By Wolfgang Bittner.
On 6 December 2019, German Chancellor Angela Merkel visited the memorial site of the former Auschwitz concentration camp in Poland. She said in a speech at the memorial in the presence of Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, to whom Angela Merkel explained the place and what was happening while the cameras were clicking, that she was shocked and felt “profound shame at the barbaric crimes perpetrated here by Germans”. They were “crimes that transcend the boundaries of everything comprehensible”. (1)
“Hours of humility”, it says in the German media, of the “horror of German history”, of “German terror” and “deep shame”. (2) The Chancellor promises 60 million euros for the preservation of the concentration camp memorial. She asserts: “There can be no end to this”, that being aware as Germans of the responsibility for these acts is “an integral part of our national identity”, that this is “non-negotiable”. It is further said that future generations are called upon “to see with their own eyes the places where Germany crushed human dignity, to travel to those countries which it drowned in blood.”
The German Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier had already expressed himself in the same way a few weeks earlier. On the occasion of the commemoration of the victims of the Second World War on 1 September 2019 in the Polish town of Wielun, he spoke of the “crime against humanity” committed by Germans in Poland. Among other things, he said: “I
bow before the Polish victims of German tyranny. And I ask forgiveness.” (3)
In Wielun and at the commemoration ceremony in Warsaw on the 80th anniversary of the beginning of the Second World War, to which no Russian representatives were invited, Steinmeier said with worldwide attention: “We are talking about the immense suffering that Germany has brought over Europe (…) No, the past is not over. On the contrary, the longer this war has been in the past, the more important it is to remember”. The Federal President underlined: “(…) our responsibility does not pass… We want and we will remember. And we accept the responsibility that our history gives us (…) As a German guest, I step barefoot in front of you in this place.” (4)
What was particularly noticed in Poland, after the Kaczynski government brought a trillion dollar reparations into discussion two years ago, (5) was the assurance that the past was not over, that memory would not pass and that responsibility for the horrors perpetrated by Germans during the Second World War still existed.
But 74 years after the end of the Second World War, the question arises whether the burden of the “German guilt” so recalled by Merkel and Steinmeier can be passed on to the grandchildren and great-grandchildren, especially in financial terms. Especially since Germany’s sole debt for the first and second major war after the recent historical research, which is gaining more and more insight into the archives, needs a closer look. (6) After that, Poland’s guilt in this matter has by no means been dealt with. It has also been forgotten that Jozef Pilsudski (Marshal of the Second Polish Republic from 1926-1935) fought several wars against Poland’s neighbours, promoted a war of aggression against Germany in France in 1933, and that in 1945 a third of the German Reich had to be ceded to Poland.
Indeed, in Poland and in the concentration camps in the German name monstrous things have happened, and those who deal with it cannot resist the horror. It is unknown, however, whether a German head of state ever thought of the tens of thousands of German victims in places such as Lamsdorf, Schwintochlowitz, Potulice or Zgoda, who were deported to these Polish internment and labour camps in 1945 and murdered in their thousands. (7) In 1979 there was a report on Lamsdorf by SPIEGEL. (8) Afterwards, these crimes were gradually forgotten, as was the inhumane expulsion of millions of Germans from the east of the German Reich.
War is always something terrible that makes people victims and perpetrators, and every people must deal with its guilt. Of course this cannot mean a relativization of the enormous crimes of the Nazis, this “German guilt” cannot be denied or relativized. But the perpetuated self-accusations, which do not exist among any other people, obviously achieve after more than seven decades the opposite of what they pretend to aim for.
The opportunism, the subservience and hypocrisy that have basically characterized German politics since 1945 became abundantly clear when Frank-Walter Steinmeier, in his speech in Warsaw, addressed the relationship to the USA – as he sees it. Among other things, he said: “Our responsibility, it also applies to the transatlantic partnership. On this anniversary, we all look to America with gratitude. The power of its armies – together with its allies in the West and in the East – has crushed National Socialism. And the power of America’s ideas and values, its far-sightedness, its generosity, have opened a different, a better future for this continent”. (9)
The German Federal President then testified his attitude of humility to the present representative of the USA, Mike Pence (10), who represented President Donald Trump, with the words: “Mr. Vice President, this is the greatness of America that we Europeans admire and to which we are attached. This America has opened the eyes of the world to the irrepressible power of freedom and democracy – including us Germans. For this America, a united Europe has always been a concern. This America wanted genuine partnership and friendship in mutual respect.” And Steinmeier continued: “Look at the state guests from forty countries! All of them, whose ancestors fought and suffered in that war, they show together today that the will for a common future is stronger than the dividing gap of the past (…) The united Europe relies on the power of humanism and enlightenment, on freedom and justice (…)”.
The fact that a German president is so hypocritically propagandizing for the USA and at the same time against Russia is an unparalleled diplomatic mistake. For Russia, which bore the brunt of the Second World War, was once again insulted and humiliated. Not a word about the Russian victims, not a state guest from Moscow. Instead, an eulogy on the USA, which liberated Germany from Nazi rule in 1945, but at the same time pursued the division of the German Empire, turned the Federal Republic into a front state and continued to curtail its sovereignty by stationing troops, coercing and blackmailing it. Apart from the illegal economic sanctions and the wars against international law with which the United States covered the whole world.
Memory is short. On the one hand, the emphasis again on German greatness, when Steinmeier emphasizes: “Because Germany – despite its history – was allowed to grow to new strength in Europe, that is why we Germans must do more for Europe” – this great man’s addiction, which has already led to ruin and has German soldiers marching 150 kilometers before St. Petersburg. On the other hand, there is the hypocritical, lying vassal policy with which the division of Europe is being pushed further and further. However, it is no longer only divided into Western Europe and Russia, but Western Europe in the form of the EU is now also divided into two: On the one side there are the militant Baltic states, Poland, Bulgaria and Romania, upgraded by the USA, on the other side there are the other EU states, which are – more or less – striving for a more reasonable relationship. As long as leading politicians such as Frank-Walter Steinmeier, Angela Merkel, Ursula von der Leyen, Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer or Heiko Maas have not learned their history lesson to act on it, Germany, and thus Europe, is betrayed and sold.
(1) Die Bundeskanzlerin, 6.12.2019, www.bundeskanzlerin.de/bkin-de/aktuelles/rede-von-bundeskanzlerin-merkel-zum-zehnjaehrigen-bestehen-der-stiftung-auschwitz-birkenau-am-6-dezember-2019-in-auschwitz-1704518 (7.12.2019)
(2) Siehe z.B.: FAZ Online, 6.12.2019, www.faz.net/aktuell/politik/inland/angela-merkel-in-auschwitz-eigentlich-muesste-man-verstummen-16522499.html (7.12.2019), sowie: Welt Online, 6.12.2019, www.welt.de/politik/deutschland/plus204112020/Merkel-in-Auschwitz-Einmal-bricht-der-Kanzlerin-fast-die-Stimme.html (7.12.2019)
(3) Vgl. Die Zeit, 1.9.2019, www.zeit.de/politik/ausland/2019-09/wielun-frank-walter-steinmeier-deutschland-polen-jahrestag-zweiter-weltkrieg (8.12.2019)
(4) Der Bundespräsident, 1.9.2019, www.bundespraesident.de/SharedDocs/Reden/DE/Frank-Walter-Steinmeier/Reden/2019/09/190901-Polen-Gedenken-Warschau.html (8.12.2019)
(5) FAZ Online, 5.9.2017, www.faz.net/aktuell/politik/ausland/polen-fordert-eine-billion-dollar-reparationen-von-deutschland-15183441.html (8.12.2019)
(6) Dazu: Wolfgang Bittner, Der neue West-Ost-Konflikt – Inszenierung einer Krise“, zeitgeist Verlag, 2019, S. 113-135.
(7) DasErste.de, Deutsche & Polen, www.deutscheundpolen.de/ereignisse/ereignis_jsp/key=lager_fuer_deutsche_1945.html (8.12.2019)
(8) Der Spiegel Nr. 25/1979 v. 18.6.1979, „Dann schossen die Polen auf unsere Köpfe“,
(9) Der Bundespräsident, a.a.O.
(10) Mike Pence, US-Vizepräsident, ehemaliger Gouverneur von Indiana: Abtreibungsgegner, Anhänger des Prosperity Gospel (Reichtum oder Armut sind gottgegeben) sowie des Kreatinismus (strikte Bibelgläubigkeit) und Gegner der Evolutionstheorie. Vgl. https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mike_Pence(3.2.2019)
Thanks to the author for the right to publish.
Picture reference: Pierre Dahl / Shutterstock
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