The German weekly Der Spiegel has stirred up a hornets nest in Poland by suggesting - by daring to suggest - that some Poles (they single out farmers) collaborated with the Nazis during WW II.
And not just Poles - French, Romanians, Latvians…etc - collaborated with the Nazis, says Der Spiegel’s lead story this week.
It’s really an article about Ukrainian SS officer John Demjanjuk, just extradited back to Germany from the US on war crimes dating back to when he was responsible for the death of thousands at the Sobibor Nazi death camp in southeast Poland.
But the article gives the German journalists the chance to point out what has been perfectly obvious for many years - that there were collaborators in each of the nations the Nazis occupied. Even the some residents of the British Isle of Jersey collaborated with the Nazis. This is no revelation. But…
Cue outrage in Poland! Politicians, journalists all saying the same thing. This is another example of a creeping trend - Germans trying to transfer the guilt of the Holocaust onto others.
“Ja! Ze Nazis ver German, but hey, Hans!…ja vol!…zis was not an essentially German problem…schnell, schnell…look at all ze nations zat helped us!”
The article comes in the wake of the controversy over the German Expellees Union, headed by Erika Steinbach, who wants to emphasise that some Germans suffered both under the Nazis and in the wake of WW II, when millions of Germans were forcefully expelled from regions that were now in Poland and many other countries - often brutally so.
Der Spiegel editor, Mathias Müller von Blumencron, has pointed out that it was never his intention to claim that the Nazis were not a German problem but that the cooperation of others in the occupied countries was essential to carry out their deathly, murderous project.
Which is probably true. But isn’t that obvious?
Poles, though, don’t really do the historical guilt trip very well. As a nation, Poles see themselves as victims - and that goes back to the revolutionary, Romantic period and has been reinforced ever since.
Poles are not like the British, Americans, maybe some French…they are not trembling with guilt and angst about historical crimes done by their countries in the past. Poles have been the victims of racism many times more than they have been the perpetrators. It’s an important part of the national identity.
So, Herr Spiegel: if you dare to suggest that some Poles went along with the horror - and even though you are correct - don’t act the wide-innocent when you get accused of making German-Polish relations just that little bit more difficult.
Below, BWT, is a photograph of a Polish official checking ID in the Krakow ghetto during occupied Poland.
Thursday, May 21, 2009
Posted by beatroot at 5/21/2009