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Civil power, radical pacifism, protectional ecologism, Zeitenwende. Germans priests of political idealism

Civil power, radical pacifism, protectional ecologism, Zeitenwende. Germans priests of political idealism Herman- flickr.com

It is characteristic of Germans that they need an idea of their own making in order to harmonise their (very often contradictive) policies. This idea is the methodical idealism of which they are not only followers but even more – the priests. It is an overarching concept for a few more particular ideas: the idea of civil power (Zivilmacht), the guardian-state of liberalism, the commercial state, the rule of law state (Rechtstaat) and finally the ecologism. The latter one is related to the still fresh Energiewende policy. These concepts constitute German methodical idealism, which despite appearances does not have much in common with their supposed pragmatism. A new generation of Germans, currently running in sneakers at Bundestag, can change the strategic course of Germany’s foreign policy. Poland can profit from it and although the key to this lies in Berlin, we must stop repeating the cheap saying “And what did I tell you?” and look into the future.

“German Question” – this XIX century concept was forged in the process of the unification of Germany. It’s getting back to European debates multiple times. The reason for that is simple: if something concerns Germany, it, therefore, concerns the whole of Europe. This was the case during the First and Second World War, in German reunification in 1990, as well as it is today. Germany’s attitude towards the war in Ukraine in a way sets up the course of many processes, which inhabitants of the Old Continent are going to be a witness in the upcoming years. No wonder then that Europe tries to figure out the sources of German hesitancy that is so astonishing for so many. Without an understanding of its sources, there is no way to find an answer to a question about the nature and, what is even more important, the persistence of German political turnaround (Zeitenwende).

Perhaps there are many various topical, down-to-earth and even technical reasons, why the government of the chancellor Olaf Scholtz behaves in such a way. But I feel that the metapolitical motivations are more significant now. If we are to understand the context, which determines Berlin’s decisions as well as the attitude of German political elites and German society, we might find it useful to gather in one place different traditions of German post-war politics. I do not know, which one of those described in the text plays a crucial role. We should be aware, however, of their existence at least in order to be better prepared for the construction of the new model of the Polish-German relationship after the war in Ukraine.

Methodical idealism

Today’s German political culture is a child of Immanuel Kant, albeit the influence of the philosopher from Königsberg on the political consciousness of Germans has become apparent since the Prussian times. Germans need an idea of their own making in order to harmonise their public activity and make it up into the great narrative that would justify various, very often contradictive policies of their state. This idea is the methodical idealism, of which they are not only followers but even more – the priests. To explain it I will refer knowingly to the Germany’s post-war history, since analysing Nazism for the umpteenth time seems to me a not very interesting job.

The ideas I am about to describe will be a subject of discussion in the next sections, and because of that, I mention here only a few of them. So the question is about the following concepts: the idea of civil power (Zivilmacht), the guardian-state of liberalism, the commercial state, the rule of law state (Rechtstaat) and finally the ecologism. The latter one is related to the still fresh Energiewende policy.

I dare to say that all actions of German political, business, media, academic and cultural elites have to somehow comply with these ideas. That is so even if the decisions taken upon the basis of these concepts are not always rational, like the case of phasing-out nuclear power plants or stubborn going into the construction of the Nord Stream 2 project. But even if these decisions are not always entirely rational, Germans can be very methodical in their faith. Moreover, there are not many other nations that could implement and integrate solutions invented by someone else as well as our neighbours from across the Odra River.

In Poland, methodicalness and perfectionism of Germans are very often mistaken for pragmatism. A possible reason for that is the fact that these are the qualities, which Poles find themselves lacking, which often prevents our state from achieving the goals we have set. Thus, we think that we are unsuccessful because we are unpragmatic. But there is a rub. For it is true that Germans very often achieve their goals, but it is not true that they are pragmatic in 100%.

The German methodical idealism implies one more thing. In contrast to the British and the French, Germans do not possess a culture of strategic political planning. “Great Britain have no eternal allies, and have no perpetual enemies”. Surely, this cannot be said about Berlin, that is why Germans are sometimes being outplayed by their partners up from the Seine and the Thames. A great example of that from recent years is negotiations in the summer of 2019 about manning the key positions in the UE.

Emmanuel Macron, the president of France, who is the noisiest critic of Victor Orban, built on the home straight a coalition led by… Hungarian prime minister. That made possible the election of Christine Lagarde for the chair of the president of the European Central Bank. This post was the apple of the eye for Angela Merkel and her candidate Jens Weidmann. The defeat came out to be even more painful, since it was done by Paris together with the members of the Visegrad Group that is traditionally taken by Berlin as a German sphere of influence. Therefore it is not accidental for me that my German interlocutors spoke with some dose of envy about their British and French colleagues, admiring their strategic efficiency.

However, this has consequences. In the time of strategic storm, when the old international order is sinking and the new one is still emerging, the German aces of methodical idealism are in great trouble. It should not be surprising that the best term to describe the chancellor Olaf Scholtz’s politics is chaos. When Germans are still willing to methodically pursue the idea of “The Old World”, the French, and especially the Americans and the British, are adjusting the navigation of foreign policies’ ships according to the new coordinates.

It means that if German Zeitenwende is to be accomplished, Berlin needs a lot of time in order to conceptualise a new idee fixe for itself and begin to implement it with brutal consistency. In short term, we will be probably witnessing a turning around or going two steps forwards and one backwards. We might feel frustrated with it, but it is hard to expect our German partners will become Anglo-Saxon in an instant. After all, we will not become methodical Germans overnight too, even if we so often subconsciously wish it.

  1. Tradition of pacifism

Modern Germany was built among others on the basis of Prussian militarism. It is difficult to understand the Second Reich as well as the Third without the army. The year 1945 brought the final breakthrough (or rather the utter destruction) of the imperial militarism, although with the exception of German imperial idea, which is still doing quite well. It is hard to say definitely whether the consequences of that breakthrough are permanent or merely temporal, but if I would risk a hypothesis about their stability, I was to state that the consciousness of German elites and society will be shaped by pacifism at least to the very end of 21st century.

This has very practical consequences. Germans regard Bundeswehra as a kind of necessary evil – simply such country has to have an army. If any German politician dreams of making a career, he or she will do a lot to avoid exile to the Ministry of Defence. For the department is not a stepping stone for a political career.

No one should be surprised then with reports, according to which the German army does not have functioning tanks, aeroplanes and ships and even if there are some, there is no ammunition for them. Simply no one has ever thought seriously that this whole equipment will be used. Obviously, it does not mean that Germans cannot have an efficient and modern army. After all, Germany as an economic power produces high quality arms sold to numerous countries in the world, including Poland and also (sadly) Russia. This is why I have no doubt that Berlin will be able to spend 100 billion euros for the defence and arm Bundeswehra with the newest military systems that… will never leave the barracks. I believe so also because it will not be easy to find in German society many people, who will be willing to man this hi-tech equipment.

If anything is able to break German pacifism and the reluctance to use military force, that is, paradoxically, an appeal to their own criminal past. What is interesting, the first clear breakthrough after 1945 was achieved by Joschka Fisher, who represented the traditionally pacifistic Green Party. He politically initiated the 1999 decision of the German parliament to send Bundeswehra outside the borders of Germany. A slogan, by means of which Fischer justified the necessity of engagement in Kosovan conflict, was a well know phrase “never more Auschwitz” (nie wieder Auschwitz). Hence, there will not be a great surprise if the next breakthrough shall be done by Fisher’s party successors – Annalena Baerbock and Robert Habeck.

Giving up the militaristic mindset and, seemingly, the absolute triumph of pacifism (or as Germans like to call it with a sneer – lumpenpacifism) does not mean that Germans have abandoned ambitions for power status. The state, which economy produces 1/5th of the EU’s GDP and which positions itself in the top three biggest exporters in the world, cannot think about itself in other terms than the powerhouse. But even if this splendour of Germany has recently dimed, still Berlin will be synonymous with a migration paradise for hundreds of millions of people from the global South. So-called “the Bonn Republic”, which has become “the Berlin Republic” after the reunification, for years has been creating Germany’s image as a land flowing with honey and milk.

This image was present also in Poland, where society believed that behind the Elba, and after 1990 behind the Oder there is a paradise. Germany built their power status, not through hard power – they could not afford that because of the quite huge American contingent stationing on the German soil – but they did with the soft power – the status of global ambassador of liberal democracy, the quality of their economy signed with iconic “made in Germany” and finally the myth of the country, which successfully reckoned with its own past. Relishing the expiation for Nazi crimes has become a fuel for moral capital, which somehow made Germans in their mind the representatives of some kind of better civilisation.

  1. The idea of civil power

The concept of Zivilmacht, which has been made by Germans themselves, does not stand solely for the idea of civilizational power. For the strength of contemporary Germany, as the world and Germans see it, comes exactly from this expiatory moral capital that sets our western neighbours in a role of judges, who discern, what belongs and what does not to the Western (German?) civilisation. In other words, the experience of moral reckoning with Nazism is the source of the moral right to become a teacher, who determines the correct norms of acting, as was the case in 2015, when Willkommenskultur was proclaimed.

I have seen multiple times this peculiar German haranguing (Belehrung) of the citizens from our region. What is interesting, both sides, especially the liberals, have considered this right to be properly justified! When I suggested today in conversations with partners from Germany that Berlin just in a few weeks has called its credibility in the eyes of Central Europeans into question, they could not believe that. They tried to defend themselves saying that they were sending significant financial aid to Ukraine. But even that is wrong. German efforts in this field still pale in comparison with other countries of our region.

Nevertheless, we must be aware that the transition from the role or arbiter to the role of a normal player in international relations, who can be judged and – frighteningly – make mistakes, is extremely difficult. It requires not only a changing of accents but also a complete transformation of the post-war paradigm of Germans’ way of thinking about themselves. Especially that according to the methodological idealism they will be trying to recreate from time to time their legitimacy using expiratory trump. Mathew Karnitschnig from Politico made a good point in this matter when he marked a bizarre German self-delight with their ability to give up the construction of Nordstream 2.

German public debate bubbled with praises since on the 22nd of February Germany acted responsibly and probably saved the day by forcing Vladimir Putin to give up his aggressive politics against Ukraine. The fact that they had been the ones building the gas pipeline was busily omitted. A few days later after the famous speech by chancellor Scholtz in Bundestag on the 27th of February German media executed the expiatory protocol once again. The thing is that this theatrical apologising impresses no one, and the strategy of playing with expiatory trump simply lost its effectiveness.

I guess we should give Germans time to make them understand that their behaviour in this matter can be annoying. We should, since no matter whether we want it or not they will remain European power on which our economy and the lives of hundreds of thousands of Polish families depend.

  1. Tradition of commercial state

The third incredibly important tradition of German political culture, closely related to the idea of civil power, is the concept of the commercial state. I mean here neither some distant associations with medieval Hanseatic League nor any of the enlightenment notion such as the closed commercial state by Johann Gottlieb Fichte. A rather post-war belief that is much safer to hide political aspiration behind German business’s back, which ties with Nazism were successfully hushed up.

The post-war Germany adopted with amazing efficiency (the way they do!) the idea that was originally formulated in 1955 by Charlie Wilson, former head of General Motors, later nominated the United States Secretary of Defence. He said then: “What’s good for General Motors is good for the country”. These interests of the Federal Republic of Germany has become identical with interests of Daimler, Volkswagen, Siemens, BASF and Bosch.

If sometimes there is talk with respect to France about state chauvinism in their attitude toward the EU, where the European Community is merely an instrument for the French raison d’etat, the German approach could be safely called the economic chauvinism. Even Germans themselves stopped hiding this – just look into the new national strategy of industry economic development, which was published by then minister of economy Peter Altmaier in February 2019. According to it, EU policy ought to be shaped in such a way that would be beneficial for German industry.

Common sense, however, suggests that is there is no firewall between politics and business and the political elites responsible for overseeing the business are becoming at the same time an advocate of its interests, then sooner or later corruption is inevitable. But corruption does not fit very well to the elegant image of an arbiter of liberal-democratic elegancy, therefore it was successfully legalised with narrative about the commercial state. No one asked the question, of how it was possible that country functioning in a model similar to South Korean chaebols occupied for decades a place in the top 10 of the least corrupted states in the world.

Through all these years the fusion between political, business and media elites in Germany has become enormous. We are looking today at Gerhard Schröder with a growing abhor, but his mistake was only that he was too greedy and sold himself to Russian business. If he remained on the payroll of German business, he would still enjoy the splendour of being the former chancellor of Germany.

It’s also true that over time next generations of German political elites were developing in the spirit of methodical idealism the concept of the ancillary (subservient?) role of politics concerning business. It was especially clear in recent years. Chancellor Angela Merkel bring economic diplomacy to perfection when she chauffeured CEOs of Germans companies around the world and struck deals for them. She particularly often went on pilgrimages to China, therefore after 16 years of her rule German business is there everywhere. Pardon me to repeat myself, but the cherry on the top was Nordstream 2, which was through years hustled to the public opinion as a German business project, not the political one.

Germans, however, had to wrap the strategy into something, and the idea of the commercial state was not enough for this purpose. How to explain that the state calling itself a global agent of democratic values brokers in the construction of Volkswagen’s factory in Xinjiang province, where forced Uyghurs’ labour is exploited on a mass scale? For that reason, Germans have developed in their political culture, especially since the times of Willy Brandt’s Ostpolitik, the idea of “a change via rapprochement”, which in practice meant strengthening ties between countries via commerce (Wandel durch Handel). What is interesting, is the commerce involved arms trade: “No matter what you trade, it matters only that you create relations preserving peace and prosperity” – that is the best summary of German foreign policy.

The thing is, however, that this change took place indeed, except that in Russia or China, in Germany itself. Berlin has been more and more aware of the problem – the first warning bell was the sale of Kuk GmbH, a company manufacturing controllers for the most of the German machines, to the Chinese. Thus, Pekin gained at a bargain price the access to a numerous patents that are the fundamental resource of the German economy.

I must tell this once again – Germans are very able students and they are aware today that they fell into economical and political dependency by means of their Wandel durch Handel. But we cannot forget at the same time that Berlin’s political establishment digs deep into Daimler’s, Siemens’ and BASF’s pockets – the companies that float in sink (try to imagine where German establishment in this situation is now). German politics hides a lot of skeletons in a wardrobe, which is a heritage of the criminal past. After all, not every cooperation between politics and business went through the official, administrative channel.

Germany awaits a long and painful coming to terms with the past, especially with Angela Merkel’s belle epoque. The younger generation of German politics that has not got yet involved with the big business is already going to call for the account. For they understand that without dragging all those skeletons from SPD’s and CDU’s wardrobes up they will go under too. “Since this country’s bill of wrongs, a foreign hand cannot repeal” – let’s give Germans time for reckoning and support those German elites, who can get this process done.

It will be beneficial for us as well as for them since German business might be considered as a source of thinking about Poland and the whole region as a mere contractor, and not a real partner.

  1. The tradition of mediator in international relations (ehrlicher Markler)

There is a short way from Wandel durch Handel to the fourth great idea that organises German politics, that is Bismarck’s notion of the credible mediator. Otto von Bismarck throughout all his career, which highlight was in some way the Congress of Berlin in 1878, tried to position Germany as a mediator between feuding parties. If a conflict between Russia and Austro-Hungary, Russia and France or France and Austro-Hungary came up on the horizon, there Bismarck came up. The Iron Chancellor believed that playing the role of mediator will be the best instrument either for guaranteeing stability and building the Second Reich’s power in Europe.

But let’s go back to our efforts to understand post-war Germany. After the rise of West Germany chancellor Adenauer could not, for obvious reasons, continue Bismarck’s policy of keeping equal distance. Thus, Germans tradition of Atlanticism has been born. American army stationing in Germany and investments under the Marshall plan made its conception even easier. Gradually West Germany became an ambassador of American interests in Europe, what was symbolically highlighted in the Partnership in Leadership proclaimed by George H. Bush during his visit to Germany in 1989.

Changes caused by the fall of the Soviet Union opened, however, the opportunity to return to Bismarck’s heritage. Traditional Prussian orientation toward the East took twofold form. First, efforts for enlargement of the EU (that is common market) with Central European states, which was highlighted with a positive result from German perspective when the accession negotiations were opened in December 2002. Second, the great opening up for Russia. It is worth noting that these two forms were implemented sequentially until the symbolic censure in the 2003 took place.

At that moment Germany rested assured that Poland and other countries of the region would become EU members, which would be highly beneficial for Berlin. That was also the time when Germany get involved in the argument with the US about the Iraq War and in reaction to that conflict forged a coalition with France on the axis Paris-Berlin-Moscow that was meant as a potential counterbalance against the American idea of the division on “The Old Europe versus The New Europe”.

Although we need to honestly admit that the division, which author was Donald Rumsfeld, was a very convenient pretext for Berlin to become more open to Russia. Even more open, because in the nineties Germany attempted to create strong relations with Kremlin, but the new “alliance” had not been sealed until the beginning of negotiations about the Nord Stream pipeline, which were initiated by Gerhard Schröder.

The axis Paris-Berlin-Moscow I mentioned above became the very fundament for the construction of the concept of European strategic autonomy. Formally, the concept came up a decade later, but in fact it was already under development in the first years of the XXI century under the name of European Common Security and Defence Policy. What is important, also Russia found its safe place under the European roof. At the same time, Berlin tried to wear a costume of a guardian of the global, liberal world order, which was beneficiary for Germany itself.

Donald Trump’s victory in the presidential election caused a mass hysteria in Germany, not without a reason. When Trump started a commerce war with China, he not only stirred up global waters and disrupted a steady course of the ship of the German economy, but also, what was much worse, he named Germany as a state that is co-responsible for the globalisation’s negative direction of development. Thus in a single moment, Germany moved from a position of an arbiter in international and became a party. Staunch critique expressed by the US president and Trump’s later decision to impose penal tariffs for EU steel and aluminium has led to the situation when Berlin was indeed forced to take sides in the American-Chinese conflict. This was the situation that German has always wanted to avoid.

Trump’s failure and Biden’s election filled German hearts with hope that there is a way to get back to the old, well-tried trails. Hence in December 2020, literally at the last days of the German presidency in the Council of the EU Chancellor Merkel decided to push through a new investment deal with China. The Americans did not protest explicitly, moreover, last summer they gave a green light for commencing Nord Stream. One might have a feeling that even though president Biden was not happy with Berlin’s policy towards Beijing, he will not be fighting a battle for Germany’s relations with Kremlin.

Russia’s aggression, however, turned the tide completely. From the German point of view the best option would be Kyiv’s quick defeat, freezing relations with Kremlin for the time being, and then getting back to the business as usual with Moscow. The rub was that Ukraine did not give up, and Americans seemingly came to the conclusion that Kyiv is currently going under their sphere of influence since this would give them at the same time a temporary solution to the Russian problem and enlarge US room for manoeuvre in the Western Pacific. In the situation when Americans are nestling in Kyiv, any attempts of playing the role of a mediator are pointless. Moreover, president Biden made it clear in his Warsaw speech that if anybody is not with us, is against us. There’s no space here for mediators either in the global dimension or regional.

What is the worst for Berlin’s perceptive is the fact that Germany has for a very long time lost a capability of playing the role of ehrlicher Makler, because simply no one believes in their credibility. Désintéressement during president Steinmeier’s visit to Kyiv was clear and sound. I feel that still we do not appreciate the scale and the significance of the change, which undermines the fundaments of Germany’s foreign policy. In a way, Germany lost in a few weeks the work of more than 70 years and got back to the starting point, where Germans must once again find an answer to a question about the role of the US and Europe in their foreign policy. It is not realistic to expect that the government in Berlin will be actively shaping the transatlantic policy and will not take a passive stance.

  1. Tradition of fascinated anti-Americanism (Hassliebe)

Thus, we have come to the last of the five great post-war traditions of German politics, which is about their specific relation to the US. However this thesis might sound controversial, the fact is that the Americans built post-war Germany. And that has enormous consequences for the attitude of Germans towards the US, which is the best described by the name of Hassliebe. It is difficult to translate the term. Anglo-Saxons call it sometimes “love-hate relationship”.

On the one hand, Germans love Americans. They are fascinated with them. No other politician until Barack Obama gathered at his election rally in Berlin half a million people. On the other hand, Germans hate the same Barack Obama because he ordered to bug Angela Merkel and generally took Germany as a country, whose leader can be eavesdropped. Paradoxically, in this sense, Donald Trump’s election was a blessing for Germans because the new president was the so long-awaited reason that allowed them to finally speak out their hatred. Above mentioned axis Paris-Berlin-Moscow was meant to be a chance to at last get rid of Americans from Europe.

Forgive me that I am going to make use of two personal memories, but I think they might be useful to get a better depiction of some specific social mindset. I remember a story from the beginning of XXI century when I was a student. One day an American student joined our international group at a German university. My German colleagues instantly wanted to establish a relationship with him. At this point, everyone dreamt about a scholarship across the Ocean and lecturers, who had a chance to be in the US, were regarded as the better ones. But also I met then one of my distant German cousins for the first time, whose parents gave her name Jessica, she firmly insisted on referent to her as “Jesika”, and not – God forbid! – “Jessica”, since we were in Germany, not in America.

I am aware that this histories could mean nothing, but it is hard to be surprised that Germans are trying to set themselves free from the American presence, even at the symbolic level. It might be a revelation to Polish readers, but many Germans still view the US Army stationing in Ramstein military base as an occupation forces. Since the presence of the Russian army on Polish soil was a source of humiliation for many years, so maybe we are able to understand a similar emotion that our Western neighbours feel. Even if we are talking about an allied army.

By the way it is not an accident that one of the most famous German music bands took its name from exactly the same place, where the American forces are based. Moreover, the band devoted to American one of its most famous hits, which describes better than anything else the German way of thinking about the US. “We are living in America, America is wunderbar” is the great and most touching manifest of German Hassliebe toward Americans.

Understanding this let’s try to put ourselves in the Germans’ shoes, who are hesitating now whether they should send weapons to Ukraine. At the same time, Americans organise a meeting of the world’s leaders, which the main topic will be the rearming of Kyiv and the necessary means to defeat Russia. We at the banks of the Vistula River are very happy with this turn of the tide, but for the Germans this meeting is a great humiliation and a slap in the face for chancellor Scholtz’s government, its foreign policy and the whole German society as well.

Yes, I have no doubt that Biden’s administration was frustrated so much with the next political splits of German authorities that decided to humiliate them and force Germans to take another, this time right decisions. Alas, Americans unwillingly have confirmed the stereotypes. As Rammstein sang (nota bene, double “m” in the name is a mistake made by the musicians in their first song, but they have decided to left it so) in the song Amerika, “I know the very useful steps/And I will protect you from missteps/And who does not want to dance at the end/ Does not know that he must dance/ We create a lovely round dance”.

The question remains what the effect of this humiliation of Germans will be. Shall it help them to make a clear choice in the rivalry between the empire of “good” (USA) and the empire of “evil” (China?)? Although from the Polish perspective it would be better, if Germans got their stuff together and picked Washington, there is no certainty that this will be the case.

And histories like the meeting in Ramstein surely will not improve American publicity in German society, even if Germans themselves are getting more and more convinced that their relations with Russia and China were a historical disaster. As a side note, it is worth mentioning that the feeling of being lost and of chaos at the Spree River was so great that there are no voices of outrage now that the US behaves so brusquely. Germans are numbed.

Conclusions

I do not know what decisions Berlin will take concerning sending arms to Ukraine. I do not know, in what direction German foreign politics will follow in the upcoming years. I do not know, if and how long chancellor Scholtz’s government will survive. But I do know that we cannot afford the comfort of not cooperating with Berlin because simply we are tied together so strongly that if we allow the ties to loosen, we will shatter to pieces. I know that we have to help Germans somehow and not only criticize them. Taking the traditional German Besserwisser attitude will not improve the situation, since we know the best that it does not work.

Nevertheless, I will not answer what we should do. I fear a new German political idea that seems to emerge from the current crisis. It is a doomerism, according to which there is too late to change anything. I understand that German economical elites which represent the “holy” Federation of German Industries (BDI) and politicians digging in their pockets might have a feeling that everything is done and dusted. German car industry sells almost 40% of its cars to China and is more and more aware that it is going to lose the market and thus it is about to suffer a spectacular defeat. German chemical industry is so competitive due to the Russian gas supplies and basically without it is doomed. It seems to all of them that it is better to delay the death and prolong life on the same old rules, than to make a radical change that does not guarantee any chances for survival.

I am not getting any hopes up. The old political elites are scared anyway by the perspective of the skeletons falling out of wardrobes. If anywhere I can find hope, I am looking for it in today’s new generation of German politicians currently running in sneakers at Bundestag. Yes, they have no sense of responsibility for our region, but they much smaller sense of German Sonderweg. They take Germany as an ordinary country without the whole Nazi heritage. And that is the way they wanted to be treated and to treat others – as an ordinary country and not as descendants of victims of the criminal Nazi regime.

We need today this German normality since I have a feeling that it gives us the only chance of building anew the political relations between our countries, without this whole staffage of reparations on the one hand and the kitsch of reconciliation on the other. I wrote “political”, because I am confident about our economic relations, for even the cold war between us could not spoil them (nay!, the total worth of our commercial exchange has increased by half since 2015).

I am totally aware that in the game for our future the ball is definitely in Berlin. If Germans will not change their attitude toward Poland and the countries of our region, there will not be any talk about any partnership. But it does not mean that we have to remain helpless and only wait for any movement from across the Oder River. Forging the model of relations requires also our activity. Some of us still wish to see Germans as descendants of Hitler, but it does not lead us anywhere.

I have no illusions that building new relations between Poles and Germans will be easy, just because we will have closer ties with Americans for obvious reasons. And this will not facilitate our relations with Germans. But I am aware that today Deutschlandvehsteher is an endangered species in Poland and there is no good atmosphere to convince the sceptics for having good relations with Germans. Notwithstanding I wish to underline that sooner or later we will have to make it since the time will come when Americans will leave Europe and then we will be left with Germans for good and bad. That is why it is worth to get know them better, understand them and give them chance to do the same.