The German movie, much talked about recently, is called «Our Mothers, Our Fathers» («Unsere Mütter, unsere Väter»). It is a symbol of Germany walking over a psychological milestone. Now the Germans think that, no matter what, the Wehrmacht soldiers were good guys. Even if they killed, it was done on order.
At that, the Russian servicemen are painted exactly as Goebbels described them, barbarian and subhuman. It’s not all. «Our Mothers, Our Fathers» is not anti-Russian only, it is also defiantly anti-Polish… The German director denigrates the two peoples, while lauding the compatriots in fascist uniform.
How does he make the Poles look? Having shot some Hitlerites, they behave like robbers and rush to search the dead men’s pockets, counting the booty on the run, things like watches, gold teeth…
There is mess everywhere the Poles go. If the Germans raise voices they mean business, the Poles just raise hubbub. But the main thing – the Army Krayova (A.K) fighters are shown as inveterate anti-Semites. Having shot German soldiers, who were guarding prisoners, they leave the poor men in closed carriages just because they are Jews, which «are better dead than alive, like the Communists and the Russians».
True, the relations between the Army Krayova and the Jews were tense. The fact is still discussed in Poland. But it’s not the issue here. The German movie is grossly biased; one of its specific features is that the German anti-Semitism is hidden behind the Polish anti-Jewish feelings. For instance, one of the main characters is a Jew, and not all Germans appear to hate him. At the same time, the Poles are ready to do anything nefarious to the Jews, for instance, shooting a German Jew, who was their comrade-in-arms they had been through thick and thin together.
Actually, the Jewish issue is a delicate one in Poland, it is a multifaceted problem. For instance, Berek Joselewicz (1764–1809) was a Jewish-Polish merchant and a Colonel of the Polish Army during the Kościuszko uprising in 1794. As a commander of a Polish cavalry unit Joselewicz fought in various battles of the Napoleonic period, he created the first all-Jewish military formation since the days of Roman Jewish wars in VIII CE. He was killed in the Battle of Kock in 1809 during an encounter with a unit of Austrian hussars, and today his grave has become a popular tourist attraction. Since those days the Polish language is enriched with a proverb «like Berek near Kick» meaning the situation is hopeless, there are no chances to make it through. Many streets of Polish cities and towns are called after his name.
Julian Tuwim is a Polish classical poet. He has written the article called «We, the Polish Jews» devoted to Polish roots and Judaism. The article is a reflection on the Warsaw ghetto uprising where Tuwim’s mother died.
There were pogroms in Jedwabne (1941), Krakow (1945) and Keltz (1946). For a long time it was believed that it was the Germans who did it in Jedwabne. In 2000 Jan Tomasz Gross, a historian published the book called Neighbors: The Destruction of the Jewish Community in Jedwabne. It went down with a bang. The book is devoted to hardships the Jedwabne Jews had to go through: they were thrown stones at, beaten with sticks and burned alive. The Poland's Institute of National Memory (Instytut Pamięci Narodowej) had to react. It spent four long years (2000-2004) to study this disgraceful page of Polish history. To large extent, the accusations put forward by Gross, were confirmed, though rather mild wording was used this time to describe the events. According to the version offered, it was the fault of Germans who incited anti-Jewish feelings among the Poles and the death toll was not 1500, as Gross affirmed, but only 350.
The same thing happened in relation to the 1945 Krakow pogrom. A story was launched to go around saying it was provoked by People's Commissariat of Internal Affairs, which, allegedly, wanted to tarnish the Polish anti-Communist opposition. The version was repeated to find justification for the events in Keltz.
But the German anti-Semitism grew to global scale; the extermination of Jews was massive. The film «Our Mothers, Our Fathers» does its best to conceal the fact.
History is the reverse side of politics. Painting the Wehrmacht soldiers as people of high moral standards is an attempt to bring moral alleviation to Germans after many years of repentance for the deeds of their predecessors. The customers and producers of the film have shown to the whole world that the time has come for Germans to raise their heads high and get rid of moral burden of fascism – it’s not easy for Berlin to implement its foreign policy with such heavy load on its shoulders…
Germany is a state which has always felt uncomfortable within its borders. It had political vigorousness and bellicosity to start two world wars, something hardly any other nation could do. Having suffered a devastating defeat in WWI, the blow that few could recover from, they hardly had time to take a breath and get it started all over again!
Another defeat made Germany artificially curtail its ambitions for an uncertainly long period of time. At that, the United States and their allies always turned a blind eye on the fact that SS and Gestapo veterans occupied top positions in the Federal Republic of Germany.
The German Democratic Republic resolutely fought all forms of fascism being close to the Soviet Union, the state against which the West hoped to direct the accumulated hatred of former Nazis.
West Germany and its social and political system was the page to be taken from the book when the unification of the country started. This part of Germany did not fight fascism as unconditionally as it was done in the East. West Germany set the basis for shaping the world and political outlook of Germans influencing the ideological patterns.
The unification of Germany made think the country would not be satisfied with what it had for a long time. It borders on powerful France in the West and relatively weak Poland in the East. The expansionism cannot be directed to the West, so it moves to the East. That’s why the film, which hits the screens today, is about staunch, intellectually refined Germans and primitive Poles, not the French. It’s also a springboard to exert pressure on Russia, a market for exports and a potential ally. It all has remained the same way it has even been, geography is hardly alterable.
Today Silesian separatism gains momentum in Poland. Some call for recognition of the Silesians as a separate nation, some hope Silesia will separate from Poland and join Germany. Silesia makes up for 67.8% of Polish citizens who don’t see themselves as Poles, or 92% of Polish Germans, to be exact.
Józef Kożdońis (1873-1949) is a shining example of stamina and inspiration for those who strive for Silesian autonomy. He was a Czech politician, a collaborator during WWII, an ideologist and ardent supporter of Silesia’s independence, the founder of Silesian People's Bank and of Silesian People's Party.
Berlin sends funds to Silesian pro-German organizations and demands more rights for local Germans, while the Poles in Germany have to do with much less in the sphere of culture. (1) There is a conjecture that some Polish media and organizations broadcasting and spreading information to West Belarus and West Ukraine also exist thanks to German money. Thus, Germany uses the Polish nostalgia for the lost lands to test the ways of establishing information control over Silesia. More often the return of property rights, lost by the Silesian Germans as a result of the Third Reich defeat, becomes an issue coming to the fore.
Germany seeks a more important role in world politics. Gradually but constantly it tries to change the information environment related to such a delicate issue as WWII. Being self-contained and repentant, the nation cannot carry out the tasks set by leaders. It needs self- assurance.
Today it starts with history; tomorrow it will influence the neighbors’ future.
1) «Oberschliesien uber alles…» (Mysl.pl numer 26 (12013)