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Polish Nazis: just idiots or an instrument of Germany’s propaganda machine?

Andrzej Duda and Frank-Walter Steinmeier. Photo: fakty.interia.pl

“Nazi Poles” are something one could hardly imagine in a country whose people faced most outrageous massacres during WWII. But, just a few days ago, a Polish TV channel showed to the Poles that there were such heretics among them and that fact gave rise to very emotional debates in their country. But if we take a closer look at this story, we will see that it may just be part of Germany’s policy to water down its responsibility for the Third Reich’s atrocities.

The TV channel broadcast a hidden-camera footage of a group of people celebrating the birthday of Hitler in the woods. One of the men wore an SS uniform, the other sang Nazi songs. The crown of the program was a wafer cake with a swastika.

The footage caused a huge uproar in Poland but not only there: Germany’s propaganda machine reacted immediately by organizing a TV debate about “a rising tide of Nazism in Poland.” But that reaction was not as strange as it might seem at first glance. A closer look has made it clear why the footage of a celebration that took place several months ago was broadcast at this particular time by a TV channel owned by foreigners and opposing the current Polish authorities.

The Germans’ reaction would not have been as strong some 3-4 years ago. Why? The answer is simple: under the Civic Platform, Poland had no ideology and followed in the footsteps of German diplomacy. For such fidelity, former Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk was even offered the office of President of the European Council.

Things changed in Oct 2015, when the Civic Platform was replaced by the national-conservative Law and Justice. One of the first things the new Polish rulers did was break free from Germany and insist on tougher sanctions against Russia.

Their persistence in opposing Russia and its Nord Stream 2 project became a real headache for Berlin. The Germans tried to be restrained but the last straw was Poland’s claim that they had to pay reparations for the deaths of as many as 6,000,000 Poles during WWII.

The author of this initiative is the Polish Government. Polish President Andrzej Duda mentioned the claim while meeting with his German counterpart Frank-Walter Steinmeier last September, while in December, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said that it was one of the top priorities of his Cabinet.

For several decades, Germany tried hard to water down its responsibilities for the crimes and atrocities committed during WWII and they almost managed to convince the world that responsible for them were the Nazis and the Third Reich rather than the Germans and Germany. For that purpose, they actively used cinema. Their last movies pictured the “poor innocent Germans” (including Gestapo men, submariners and NSDAP activists) who died on the board of Wilhelm Gustloff when it was sunk by a Soviet submarine in 1945, and “the tragedy of Berlin” ruined by the Soviet army.

So, it was not a surprise that the Germans freaked out when Poland’s refused to be loyal to them any longer. When on the last Independence Day, on Nov 11, 2017, as many as 60,000 Poles marched across Warsaw with white and red Polish rather than yellow and blue EU flags and banners “We Want God!”, the European Parliament used the big guns: “60,000 fascists, neo-Nazis and white supremacists marched in the streets of Warsaw… 300 kilometers more or less from (World War II Nazi German death camps) Auschwitz and Birkenau,” said a pro-German European politician. The pretext for him “to make a pitchfork out of a needle” (Polish equivalent for “to make a mountain out of a molehill”) was a “White Europe!” banner (held by somebody opposing the EU’s policy to receive Muslim immigrants).

The Polish authorities were very categorical about the incident in the woods. "You have to be a complete idiot to dress up in an SS man's uniform and eat a waffle cake with a swastika in the forest. We will crack down on this!" Interior Minister Joachim Brudzinski said while speaking in the Sejm.

He noted that in Germany, neo-Nazis were free to hold demonstrations. In Aug 2017, they marked the birthday of Nazi criminal Rudolf Hess.

According to Brudzinski, German neo-Nazis held over 400 manifestations all over Germany. They also organize concerts glorifying the Nazi ideology. One such concert was attended by almost 6,000 people.

"In Poland, such toads have to hide in the woods, but in Germany they walk through the center of Berlin," Brudzinski said in conclusion.

The Polish National Patriots were very emotional. Their MP said that Germany had no moral right to make any comments on Poland. “It was they who once sacrificed the Polish people - and now they keep preaching at us! It was they who said ‘Polish death camps’ – we have a court verdict, but they still refuse to apologize! And now they are debating on Nazism in Poland! What nerve! Poland is not the country where people promote Nazi ideas in the streets! I am telling the Germans: it’s your problem, not ours!”

Alexander Shtorm (Warsaw), specially for EADaily

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