It is not up to Poland to "overcome" its WWII history - deputy FM

Rafał Guz/PAP

It is not Poland, the victim of World War II, that must "overcome its history" in order not to upset relations with Germany, Polish deputy foreign minister Szymon Szynkowski vel Sek wrote in an article posted on Thursday on the Brussels-based portal Politico.

Szymon Szynkowski vel Sek's text is a response to an opinion piece by the portal's contributor, William Echikson, the Director of the Brussels office of the European Union for Progressive Judaism (EUPJ). Echikson wrote that Germany was able to "overcome" its difficult history, asking why Poland cannot do it.

In the Polish official's view, Echikson put emotion ahead of logic and facts, in an attempt to discredit the Polish government’s policies in two particularly sensitive areas, relations with the Jewish community and relations with Germany.

"Echikson painted a particularly dark picture of the state of Holocaust remembrance in Poland. His conclusions are misleading and full of stereotypes. In reality, Poland commits vast resources toward Holocaust commemoration and education," Szynkowski wrote.

He added that Poland is one of a few countries in the world where Holocaust education is mandatory at all levels of schooling and that prevention of anti-Semitism has been an integral part of the country's governing party's policy.

Echikson also crticised Poland’s government for continuing "to wield history to poison relations with Germany" by regular demands to compensate Warsaw for the damage wrought on the country during World War II.

According to Szynkowski, maintaining mutually beneficial relations with Berlin will continue to rank highly on Warsaw's agenda, as they are of fundamental importance to the peace and prosperity of Poland, Germany and the whole of Europe.

But good relations can only thrive if based on open dialogue, he wrote.

Therefore the Polish government has started to speak up about Polish interests, including issues of historical importance, Szynkowski wrote.

"Germans still need to reflect on, and take action to overcome, the immense burden of history, the cruelty and unrepaired wrongs of WWII," he concluded.