AIn Warsaw, nnalena Baerbock called for people to look to the future, despite the war in Ukraine, despite Poland’s demands for reparations from Germany and other controversial German-Polish issues. “The good news is that we have a common future,” said the Foreign Minister on Tuesday after meeting her Polish counterpart, Zbigniew Rau. “There can’t be as much separating us as connecting us!”
At the reception of the German Embassy on the Day of German Unity on Monday evening, she said remarkable sentences in front of hundreds of guests. They actually contained things that were taken for granted, but during Russia’s war of aggression they sounded completely new. Perhaps they will go down in history as the Baerbock Doctrine. With a view to the 1980s and the Polish citizens’ movement Solidarność (“without Solidarność there would have been no fall of the wall in our country”) she made a solemn promise to all “allies and neighbors”. Literally, Baerbock said: “Just as you were there for us, we will now be there for you. That applies to Ukraine, but it also applies to Poland. We will be there for you just as you were there for us when we needed you most. Because the security of Eastern Europe is Germany’s security. You can count on that.” The EU praised them extensively as “our common life insurance” without even mentioning NATO in their speech.
Note not handed over with demands for reparations
At the same time, the Green Foreign Minister spoke of the danger of an “erosion” of what had been achieved in the German-Polish neighborhood agreement of 1991. Hamburg’s Interior Senator Andy Grote (SPD) – the Hanseatic city was the “guest country” of the celebration this time – tried in his speech to convince the Poles of the seriousness of the German “turning point” after the outbreak of war. “This is more than any debate term.”
On October 3 of all days, however, Minister Rau signed the note on reparation claims of 1.3 trillion euros for damage and casualties during the Second World War. It is supposed to get to Berlin “by courier”, as was learned in Warsaw, so it was not handed over to the minister personally. From Berlin’s point of view, the question of reparations has been closed, said the Foreign Minister.
At the same time, Baerbock assured: “Germany stands by its historical responsibility without ifs and buts.” It remains “our eternal task to remember the millionfold suffering that Germany has done to Poland,” said the minister. The “inhuman campaign of oppression, Germanization, pure annihilation” “produced a completely different pain in Poland than in other places”. The memory of this must also be kept alive among young people in Germany. It is “always noticeable how present this pain is to this day,” said Baerbock. “And not just in 90-year-olds, but also in 9-year-olds because that pain is passed down through the generations.”
Connoisseur of German-Polish relations criticized Rolle von der Leyens
Baerbock, whose grandparents had come to Germany from Upper Silesia as emigrants, admitted that Germany had to take a closer look at possible shortcomings of its own, for example in education policy. She was alluding to the native language teaching for Poles in Germany and Germans in Poland, which was anchored in the 1991 Neighborhood Agreement. Your host Rau, a doctor of law, said on the issue of reparations that he was “convinced that the position of the German government will evolve as a result of the dialogue”. If only because there is no moral system, no legal order “in which the perpetrator of a crime is empowered to independently and solely determine the extent of his guilt, but also the extent and duration of his responsibility”.
A Warsaw veteran of Polish-German cooperation, who has had ties to the neighboring country since his study visit to Germany, summed up what was heard in the Warsaw government camp as follows: “Ursula von der Leyen, federal minister for 14 years, now head of the At the beginning of the summer, the EU Commission announced an agreement with Warsaw in the dispute over the rule of law in Poland and, in connection with this, the release of the Corona recovery fund for Warsaw.”
But then her deputy Věra Jourová got in the way and publicly demanded improvements from Poland. “Under pressure from other EU commissioners, von der Leyen had to turn around. And that was exactly when Warsaw pulled out the long-completed report on the war damage.” Von der Leyen then also “saddled on it”. Today, judges suspended under the PiS government can be reinstated in individual procedures, which Brussels has demanded. “But the European Commission wants the status of hundreds of judges in Poland to be automatically called into question because of the way they are appointed. This is unheard of. Has something like this already existed in any country?” asks the expert.