Likes Poles Jews

Politicians of the Polish ruling party »Law and Justice« (PiS) want Germany to make reparations for the Second World War. "We're talking about huge sums of money," said Jaroslaw Kaczynski, chairman of the national conservatives. There is talk of up to 840 billion euros.

It is questionable whether the claim will be successful. But if, contrary to expectations, Germany actually pays, Warsaw should put some of the billions aside as a precaution. Because Poland would also have outstanding bills to settle - to its Jewish citizens.

Pogroms for Jedwabne, for example. The Jews of the eastern Polish city were rounded up in July 1941, crammed into a barn and burned alive there. Their property has been looted. Not from the Germans, but from Poles. Jedwabne was not the only pogrom during the German occupation. The Nazis were able to rely on the sympathy and active assistance of the population in their anti-Jewish murder measures. Violent anti-Semitism in Poland did not begin with the German invasion. And it didn't end with their defeat.

In 1946, one year after the end of the war, 40 Jews were beaten to death by a mob in Kielce after rumors had spread in the town that Jews had kidnapped a child for the purpose of ritual murder. In fact, it was about material interests. The 200 or so survivors and returnees of what were once 25,000 Jews in Kielce claimed back their property, which the Polish neighbors had appropriated after the deportations.

The ruling communists blamed their opponents on the right to blame for the Kielce pogrom, which resulted in tens of thousands of Shoah survivors fleeing Poland. In 1968 they proved that they themselves were hardly inferior to those in terms of anti-Semitism. After student protests that were critical of authority, the communist government initiated an anti-Semitic campaign. The party, the military, the administration and the universities were systematically purged of "Zionists". 25,000 of the 40,000 or so Jews were forced to emigrate. Little has remained of Poland's centuries-old Jewish history, despite all efforts made after 1989.

Self-image The endless suffering that Germany inflicted on Poland is beyond question. The suffering that Poles caused their Jewish fellow citizens before, during and after the Second World War has only been dealt with for a few years - against considerable resistance, especially from the ranks of the PiS party.

In agreement with a large part of the population, the ruling party cultivates the nation's self-image as a victim. The fact that Poles were also anti-Semitic perpetrators is often ignored. The demand for German reparations is "a question of elementary justice," said Prime Minister Beata Szydlo. She may be right there. But the same question arises for your country and its citizens.