What's ailing German-Polish relations?

Differences of opinion currently abound in German-Polish relations. After rows over EU policy and Poland's judicial reform, Polish demands for war reparations have aggravated the situation. Journalists on both sides discuss whether the Germans still lack a true understanding of what makes the Poles tick.

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Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (DE) /

Germans unaware of Poles' suffering

German ignorance about its neighbour is also to blame for the worsening in German-Polish relations, writes the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung:

“Poland is hardly relevant for the Germans' self-identity. Most Germans feel no connection with it: for them, despite its size Poland is just one neighbour among many. ... But from the point of view of the Poles the relationship with Germany is an existential question - literally - ever since the German occupiers fought a war of extermination against the Polish civil population between 1939 and 1945. Even Germans well-educated in history are often unaware of how brutal the German occupation was. The massacre in the French village of Oradour-sur-Glane is common knowledge, but not the fact that hundreds of villages in Poland suffered the same fate.”

Wpolityce.pl (PL) /

Poles' patriotism incomprehensible to Germans

Journalist Krystyna Grzybowska, who worked as a correspondent in Germany during the 1990s, responds to the text published in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung on the pro-government website wpolityce.pl:

“With Germany's economic and financial interests in Poland in mind, a number of German journalists are trying to cultivate a milder opinion of Poland. But their attempts are rather clumsy. They clearly don't understand the mentality of the Poles, for whom patriotism is the most cherished value. ... In the opinion of the FAZ journalist, conservative Poland deserves compassion. It deserves respect for what it has achieved. However the author makes no mention of why people in his country know so little about the brutal and criminal German occupation of Poland.”