Year: 2023

Kriegerische Nachbarschaft? Wie der Krieg den deutsch-polnischen Dialog prägt

These days, war seems to be omnipresent. Also in German-Polish relations. There is hardly a day on which no press article appears or no politician speaks out on German-Polish relations without referring to the topic of war in one way or another. To put it bluntly, one could speak of the increasing militarisation of Polish-German relations, understood as the communicative framing of these relations in the language of war.

This use of the language of war can be analysed on various levels. The first is the influence that the war experience had on the development of German-Polish relations. The rhetoric of war had a different meaning in the two societies in the past, which has a concrete effect on today's communication. Poland and its experiences from the Second World War have not been internalised by German society. The second level is the use of war metaphors in the relations between the two countries in topics that superficially have no connection to the topic of war. Thirdly, after 24 February 2022, the issue of war reached a whole new level, when it became a real experience for the European neighbours of the Ukrainians, of course, but also of the Poles, when two Polish citizens were killed by a falling missile in the autumn. And finally, fourthly, there have also been "media wars" in bilateral relations over the past 25 years that have been triggered by journalists or politicians and waged with varying degrees of intensity by the media on both sides of the border.

The following remarks are guided by one main thesis: Poland is at war - on the level of emotions and communication, Germany is not. And, consequently: Poland wants to win the war, Germany does not want to lose the peace. From this constellation, our argument, many of the current upheavals in German-Polish relations can be better understood. As far as the influence of the history of the Second World War on the relations between Germany and Poland, this could be summed up in the thesis that the Second World War has been concluded for Germany and is almost exclusively dealt in the field of remembrance culture. For Poland, on the other hand, the Second World War is not yet over and project into the present in various ways. This German-Polish simultaneity of unsimultaneity can be seen in the current debate on reparations and restitution. 

The text summarises the project "Actors, Fields, Paths - German-Polish Communication: With and About Each Other". The project was carried out by the Institute of Public Affairs and the Deutsches Polen-Institut thanks to financial support from the German-Polish Science Foundation.


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