes Germany committed against the Polish civilian population during the Second World War. He underlined that it’s common in Germany to only recognize the war crimes and genocide committed against the European Jewish community while forgetting about or trivializing the fate of the Polish population under German occupation. He expanded it by arguing that those tendencies are very visible in the discussion about war crimes committed by the Wehrmacht and in the recent discussions about the question whether Germany should pay restitutions to Poland.

The conference “a century of German Foreign Policy toward Poland 1918 to 2018” was organized by the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs in connection with Poland celebrating the centenary of regaining its independence following the end of the First World War.

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