On the occasion of the International Holocaust Remembrance Day in the European Parliament as those guilty of the Holocaust, EU politicians – including Mrs. Metsola and von der Leyen – indicated “Nazis” without mentioning their German nationality. A similar procedure was performed by the US ambassador to Poland. What is the purpose of this open falsification of history and whitewashing the Germans of their responsibility for the crimes committed during World War II?
Prof. Jan Żaryn: As we know, the German historical policy for years has been effectively directed by this state to shift the responsibility from the German nation to the “Nazis” as responsible for the Holocaust, ie only members of the NSDAP, as if they did not manage the Third Reich with the consent of the German nation. And additionally burdening, in turn, either nations whose representatives actually collaborated with the Third Reich, or nations that were victims of the Third Reich, such as Poles. Such juggling of national affiliation is, of course, selective and deliberately done in the name of avoiding responsibility. It seems that this is an effective method, as you can see, because different people with official authority, because I do not claim that due, but official, are the copycats of these carriers of lies. We, Poles, are of course always prepared and we must correct this falsification of the history of World War II.
I think it’s a much broader problem. Not only there is an inconvenient topic for Germany of reparations today. For Germany, there has been a deliberate desire to shift responsibility for World War II for at least several decades. The Germans argue that there are new generations who had nothing to do with these crimes, and therefore the responsibility for World War II cannot be blamed on the German nation indefinitely. And it is this policy that has various effects, including reparations issues. And here there is no consensus on such a relative view of reality, because we know from history that exceptional crimes, such as genocide, and far-reaching material losses, which delayed us in terms of civilization by many decades due to World War II, exist. The fact that the Germans postpone it for the next generations is a choice of Germany and the Germans, and not a real shifting of responsibility for the consequences of World War II. It is the choice of the Germans whether they want to pay today or pay fifty years from now. Each time we will remind them, as long as we are Poles, that there is responsibility for the Second World War.
Of course, Germany has a tendency in its historical policy to cover the whole of Europe with its history. The Roman Empire of the German Nation in the 21st century, according to many German intellectuals, exists and within this doctrine, Germany may agree that they are the bearers of the evil of World War II, but at the same time they are also those who suffered, who are “responsible” for Europe , and thus “heal” it, are those who, due to their history, take on their shoulders the responsibility for modernizing the European continent today. This is politics, German propaganda, which has its roots in the history of World War II. The figure of Stauffenberg in particular was at one point promoted as a symbol of European resistance against Nazism, which again has nothing to do with the historical truth. He was a man who actually tried to kill Hitler, and it would undoubtedly have made it easier for the Germans to negotiate and shrug off responsibility in 1944 if Hitler had died, but it is difficult to call it thinking in terms of pan-European responsibility for the moral order on the Old Continent. From our Polish point of view, he was a figure who saw us in 1939 as subhuman, and therefore for us he is no hero, but the perpetrator, like many other Germans, of everything that involved the murder of over 6 million citizens of the II Republic of Poland.
Is it possible for Germany to take a real responsibility for the development of Europe, which it aspires to, if Germany is unable to take responsibility for its actions during the Second World War? Is this another German utopia, the costs of which will be borne by all European countries and nations?
This is a propaganda version of course, because it is not true. Taking responsibility for the whole of Europe in such a way as to, of course, increase the state of material prosperity for Germany itself. This is, of course, a soft implementation of the plan of the Third Reich. The former was brutal, with pacifications, genocide and the establishment of concentration camps, while this one is soft, created by economic and financial mechanisms with the simultaneous ability to retreat when the resistance of nation states is too great and this economic colonization in Europe is, of course, often ineffective. But that seems to be Germany’s plan. It is indeed a capable, expansive and imperial nation that has in its cultural code what I call the inextricable link between expansion and responsibility. Responsibility for Europe gives rise to various positive characteristics of the German nation, and expansion very negative, up to bloody struggle with opponents over their place in Europe.
Why is it so difficult to break into the global public space with the truth that Poles were victims of German aggression? Or at least that’s how it looks if we take into account the statements of some foreign politicians.
I think that in the popular textbook awareness we are recognized as those who were attacked in 1939 by the Germans and by the Soviets, but no logical consequence in historical thinking arises from this. In general, Europe, and not only Europe, due to social media, due to various stimuli that affect the human mind, is devoid of logical thinking. It requires a certain amount of constant training, and such constant training history is now out of fashion in Europe.
Interview by Anna Wiejak