Polish-German relations

The relations between the Polish and the German Democratic Republic was, at least officially, partnerships and friendships. Indeed, at the state level in the 80s they were good, though – what needs to be borne in mind – the first secretary of the Central Committee of the Polish United Workers’ Party in 1980-1981 Stanisław Kania was unpopular with the leadership of the SED (Socialist Unity Party of Germany), led by its Erich Honecker leader. The cause was too moderate attitude towards the counter-revolution Kani, for which German comrades felt “Solidarity”. Despite the reduction in cross-border traffic of communist East Germany after the formation of the compound, the contacts at the level of the party and state were still alive. At the same time, our eastern neighbors far more willing to talk with representatives of the party in the Communist Party of concrete, among which saw successor too soft – in their opinion – Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party. GDR authorities gave the authorities in the People’s Republic of aid after the introduction of martial law – it was not limited to the resources needed anyway to pacify public protests, but also within it transferred unavailable (or more precisely it is hard then available) goods such as alcohol and tobacco. On the good relations between the authorities of both countries lay in the shadow of the border conflict concerning the delimitation of territorial waters in the Pomeranian Bay, especially sharp in the second half of the 80s until it ended an agreement in May 1989.


Worse were the relations between the Polish and the Federal Republic of Germany. Despite the improvement in the 70s communist authorities treat West Germany, as one of its main (next to the United States) opponents. This has not changed even moderate attitude during the German authorities “Solidarity carnival” and after the introduction of martial law. And even the fact that after 13 December 1981. Federal Republic of Germany governing Social Democrats torpedoed suggestion of sanctions against Poland and the Soviet Union, which probably was not in their interest, would mean a decrease in trade and possible insolvency by PRL. Breaking down a western diplomatic boycott of the authors of martial law, as evidenced by the two-day visit of the Deputy Prime Minister even Mieczyslaw Rakowski in Bonn at the end of December 1981. The leaders of the Polish folk trying to use this soft authorities of Germany, which did not prevent them from politicians traced to West malice. The reason for this was that the Bonn led a policy of “two strategies”, which attempts to maintain good relations with the communist authorities on the one hand and informal gestures at the “Solidarity” on the other. The latter could not please the ruling in Warsaw. As a result, for example. After the award of the Nobel Peace Prize to Lech Walesa in 1983. In retaliation for supporting his candidacy (including the Bundestag) is not limited to anti-German propaganda campaign, but also tightened visa criteria against journalists West or introduced (for several weeks) censorious record movies and songs from West. In propaganda, especially since the beginning of 1983., When West Germany has already ruled the Christian Democrats, the GDR they were the good Germans and Germany these bad – rewanżystowskie, lurking on the recovery of Gdansk, Szczecin and Wroclaw. Did not make it, of course, Polish-German relations. Besides the lack of a clear break with the West German government from Landmannschafts led to the failure of the planned in 1984. Visit of the head of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Federal Republic of Germany Hans Dietrich Genscher in Poland. Finally came to her in 1985. Despite the apparent revival of the Polish-German diplomatic relations continue to harm the Landmannschafts activity and too warm (think of Warsaw) the ratio of the West German government to them on the one hand, on the other hand the development of relations between the Communist Party and the opposition SPD, which does not liked the ruling Christian Democrats. It was not until the years 1988-1989 were a period of intensification of contacts Polish authorities and the Federal Republic of Germany, especially after the establishment of the government of Mieczyslaw Rakowski. Strengthened by the willingness to make concessions on the part of Bonn. As a result, at the end of 1989. There has been a visiting German Chancellor Helmut Kohl in Poland in 1990. To sign a treaty with the Germans already united, confirming our western border.


A separate issue, the unofficial contacts, interpersonal. West Germans gave the Poles after the introduction of martial law, a large charitable contribution (with the full support of the government, which freed the shipping fee), sending millions of packages and shipments of food, medicine and so on. Their value in three years was estimated at over 300 million marks. This is at least in part allowed to break the anti-German stereotypes – especially that of the donors were many former inhabitants of Silesia, Pomerania and Mazury. By the way similar assistance, but on a much smaller scale gave the Poles also residents of the GDR. On the other hand, it was Poland that was in the autumn of 1989. Proverbial “window on the world” for the thousands of people in eastern Germany, who want to get into the Federal Republic of Germany, separated by the Berlin Wall still. Refugees could count on the kindness and help the Poles, who brought them sandwiches and invite them to their homes. It could be argued that improving relations ahead of improving political relations between the two countries.


Grzegorz Majchrzak