Just before an official state visit by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, a controversial issue was raised by a long-standing Polish politician regarding Germany’s responsibility for the Holocaust of the Second World War.
The politician, Kornel Morawiecki, is the father of the country’s current prime minister and head of state, though he was also a central figure in Polish politics in the 1980s when he was one of the leaders of Poland’s anti-communist party. It is notably not out of character for him to want to bring attention to Germany’s Nazi past during the current state visit.
Morawiecki made a public statement early in the morning on Monday, further outlining his views. In his statement, he made it clear that he believed Chancellor Merkel should again state that Germany and Germany alone is responsible for the Second World War and the Holocaust that took place under the Nazi regime.
The veteran politician’s comments come at a time of heightened tension, with Poland’s government having just introduced a bill that makes it illegal for anyone to suggest that the country was in any way responsible for or in agreement with the holocaust.
This controversial bill has led to outrage and disapproval from several nations all over the world. Israel, in particular, has grown to resent Poland over its belief that the latter is attempting to change history to paint themselves in a more positive light.
Chancellor Merkel must now make the difficult decision of how to respond to what will be her second foreign trip since beginning her fourth consecutive term as chancellor of Germany on Wednesday. Most expect her to take the path of mediation when speaking to Polish president Andrzej Duda and Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, the son of Kornel Morawiecki.
A spokesperson for the Polish government, Joanna Kopcinska, has stated that Warsaw is looking forward to working with Berlin and Merkel’s government. This is perhaps a sentiment that Mrs. Merkel might find difficult to return considering what the Polish government is demanding of the German state in light of Poland’s new law.
Among those topics discussed today with the German Chancellor are the issues of increased tensions within the EU due to the UK’s Brexit process, migrant quotas, and economic cooperation between member states. But true to form, the Prime Minister’s father has stated that, to his mind, the more important issue is that of German culpability for the horrors of the Second World War, specifically for the Holocaust, and that any idea of guilt on the part of Poland should be officially renounced, hence the new law. For the older Morawiecki, this blame belongs solely to Germany, and the Chancellor should admit that this is so.
In January of this year, the Polish Institute of National Remembrance (IPN) came out against the suggestion that the Polish government was passive in its resistance to the crimes against humanity committed by the Nazi state against the Jewish population of Poland. The institute argued that propagating such an idea was ethically wrong and that to do so was to show a unique lack of historical understanding. Going even further, they stated that those who believed that any complicity took place lacked empathy for the polish people who had themselves suffered hugely under the Nazis.