Reparations: German Media on Olaf Scholz's Visit to Warsaw and Talks with Donald Tusk


German commentators criticize Chancellor Olaf Scholz for avoiding giving a specific amount of financial aid for the still-living Polish victims of war and occupation. Prime Minister Donald Tusk will be a difficult partner, and Berlin will have to reckon with Warsaw's position more than under the rule of Law and Justice, they emphasize.

“The process of working through German crimes in Poland during World War II has not yet ended. This also applies to the German government,” writes Johan Schloemann in “Sueddeutsche Zeitung”.

“It will soon be 80 years since the end of World War II. Despite this, there is talk again about compensation from the Germans for the crimes committed against Poles and Poland. Isn't it too late for that?” asks the author of the commentary, and answers: “No.”

As he pointed out, reconciliation sometimes requires several generations. The Cold War was also a reason for the delay. “Under the lash of the Soviet empire, Poland gave up German reparations, which was tacitly confirmed during the fall of the Iron Curtain in 1990, without a real peace treaty,” we read in “SZ”.

Schloemann recalled that the Holocaust, which Germany carried out on Polish soil, covered up – when the Federal Republic of Germany was implementing the compensation resulting from its foreign policy – ​​other crimes committed against the civilian population.

Olaf Scholz and Donald Tusk met in WarsawMarcin Obara/PAP/EPA

Germany gave up its former eastern territories and paid compensation to some groups of victims. From a legal point of view, the issue of reparations will not return to the agenda, and the new government of Prime Minister Donald Tusk he admitted it himself.

“It is all the more important that the steps taken by Berlin towards reconciliation, such as the construction of the monument and the so-called German-Polish House, do not come as hesitant signals, but are magnanimous,” writes the “SZ” commentator.

It's not good that Olaf Scholz during his visit to Warsaw, he did not mention a specific amount earmarked for a financial gesture for the still living victims – assessed Schloemann. “It is true that supporting the future security of Poland and Europe is also important as a lesson from history. In addition, a clear signal must be sent quickly also on the issue of compensation, if a new beginning (in relations) between the two countries, after such a long wait, is really to be successful” – summed up Johan Schloemann.

Schmid: There will be no Polish-German honeymoon

“Die Welt” emphasizes that there will be no German-Polish “honeymoon”. “The renewed rapprochement between Germany and Poland is good news, especially because of the Russian threat. Donald Tusk will not be an easy partner, however,” writes Thomas Schmid.

“It's high time for consultations, which haven't happened for six years. The German government, including the one led by Angela Merkel, always had an excuse at hand that the PiS government was hard to deal with. PiS actually did a lot to make the relations between the two countries covered with a layer of ice. It is also true, however, that the German government was not very worried about it,” the commentator recalled.

Olaf ScholzMarcin Obara/PAP/EPA

Interest in Poland remained “notoriously low” after the fall of the Iron Curtain. Even the East German Angela Merkel looked more willingly to the West. The “substantive course” of the consultations promises the beginning of “diplomatic-democratic normality,” Schmid assessed.

According to the commentator, Prime Minister Tusk's Poland will remain a difficult partner. Schmid pointed out that in matters of migration and defense, the Polish government is closer to the Christian Democratic parties CDU/CSU than to the Social Democrats or the Greens. On the issue of compensation, the Polish government will remain tough. “There will be no Polish-German honeymoon,” the journalist from “Die Welt” emphasized.

“We can only hope that the German government will devote more attention to Poland in the future. The largest, most important and most dynamic country among the new EU countries simply deserves it,” concludes Thomas Schmid.

Busse: compensation “a well-founded humanitarian gesture”

“Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung” writes that “German-Polish relations have fortunately improved. However, Germany is not responsible for eliminating unrealistic reparation claims from the Polish debate,” says Nikolas Busse.

Referring to governments PISthe commentator assessed that despite “fueling anti-German sentiments” there were no irreversible losses in Polish-German relations, although the level of bilateral contacts was “below potential”.

Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Prime Minister Donald TuskMarcin Obara/PAP/EPA

Dispute over policy towards Russia was resolved (in Poland's favor), which created a field for cooperation, primarily in defense policy. Positive trends should not, however, – Busse emphasized – be combined with “expectations for financial transfers.”

Compensation for the last living victims of the German occupation is a “well-founded humanitarian gesture”. “However, it is not Germany's task to eliminate irresponsible, unrealistic ideas such as demands for reparations of 1.3 trillion euros from the Polish debate,” Busse writes.

“Poland has developed well, also thanks to European aid. This is a good starting point for looking more to the future than to the past,” Nikolas Busse concludes his commentary in “FAZ”.

Kurianowicz: Scholz must reckon with Poland

The Berliner Zeitung asks whether Scholz is Tusk's “U-boat”. The national-conservative opposition in Poland has called Donald Tusk a German agent, and Jaroslaw Kaczynski he constantly repeated that Tusk was in fact “the secret U-boat of the Federal Republic of Germany”.

However, after intergovernmental consultations, these views should be completely revised. “It is quite the opposite – it was Tusk who tried to make Scholz a Warsaw U-boat,” writes Tomasz Kurianowicz, editor-in-chief of the Warsaw daily, noting that the Polish prime minister tried to bind the chancellor more strongly to Poland and the whole of Eastern Europe.

“Scholz must reckon with Poland. Under Mateusz Morawiecki's rule and his anti-German policies, it was easier for the Germans to ignore critical voices from Poland. Now they will no longer be able to do so,” he argues.

Main image source: Marcin Obara/PAP/EPA

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