A complete brain prosthesis is possible

"Complete reparation is not possible"

State Parliament President Klaus Schlie (right, at the lectern) recalls the horrors of the Second World War. Among the guests is the Polish ambassador Andrzej Przyłębski (center, front row) Photo: Thomas Eisenkrätzer

In a commemorative event with 150 guests from politics and society, the state parliament commemorated the German attack on Poland on September 1, 1939. The Second World War began 80 years ago, killing an estimated 60 million people, including six million Poles. The Polish ambassador in Berlin, Andrzej Przyłębski, gave a welcoming address. Prof. Martin Aust, Eastern European historian at the University of Bonn, classified the historical event in his commemorative speech. Before that, the President of the State Parliament, Klaus Schlie, welcomed the guests.

The President of Parliament recalled that the Second World War began in the early morning of September 1, 1939, when the German liner "Schleswig-Holstein" shot at the Danzig Westerplatte. It is particularly painful for the state parliament that Heinz Reinefarth, a war criminal and mass murderer, was temporarily a member of parliament. As an SS general, Reinefarth commanded German troops that put down the Warsaw Uprising in August and September 1944. Around 200,000 Polish civilians fell victim to the punitive action. Reinefarth was never prosecuted, and from 1958 to 1962 he sat for the BHE party in the Kiel state parliament. "I am deeply ashamed that this man was able to become a member of parliament," said Schlie.

Commitment to your own responsibility

The President of the Landtag referred to the efforts of the Landtag to come to terms with politicians with a Nazi past. This commitment to personal responsibility was "made with the sad certainty that full reparation is not possible". Today Germans and Poles have found a way to each other, "which would not be possible without the admission of guilt".

The Polish ambassador Przyłębski pointed out the devastating consequences of the war for his country. Poland had become the victim of a brutal occupation regime, which had the aim of murdering the leading class of academics, doctors, politicians and judges and of enslaving the entire people. After the German attack in September 1939, the Western Allies abandoned Poland in an "outrageous" way. After the end of the war, the “convenience of the West” also contributed to Poland falling into the “cultural regressiveness” of Soviet communism. The final liberation did not come until 1989.

Keeping memories of Polish suffering alive

The ambassador appealed to the Germans to erect a memorial for the Polish victims of National Socialism. Corresponding signals from Federal Foreign Minister Heiko Maas had been listened to very carefully in Poland. Przyłębski called on the German educational institutions to keep the memory of the Polish suffering alive: this must be “an essential part of the education of the young generation”.

The historian Prof. Martin Aust noted that the Polish "tremors and trauma" in Germany were not given enough attention: "Poland has the impression that the German public has not given sufficient account." He referred to the mass shootings, which tens of thousands to Victims fell, the deportations, the Jewish ghettos in Polish cities and the destruction of Warsaw during the punitive action against the uprising of 1944. After the war, however, there was a “German culture of repression” and a fixation on “one's own victim role”. Only the new Ostpolitik under Federal Chancellor Willy Brandt and his kneeling in Warsaw in 1970 brought about change.

Aust pointed out that the road to German unity began with the Polish protests against the communist regime in the 1980s: “Poland gave Germany and Europe freedom.” The historian's conclusion: “We Germans should not forget what suffering we are our neighbors, especially Poland. For us born later it remains the duty to remember. "