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Germany and Poland try reconciliation 2.0

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19.05.2017

We were certain that the war had ended long ago. We watched as Germany, sometimes at the urging of outsiders, confronted the ghosts of its past. We witnessed tens of thousands of weddings between German and Polish partners. We listened to reports documenting historic levels of trade between the two countries.

Now, German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier is in Poland and Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel is on his way. Officially, Steinmeier is there to visit the Warsaw Book Fair. Behind closed doors there is talk of the sensitivity of the visit.

Gerhard Gnauck is the product of a German-Polish marriage: He is the grandson of a participant in the Warsaw Uprising and a German Wehrmacht soldier. He is a correspondent for the German newspaper Die Welt, and lives in Warsaw

Some magazines have taken the opportunity to run images of European Council President Donald Tusk, Poland's former prime minister and the current government's favorite enemy, in a Nazi military uniform next to Chancellor Angela Merkel (not in uniform). Complaints of being "subservient to Germany" are once again being heard in Poland. Before moving on to the European Union, Tusk got a taste of just how dangerous it can be when enemies start playing the "German card." During an election campaign about 12 years ago, his opponents from Jaroslaw Kaczynski's Law and Justice (PiS) party made a campaign issue out of the fact that Tusk's grandfather (after having been imprisoned in one of Nazi Germany's concentration camps) had been coerced into serving in the German army. Tusk lost the election.

'Shared conflicts'

Today, some politicians and publishers in Poland want to replace common interests with "shared conflicts." That makes it all the more important to recall what men and women, often eyewitnesses to war and, in one form or another, victims of the Nazi regime, have done to facilitate understanding between the people of both nations.

Coincidentally, two books on that subject have been published in the past year. The books compliment one another: One deals with Germany's encounters with its eastern neighbor, and the other with Poland's encounters with its western neighbor. If German-Polish understanding and reconciliation is seen as a priceless treasure in the eyes of........

© Deutsche Welle