Did Tadeusz Kosciuszko speak Lithuanian
Based on Willy Brandt's world-famous kneeling on December 7, 1970 in Warsaw, Peter Oliver Loew describes gestures of reconciliation, monuments and places of remembrance in Poland's relations with neighboring countries - and their topicality.
Dr. Peter Oliver Loew
Dr. Peter Oliver Loew, director of the German Poland Institute in Darmstadt, honorary professor at the TU Darmstadt, historian, author of numerous books on questions of German-Polish relations.
On December 7th, 1970, Federal Chancellor Willy Brandt kneels in front of the memorial in the former Jewish ghetto in Warsaw, which is dedicated to the heroes of the ghetto uprising of April 1943. (& copy picture-alliance / dpa, DB dpa)
SummaryPoland's external relations are paved with symbols, both in direct contact with representatives of neighboring countries and in the form of symbolic stagings for domestic political purposes. Very high importance is attached to them in the social understanding of foreign policy action, which hardly any politician can escape. Based on Willy Brandt's kneeling on December 7, 1970 in Warsaw, the text describes gestures of reconciliation, monuments and places of remembrance in Poland's relations with its neighboring countries, as well as their sustainability. It turns out that these gestures only have a connecting effect if they are equally emotionally and politically relevant in both countries. The "Place of Remembrance and Encounter" recently decided by the Bundestag in Berlin could become such a gesture.
The gesture of Willy BrandtWhen Federal Chancellor Willy Brandt visited Poland's capital Warsaw on December 7, 1970, the occasion was the signing of an agreement with the long title "Treaty between the Federal Republic of Germany and the People's Republic of Poland on the basis of the normalization of their mutual relations" and with which both States not only established diplomatic relations for the first time, but the Federal Republic also recognized the border on the Oder and Neisse. However, before Brandt signed the long-negotiated agreement together with Prime Minister Józef Cyrankiewicz, he wanted to set symbolic signals. First he visited the tomb of the Unknown Soldier under the preserved arcades of the Saxon Palace, which had been blown up by the Germans in December 1944. Then he and his companions drove to the Monument to the Heroes of the Warsaw Ghetto. Since 1948 it has been a reminder of the Jewish uprising five years earlier in the cynically "Jewish residential district", which was cordoned off and starved. Here he laid a wreath. What happened next has been told countless times since then: The Chancellor fell on his knees and bowed his head. Everyone who had come to the memorial with him fell silent, this gesture was so unexpected, so unheard of. Photos and film recordings of this knee fall went around the world. A picture icon was created, a very effective symbol that filled several empty spaces in West German memory because it stood or could have stood for two processes of rapprochement - for German-Polish and German-Jewish relations.
Of course, the Warsaw Treaty was also important. It regulated relations between West Germany and Poland and enabled the transition to a phase that was now called "normalization". On the same day, Brandt said in a radio and television address from the Polish capital: "The Warsaw Treaty is intended to put an end to the suffering and victims of an evil past. It is intended to build a bridge between the two states and the two peoples."
Indeed, the contract built many bridges and strengthened the ties that already existed between the two companies. It led to an intensification of official contacts and to stronger social relations. But the kneeling remained in the image memory. The New York Times reported on the same day: "The drama of the signing of the Polish – West Germany treaty today was almost overshadowed earlier in a touching incident at a memorial to the Jews who died in the Warsaw ghetto under the Nazi occupation." Not really surprising, because the photos of the signing of the contract, on which many elderly men in black suits could be seen, were confusingly similar to other contract signings from those years.
The extraordinaryness of Brandt's gesture at the ghetto memorial was inscribed in the visual memory of Germany and German-Polish relations. The chancellor kneeling in front of the memorial has become a memorial himself, a much-invoked symbol for an epochal change in bilateral relations, for the new respect that Germany paid to Poland.
Willy Brandt's kneeling in front of a memorial has been remembered many times over the past decades, until he even received a memorial himself: A three-meter-high, extremely simple brick wall with a bronze relief was erected on December 6, 2000 by Federal Chancellor Gerhard Schröder and Prime Minister Jerzy Buzek of the location at the time revealed. But that's not all: Gerhard Rosenfeld's opera was in Dortmund in 1997 Kneel in Warsaw was premiered (Brandt sings in the baritone), and for the 50th anniversary, two more official punctuation marks will follow in 2020. In October, a German 2-euro special coin appeared on which Brandt can be recognized kneeling in front of the memorial. In the foreground a menorah can clearly be seen, which actually belongs to the monument ensemble in Warsaw, but - unlike in the film recordings - cannot be seen in the photos from 1970. This emphasizes the German-Polish-Jewish triangular relationship inherent in Brandt's gesture more strongly than has been seen by many contemporaries. In contrast, the German 110-cent special postage stamp to be released in December 2020 only shows Willy Brandt on rain-soaked stone slabs and part of the wreath he has put down.
Gestures of German-Polish relationsOnly a few motifs have established themselves as iconic gestures in the history of German-Polish relations. Representations from the Second World War are known in both countries: German soldiers at the border barrier near Danzig in September 1939 - a photo that is known to be recreated - or the training ship "Schleswig-Holstein" with its shots on the Westerplatte. In Poland there are many more canonical images from the war, but only very few have moved into the center of memory in Germany, nor have they become compulsory illustrations for all school books. From the time after the war, in addition to Brandt's kneeling, at most the reconciliation mass that Helmut Kohl and Tadeusz Mazowiecki celebrated in Krzyżowa in Lower Silesia in November 1989. Kohl's awkward embrace of his Polish counterpart during the service is a symbol of the greatest empathy that German statesmen have ever shown Poland.
In later decades the images became more arbitrary: Either the occasions were dramaturgically unsuitable for the "special photo", namely the signing of the basic agreements of 1990 (border agreement) and 1991 (neighborhood agreement), or the gestures were similar due to the limited symbolic available Design language: laying wreaths, speeches, visits to sites of German crimes. Regardless of the relevance that the accumulation of such actions has for strengthening bilateral relationships and anchoring them in the media - large, incomparable gestures are obviously difficult to plan or, like the famous handshake of Helmut Kohl and François Mitterand in Verdun in 1984, owe them to special historical circumstances . Or, like the letter from the Polish bishops to their German colleagues in 1965, they evade any graphic representation.
It is actually interesting that the much-vaunted reconciliation process between Germany and Poland has hardly produced any central memorial sites that are of comparable emotional relevance for both sides. Even the aesthetically unremarkable kneeling memorial in Warsaw ultimately derives its meaning from the image motif, which has become much better known in Germany and, due to the fact that Brandt kneeled in front of a memorial for Jewish victims, does not have an identity-relevant one for all citizens of today's Poland Role. Another place that is often charged with symbolic meaning, the Kreisau youth meeting place, is first and foremost a place of German history that has been in Poland since 1945 and today serves to promote understanding among peoples. The concentration camp memorials, on the other hand, leave neither Poles nor Germans untouched, but they are rarely places where the cultures and needs of both societies complement each other harmoniously.
But if you look one level deeper, you will find numerous places where German-Polish history is remembered: There are hundreds of them in Germany and Poland. In Poland there are especially memorial stones or plaques that remind of the former coexistence of Germans and Poles or of the former German inhabitants of today's Polish places. For example, there is a "Stone of German-Polish Reconciliation" in the Pomeranian Drawno (German: Neuwedell), which was inaugurated by the former German residents together with the Polish city administration in 1999, whereby the old war memorial for the First World War is simply a new plaque received. In Nieszawa (Ger. Nessau) on the Vistula there has been a memorial for the Polish and German victims of war and tyranny since 2004, with the bilingual inscription "We forgive and ask for forgiveness". A "friendship tree" grows next to the monument, an oak tree that was planted by a German girl and a Polish boy.
Protagonists of rapprochement and reconciliation can also become bearers of memory, such as Cardinal Bolesław Kominek, initiator of the Bishops' Letter from 1965, to which a memorial on the Wroclaw Sand Island has been commemorating since 2005, also with the bilingual inscription: "We forgive and ask for forgiveness."
In Germany, on the other hand, there are more than a thousand monuments and memorials that commemorate Poles and their suffering in World War II. Some of them were created shortly after the Second World War in memory of the murdered and deceased forced laborers or concentration camp prisoners, mostly Polish survivors themselves being the authors. These include, for example, the Polish memorial in Dortmund's main cemetery or the Polish memorial in the cemetery on Wollhaustraße in Heilbronn. Some of them are grave fields that were created later, for example in Brandau in Hesse, for the creation of which the Volksbund Deutsche Kriegsgräberfürsorge was often responsible. Polish victims are often remembered in connection with the expulsion and murder of Jews, for example in Hamburg Altona, where a memorial has been standing since 1987 for the 800 Jews with Polish citizenship who died in October 1938 in the course of the "Poland Action "were deported from Nazi Germany to Poland. After all, the GDR created a number of large monuments that remind of fallen Poles in a spirit of socialist solidarity. The best known is the memorial to the Polish soldier and the German anti-fascist in Berlin-Friedrichshain, inaugurated in 1972 by Erich Honecker.
Even if at some of these monuments and memorials gestures of reconciliation take place and Germans and Poles meet, there is currently no central location in Germany and Poland that would prominently commemorate the history, understanding and reconciliation between the two countries. Such a facility could emerge in Berlin in the next few years after the Bundestag decided on a "place of remembrance and commemoration" on October 30, 2020 after long discussions in advance. It should not only be a symbolic gesture, but also a place for documentation, encounters and education. So far, only the "German-Polish Gardens" on the bank of the Vistula River in the Praga-Süd district have been featured on the symbolic map of Warsaw, an initiative that started in the German embassy and has meanwhile had numerous friends and supporters. In addition, as it announced in summer 2020, the Krefeld Adalbert Foundation would like to erect a slim monument in Warsaw to commemorate the Polish contribution to the fall of the Berlin Wall.
The journalist and publicist Adam Krzemiński has now made another suggestion: He has a symbolic "arch of memory" in mind: In addition to the planned "Polish place" in Berlin, a museum of German-Polish relations should be built in Warsaw, and so should the two cities to connect the airports in Frankfurt am Main and Berlin-Tempelhof in a similar way as the airlift memorials.
Poland's bilateral relations in gestures, rituals and memorialsOverall, Poland is considered a country that assigns monuments to an important role in the landscape of remembrance. Since the death of John Paul II, more than 700 monuments and plaques for the "Polish Pope" have been created across the country. And in 2018, around 40 memorials to the victims of the plane crash near Smolensk in 2010 were counted in Poland, as well as more than 400 memorial stones, plaques, obelisks, trees and crosses that commemorate the disaster with almost one hundred fatalities in the remember public and political life.
In what ways are neighboring countries other than Germany symbolically present in Poland, and which gestures of reconciliation have been impressed on the collective memory? Poland has historically more or less strained relations with almost all of its neighboring countries. That is why symbol politics still play an important role today. While it was not possible to openly address a number of historically founded disputes during the socialist era, it was often Polish exile circles who tried to build intellectual and symbolic bridges in countries such as Lithuania or the Ukraine. After the system transformation, bilateral agreements soon followed, which placed relations with the old or new neighboring states on a new basis. This was the case, for example, in the case of Polish-Lithuanian relations.
Lithuania: Common History, Overcoming Conflicts and a Monument in SejnyThe treaty on friendly relations and good neighborly cooperation was signed on April 26, 1994 by Polish President Lech Wałęsa during a visit to Vilnius. Other symbolic gestures followed, such as the fact that the newly elected President Aleksander Kwaśniewski's first trip abroad in 1996 was to the small neighboring country with which Poland shares centuries of history. For this reason there are also common historical events to be celebrated. For example, the Lithuanian Parliament has repeatedly declared May 3rd, the Polish national holiday, to be a Lithuanian public holiday, as on this day in 1791 a constitution for the Polish-Lithuanian state was passed. In 2007, both parliaments even met for a joint session on this occasion. Another common place of remembrance is the Battle of Tannenberg in 1410, when the united armies of Poland and Lithuania succeeded in defeating the Teutonic Order. Round anniversaries of this battle are always an occasion for celebrations, and so on July 15, 2020, the presidents of Lithuania and Poland met on the battlefields near Grunwald (the Polish place name) to place a man-sized memorial stone in the presence of the current Grand Master of the Teutonic Order with the bilingual Polish-Lithuanian inscription "From the Lithuanian nation for common victory". Images of great symbolic effect and canonical power, however, did not arise during all of these events.
If one looks for monuments that remind of the historical relations and the reconciliation process between Poland and Lithuania, there are indeed numerous historical places where common history was written. In Lublin, a memorial on the Lithuanian Square (Plac Litewski) memorial to the Lublin Union since 1826, and here President Andrzej Duda received Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaitė in 2019 on the 450th anniversary of the Real Union between Poland and Lithuania. But the Polish-Lithuanian reconciliation itself is dedicated to a memorial that was only erected in 2019 in Sejny, Poland, right on the border with Lithuania. The occasion was the 100th anniversary of the "Sejny Uprising" in 1919, when Poles ended the Lithuanian occupation of the area with armed force. This conflict, one of the many that was to poison the relationship between the two states for decades, is now commemorated by a plaque on the town's market square with the bilingual Polish-Lithuanian inscription "Reconciliation is a decision".
Nevertheless, the historical conflicts continue to weigh on the present. Small steps are important here, which sometimes cause a stir and break symbolic ice. It was particularly important that in 2004, at the suggestion of the then Lithuanian President, veterans of the Polish Home Army (Armia Krajowa) and those of the Lithuanian Plechavičius units and protection teams fighting on the German side against the Home Army signed a joint declaration: "60 years have passed since the moment we were enemies.Today we realize that history has solved the problems that caused us to fight each other. "The following year, representatives of both associations met in two Lithuanian villages, where Poles and Lithuanians had committed crimes against civilians.
Indeed, in view of the many contacts and gestures, which often fall back on shared historical experiences, the process of reconciliation with Lithuania is hardly called into question in Polish politics, especially because of the cooperation and similar interests in the European Union and in politics towards Russia and Belarus is supported. Images and gestures can further intensify this neighborhood, even if the treatment of the Polish minority in Lithuania still harbors a certain potential for conflict. It is completely different in relations with Ukraine.
Ukraine: Lots of speeches, lots of gestures, always new attempts at reconciliationThe treaty between Poland and Ukraine on good neighbors, friendly relations and cooperation dates back to May 18, 1992. But the dramatic events of the 20th century blocked the process of understanding for a long time, especially the bloody ethnic cleansing of Volhynia and Eastern Galicia by Ukrainian nationalists in 1943/44 and the equally bloody, if not so extensive, countermeasures by the Polish Home Army. In order to break the fatalism of repeated mutual accusations of blame, numerous attempts have been made in the last few decades to heal the wounds of history through symbolic actions. If you browse the Google image search with the Polish words for "Poland Ukraine Reconciliation", you will come across many religious events next to numerous politicians from both countries holding hands and wreaths laid down. In fact, it was several times high church representatives who called for reconciliation between the two nations. Particularly important in this context is the trip of John Paul II to Ukraine in June 2001, where he said at a mass in Lviv: "May the forgiveness given and received flow like a benevolent balm in every heart Purification of historical memory all be ready to place higher than that which unites than that which divides ". Grand Archbishop Lubomyr Husar, head of the Greek Catholic Church in Ukraine, replied: "May the terrible past not burden and poison our lives".
Four years later, the Greek Catholic bishops of Ukraine and their Roman Catholic counterparts from Poland took an example from the Polish-German history of reconciliation and wrote: "So that our prayer may be fruitful beyond all measure, let us say the words to each other:" We forgive and ask for forgiveness "- after all, they already have their historical strength in the work of international reconciliation (cf. letter from the Polish to the German bishops, Rome 1965)." This call was made a few days before the renovated cemetery of the Lemberg eagle boys on June 24, 2005 (Cmentarz Orląt Lwowskich) was reopened: After years of controversy about the shape of this pathetic complex, which is reminiscent of the Poles who fell in the battle for Lviv in 1918/19, Presidents Aleksander Kwaśniewski and Viktor Yushchenko took part in the ceremony with a large entourage. On this occasion, Kwaśniewski said: "May places of remembrance and reflection become places of hope and promise. (...) Especially for the new, future generations."
Nevertheless, the story turned out to be a strain on bilateral relations in the years to come. Even if the newly elected Polish President Lech Kaczyński and Yushchenko inaugurated a memorial for the Ukrainian victims of a massacre committed by Poland a few months later in Pawłokoma near Rzeszów, Poland. Even if they prayed together in Warsaw in April 2007 on the 60th anniversary of "Aktion Vistula", the forced resettlement of Ukrainians in post-war Poland. The gestures, speeches and prayers were repeated in the following years: in 2012, Presidents Bronisław Komorowski and Viktor Yanukovych opened a Polish cemetery for the Katyn victims near Kiev; In 2016, the Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko visited the Memorial to the Dead of the Volhynia Slaughter in Warsaw; and on July 8, 2018, the presidents commemorated in different places: Poroshenko in Sahryń, Poland, near Lublin, where the Polish Home Army massacred Ukrainians in 1944 (Poroshenko called for "Christian forgiveness" in his address), and Andrzej Duda in the Ukraine in Lutsk and Olyka, centers of the Ukrainian crimes against Poland in 1943. He said, among other things: "First of all we should let our good relations arise on the historical truth. That is the most important thing! We should establish friendship between our nations." A joint commemoration of the two presidents still seemed no longer possible, which is why the Polish daily "Gazeta Wyborcza" also commented that Polish-Ukrainian relations had never been so bad. A few months earlier, several former presidents of both countries had referred to this resentment in an appeal in which they called for "the defense of the reconciliation process between our nations".
If one sifts through the minutes of the Sejm meetings of the last few years for the keyword "reconciliation", one comes across it most often precisely in this Polish-Ukrainian context, whereby it is often emphasized how far it is to reconciliation: "Lies no real reconciliation can be built, "says Marek Ast from the Law and Justice party (Prawo i Sprawiedliwość – PiS) 2013. "(...) Reconciliation requires telling the truth. We are particularly concerned about the lack of sensitivity on the Ukrainian side in terms of education, symbol and cultural policy" - Jan Dziedziczak, State Secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 2016. "It never will give a Polish-Ukrainian reconciliation without telling the truth about the genocide committed against the Poles "- Andrzej Kobylarz, representative of the party Kukiz ‘15 , 2016. Numerous examples could be added. Meanwhile, the churches tried again in September 2019 to get involved in the reconciliation process.
The problem in Ukrainian-Polish relations is that the many gestures of reconciliation, confessions of guilt, monuments and ceremonies have not eliminated fundamental differences in the interpretation of history. In particular, these gestures apparently only radiate in one direction - depending on whether the victim is Polish or Ukrainian. The role that the positively connoted memory of the Ukrainian nationalists plays for parts of Ukrainian society to this day, and the memories of the traumatic experiences of Polish families in the Polish-Ukrainian conflict, which regional actors in south-east Poland in particular and right-wing parties in particular are constantly addressing despite all efforts so far give the impression that the reconciliation is far from complete. An effective, lasting gesture by Polish-Ukrainian neighbors is still missing today. However, it must also be taken into account that the large labor migration of Ukrainians to Poland that has been going on for a few years now means that completely different topics are finding their way into Polish-Ukrainian coexistence, which may also contribute to the fact that the cultural remembrance and historical-political dissent slowly loses its relevance .
Silence or normalcy? Gestures in Poland's other external relationsIt looks very different in the Polish symbolic politics towards the other neighboring countries. A treaty on good neighbors and friendly cooperation was signed with Belarus on June 23, 1992. After this cooperation initially got off to a good start, the coming to power of Alexander Lukashenko put a permanent strain on the relationship - the last bilateral presidential meeting took place in March 1996 in the state guest house in the Belarusian city of Wiskuli in the Białowieża National Park. Later on, Poland repeatedly took sides with the Belarusian opposition, for example in a message from the Polish Sejm to the Belarusian nation on January 22, 1999. By establishing and promoting media for the opposition in the neighboring country (Radyjo Racyja 1999, TV Belsat 2007) the Polish government has clearly positioned itself.
In addition, there is the fact that there are no serious historical issues between Poland and Belarus, apart from some underground activities at the end of World War II and anti-Belarusian excesses by Polish anti-communist partisans after the war. That is why there is hardly any mention of the need for "reconciliation" in bilateral relations. On the contrary, even the government in Minsk - in its own way - definitely values the common cultural heritage (see Poland Analysis No. 264, https://www.laender-analysen.de/polen-analysen/264/). In 2018, a monument to the Polish national hero Tadeusz Kościuszko was even unveiled in his birthplace, but with the inscription: "Tadeusz Kościuszko 1746-1817. The great son of Belarus from his grateful compatriots." However, there was no significant competition for national symbols like Kościuszko. However, the treatment of the Polish minority, which Minsk repeatedly instrumentalized, for example through the creation of officially supported parallel structures, is still controversial.
There were some disputes in Polish-Czech relations in the 20th century, but these have hardly played a role since the system transformation. In October 1991 Poland signed an "Agreement on Good Neighborhood, Solidarity and Friendly Cooperation" with the federation of the Czech and Slovak Republics, and since February 1991 the Visegrád Group consisted of Hungary, Poland and the slowly collapsing Czechoslovakia. If you look at the relations between the Czech Republic and Poland, an iconic motif stands out, which has had a positive impact on the image of the neighbor to this day - the conspiratorial meeting of Czechoslovak and Polish opposition members in the summer of 1978 right on the border in the Giant Mountains. In September 2020, the Warsaw City Council decided to name the square near the Czech Embassy in Warsaw after the Czech dissident and later President Václav Havel. There are some bilateral monuments from the socialist era, for example a memorial for the "Polish-Czechoslovak friendship" has stood in Goleniów in Pomerania since 1948, where Czechoslovak resistance fighters imprisoned in the war died. And in the border region, especially in Cieszyn Silesia (Poland annexed the Olsa region in 1938), several monuments and memorial plaques testify to the desire to remember the past together in a forgiving way. Historically, there are no fundamental differences of opinion with Slovakia, and so the shared image memory is most likely to be shaped by the High Tatras shared by both states and the leader of the mountain robbers (Janosik / Jánošík).
After all, things are quite different between Poland and Russia. The symbolic relations between the two states cannot be dealt with in more detail here, although they are very complex simply in view of the centuries-long history of conflict and entanglement. All you have to do is look at the map of the memorials and memorials in Poland and see that the whole country is littered with Soviet war graves and (now usually rededicated) monuments of Polish-Soviet friendship. For parts of the Polish public, their presence continues to have an irritating effect. In 2018, for example, the monument of gratitude for the Red Army was removed from the center of Legnica and moved to the communal cemetery.
Around 2010 it looked as if a change would be possible: In 2009, Vladimir Putin, then Russian Prime Minister, accepted the invitation of his Polish counterpart Donald Tusk to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the outbreak of war on Gdańsk's Westerplatte, which was already happening back then was heavily criticized by the right-wing camp in Poland. A walk by Tusk and Putin on the pier in Sopot (German: Sopot) created images that are still used today in the domestic political struggle against Tusk (as "traitors" to national interests).
A particularly important point of contention symbolically was the interpretation of the Katyn massacre. While Tusk and Putin met again on April 7, 2010 in the forest near Smolensk to commemorate the more than 22,000 Polish officers murdered by the Soviets in the spring of 1940 and agreed to set up a Polish-Russian historians' commission to fully investigate the crime, President wanted Lech Kaczyński set his own example three days later against the background of the approaching presidential elections in Poland and said in his speech: "Lasting relationships cannot be built on lies. (...) The path to reconciliation requires concrete signals. On this path we need Partnership, dialogue of equals with equals and no imperial longings. " As is well known, Kaczyński was no longer able to deliver this speech. Since then, the crash of the presidential machine has not only put a strain on Polish-Russian relations, but has also massively intensified internal political polarization in Poland. A renewed political rapprochement seems to be ruled out for the time being, also due to Vladimir Putin's historical essay from the summer of 2020, in which he gives Poland complicity in the outbreak of the Second World War. In view of this constellation, the path "via gestures to reconciliation" is currently blocked in the case of Polish-Russian relations.
ConclusionThe observation has shown that the symbolic policy in Poland's external relations has had different results. While it has positively established Polish-Lithuanian relations, relations with Ukraine have, so to speak, become symbolically idle. The balance sheet between Germany and Poland is ambivalent. The bon mot of the "kitsch of reconciliation", which has been circulating for a long time, points to the fundamental problems.
Therefore, from the perspective of German-Polish relations, one should ask oneself whether 50 years after Willy Brandt's kneeling and a now large number of important but ultimately repetitive state acts, wreath-laying ceremonies and speeches, it was not time, a new chapter to open symbolic politics, a chapter with new gestures. How about if top politicians from both countries spend their vacation not in Tuscany, Madeira or South Tyrol, but in the neighboring country? How about if both countries actually create a symbolic bracket, a sign that clearly unites both societies? These could be classic monuments or places of remembrance and learning that - as suggested by Adam Krzemiński - draw a bow from Warsaw to Berlin. But that could also be a road of German-Polish relations running straight through both countries, a tourist route that touches places with great relevance for the common history between Bremen and Zamość or between Dachau and Olsztyn (German: Allenstein).
The "Place of Remembrance and Encounter" decided by the Bundestag on October 30, 2020 will certainly also be one of these new gestures, a place which, in its commemorative component, is intended to permanently confront German society with the memory of German crimes in Poland which, as a place of education, will at the same time also help to develop new paths in the German-Polish neighborhood. In the best case, this place, in the historical center of Berlin, can also develop identity relevance for Polish visitors, after all, orders to the Wehrmacht, Gestapo and SS were issued from here. But from here, the Enlightenment also radiated to Poland, and hundreds of thousands of Polish-speaking immigrants found a new home in Berlin. And so this German gesture could actually become a place for Poland that touches Poles and Germans equally emotionally. Because even if we don't even know that little about each other by now - our emotional needs are definitely different. What you can also see in how popular or unpopular monuments are in both states.
The Poland analyzes are published jointly by the Research Center for Eastern Europe at the University of Bremen, the German Society for Eastern European Studies, the German Poland Institute, the Leibniz Institute for Agricultural Development in Transition Economies, the Leibniz Institute for East and Southeast European Research and the Center for Eastern European and International Studies (ZOiS) gGmbH. The bpb publishes them as a licensed edition.
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