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Poles and Germans


Poland shocked EU diplomats with its fierce negotiating tactics even
before it joined the club, and after three years of membership
neither the ferocity, nor the shock, have gone away.

Power and money are always the toughest issues for the European
Union to solve.

Poland's forceful debut at the negotiating table came when the EU
was deciding on things like milk and potato starch quotas for the
new member states, which would determine Polish farmers' incomes.

The big issue at this summit, for Poland, is about power, and the
weight of its vote when the 27 EU member states take any decisions
that do not require unanimity.

Diplomatic wrangling

Poland is against a new voting system for these qualified majority
votes, which would tie voting strength to the size of a country's

And since the summit can only take decisions by unanimity, Poland
can easily bring the whole thing "crashing down", as one diplomat
put it.

Give-and-take is the essence of an EU summit. If a prime minister or
president is communautaire he or she makes compromises that allow a
deal to be reached for the common good - or at least for the sake of

The UK and the Netherlands, which have also come here armed with
some tough demands know the rules of the game. An opt-out here and
there, some changes of wording, a few genuine concessions on both
sides, and a deal can be stitched together.

Post-war bitterness

Poland is altogether more unpredictable.

There are even signs that it may start arguing with Germany - which
is chairing the summit, and setting the agenda - over World War II.

The proposed new voting system would link voting strength to
population, so Poland sees the question of its war dead as highly

""We are only demanding one thing, that we get back what was taken
from us," Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski told national radio this

"If Poland had not had to live through the years of 1939-45, Poland
would today be looking at the demographics of a country of 66

The country's population is currently 38m, compared to Germany's
82m. Since Poland has 27 votes to Germany's 29 under the existing
system, Germany would be the biggest beneficiary of the proposed

Rubbing salt into the wound, Mr Kaczynski added to his comments
about the "unimaginable injury" inflicted on Poland in 1939
that "Poles like Germans, while Germans do not like Poles".

For the last few weeks, he and his identical twin, President Lech
Kaczynski, have been talking about "death" being better
than "capitulation" to Poland's EU neighbours on the voting

Poles were used to fighting alone, they pointed out, for example in
the anti-communist underground.

Their claims of being isolated and ignored, or not treated equally,
are partly true.

Voting arithmetic

Germany can afford to make concessions on some of the demands from
the UK, but it cannot afford to unpick the key parts of the balance
of power agreed in the constitution in 2004.

Voting weights, seats on the European Commission, seats in the
European Parliament - all of these issues, and others, are linked
and there is a risk of the whole deal unravelling if it is reopened.

That is why Germany was slow to even allow the possibility of a
discussion of the Polish concerns at this summit.

Poland has not quite been alone in the run-up to the summit. It has
had lukewarm support from the Czech Republic, and British
Eurosceptics have been cheering the Kaczynski brothers from the

They were delighted to see a country sticking up for its own
national interests, and threatening to veto the whole post-
constitution project.

But having failed to get anywhere with its proposal for voting
weights based on the square root of a country's population, Poland
is now talking about ways of making it more difficult for large
countries to block a qualified majority vote.

As they point out, three of the largest countries, plus one other,
can block any decision, whereas it takes a big coalition of small
countries to achieve such a result.

But British Eurosceptics are already complaining about a reduction
in Britain's ability to block legislation under the proposed new
system, and the kind of amendment that Poland is suggesting would
make that problem worse.

It is too early to say whether Poland will live up to its threat to
veto a mandate for an intergovernmental conference to decide on a
new treaty.

Some are predicting a long, drawn-out fight, leading to a possible
compromise some time around dawn on Saturday morning.

A more pessimistic forecast is that the summit will finish on time
on Friday. As one seasoned observer put it, "How long does it take
for the Poles to say No?"

Re: Poles and Germans

"Poles like Germans, while Germans do not like Poles".

The above comment struck me as an interesting point for discussion. Do members think this is true? If so why?

Re: Poles and Germans

Poles envy Germans. Germans do not like Poles.

Re: Poles and Germans

Do you think its envy? The Poles I know speak warmly of Germans. I know one girl (a librarian) who lived in Germany and still goes back. She speaks very highly of the Germans and has many German friends.

When in the past I would tell Germans that I am on Polish parentage there would be a little shudder running through them for a split second. They had thought I was English! We would then resume our very good relationships...bizarre. The girl I know thinks this is because they feel nervous about the War. I think maybe it goes deeper. I've come across a similar attitude in Danes I've been friendly with, but not at all with the Dutch, French or English. Why do you think the Germans don't like the Poles Victor?

Re: Poles and Germans

Scratch the surface and you'll find that many or most Germans think Poles primitive and unintelligent. I think a lot of this is due to the sort of Poles who work in Germany.

Re: Poles and Germans

The current government also does nothing to improve the image of Poles.

Re: Poles and Germans

We the Polish, need look out, the Germans want to take over. Stand your ground. Remember WW II. We all need and want the Polish input, and much control.

Re: Poles and Germans

Victor, agree 100%

Funny the poles that are always so patriotic are ones living in America,UK and not in Poland.

Poles envy Germany, They may hate it but as it is paying for most of the new roads, houses and most investment they would be better off shutting up and smiling. Ungratefull sods.

Poland always blames the war! Yes they suffered, move on!

Blame the idiots you voted into power for trhe mess not the past.
Poland is becoming the laughing stock of the EU.
That makes me really sad.

Re: Poles and Germans

Michael do you fear Germany taking over America?

Re: Poles and Germans

I could never happen, but someday they may try.
Germans suck, so why would the Polish want to be like them.
Poland has much more class the the Germans do, and everyone knows it, even you all.

Re: Poles and Germans

Ok so it is acknowledged that the Germans don't like and look down on Poles. This seems to be acceptable. Am I wrong in this assumption?

Re: Poles and Germans

Despite the negative comments on here, I am noticing more and more that Poles get on very well with Brits. The two nations seem to work really well together and maybe this will help achieve something really positive for both Poland and the UK.

Funny how they get on so well with Brits and not with Germans given that there was some genetic testing survey which said Brits have mainly German ancestry. Do Poles get on with the Spanish? There are a lot of Poles going to Spain because of the labour restrictions being lifted there.

Re: Poles and Germans

The vast majority of Poles in the UK have nothing to do with the native population socially. Their English language skills are often non-existent.

Re: Poles and Germans

But the British probably don't have the same attitude as many Germans and Americans do towards Poles.

Re: Poles and Germans

Americans? Americans don't dislike Poles.

Re: Poles and Germans

Angela - You are seriously misinformed. Poles fought for America’s independence, served (serve) in US Congress, and are one of the largest ethnic blocks in the US.

There are famous Poles in any given field in the US – politics, business, sports, or science. Poles have held the highest public offices that a foreign-born can serve in the US, national security advisor and chairman of the joint chiefs. Lech Walesa still turns out crowds when he visits. There are more high schools named after Pope John Paul II in the US than in Poland.

Germany, on the other hand, is a totally different story. Given long traditions of German intolerance and xenophobia, the situation is unlikely to change.

Re: Poles and Germans

Michael Dabrowski

I am pleased you are not living in Europe, it is the narrow minded racists that are stopping Poland.

'What can I do to help Poland'? you once asked,

Why are you so anti German, you have done nothing but hurl abuse at Germans on the forum.

Most intelligent Poles have nothing against Germany at all, only the elderly that have reason to complain. Times change.

Re: Poles and Germans

Ignore him!

Re: Poles and Germans

Most Germans don't really have an opinion on Poland and Poles. The majority are not in the least interested in the country. To illustrate my point - most of my friends have never even visited Poland, even though they live less than one hour's drive from Poland.

The stereotypes about Poles are all negative.

Re: Poles and Germans

Dajwid yes it's older people who were affected by or remember WWII that complain and it is a discussion about WWII in Euroland that triggered this thread.

It's similar to the attitude between the French and English and that was to do with a bitter war when? You still get Brits saying the French suck etc and it's old history.

I am curious based on your comments whether this attitude between Poland and Germany does indeed go back to the war. In which case how much of Goebbel's Nazi propaganda is still ingrained in the psyche of 21st century Germans? I thought there were great efforts made to eradicate such views post war and I've heard many young Germans are very anti such attitudes. However, is the older generation (both Polish and German) still ingrained in the old thinking and old hatreds?

Re: Poles and Germans

"The stereotypes about Poles are all negative."

Why do you think this is?

Re: Poles and Germans

"We dont need no education.
We dont need no thought control.
No dark sarcasm in the classroom ...
All in all youre just another brick in the wall.
All in all youre just another brick in the wall."

Pink Floyd!

Nobody believes what they teach you at school .

Re: Poles and Germans

Quoting Victor:

"I think a lot of this is due to the sort of Poles who work in Germany. "

"The current government also does nothing to improve the image of Poles. "

Re: Poles and Germans

Another reason:

Polish names feature heavily in German news reports for crimes of all types.

Actually this is the same in the UK now. The last time I was there, I noticed around half the court reports in a local newspaper included Polish names.

Re: Poles and Germans

"Nobody believes what they teach you at school"

So basically you are saying that people think like their parents and grandparents on both sides of the Oder Niesse line?

Re: Poles and Germans

No, I'm not. Most Germans don't think or care about Poland at all.

Re: Poles and Germans

As the Poles had Soviets teaching them anti german propaganda for fifty years then this "not listening at school" would explain why the Poles have a more positive opinion on germans.

Re: Poles and Germans

"No, I'm not. Most Germans don't think or care about Poland at all. "

Not even the older generation which is what we were sort of discussing?

Re: Poles and Germans

"this would explain why the Poles have a more positive opinion on germans."

As someone who spends most of their life in Poland, with a large expensive car with German registration plates, I can safely say they don't .

I think someone summed up the majority Polish attitude to Germans in one word here.

Anyway, I've had enough of this thread.

Re: Poles and Germans

It all depends on where in Poland you live. Hans I believe lives in the boondocks. Hence the native ‘redneck’ Poles he encounters there don’t like Germans.

Great majority of Poles under 40 who live in cities could care less about WWII or the Germans.

Poles who are in business sell mostly to Germany. They certainly don’t care about the war.

The older Germans, and I happen to know a few, still seem a little pissed off about losing territory after WWII. Younger ones don’t care.

Interestingly enough, you will never see a WWII vet in the US driving a German or Japanese – made car. Why? “Who won the war” they say.

It’s a generational gap.

Re: Poles and Germans

Also – Polish organized crime evolved in Germany in the late 80’s, not in Poland. All Polish mob bosses who were killed in the late 90’s spoke fluent German and some even held German citizenship. Just a little trivia.

Re: Poles and Germans

Yes Mike. My impression was that Poles used to be seen as car thieves in Germany due to a spate of thefts in the 90s (perhaps this is part of the organised crime you refer to).

Are you saying that Poles living in the area near the German border where Hans is are different from Poles in other areas? I've never been to that part of Poland.

Other than on the net, the only openly anti Polish German sentiment I have come across on a visit to Poland was a spotty german-speaking teenager with spiked punk-style hair in Krakow turning to his mate and saying the playing of the Hejnal Mariacki was "das ist scheiße" or words to that effect and then they snickered together "beavis and butthead" style.

Re: Poles and Germans

Nobody likes their neighbours, anywhere.

Re: Poles and Germans

Are you saying that Poles living in the area near the German border where Hans is are different from Poles in other areas? I've never been to that part of Poland.

They are all originally from other parts of Poland. Mostly from what is now Ukraine(Lwow, etc.). I'm not sure if that makes them different to other Poles!

Re: Poles and Germans

Summit over, Germany has friendly words for Poland
Web posted at: 6/26/2007 0:26:50
Source ::: AFP

BERLIN • Germany said yesterday it would work to heal wounds ripped open at the European Union summit, where its row with Poland showed how far the two central European neighbours have to go to put World War II behind them.

Poland's demand to boost its European Union voting rights at Germany's expense had tempers flaring, leading Chancellor Angela Merkel to threaten to push ahead for a deal without Warsaw at last week's summit in Brussels.

The ugly spat exposed tensions that still lurk just below the surface, six decades after the Nazi occupation of Poland.

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier acknowledged yesterday that Berlin felt it must now "turn to strengthening German-Polish relations."

Germany "has the duty to patiently seek a dialogue with Poland, especially in difficult times," given the fact that both countries were linked by "a terrible 20th century history," Steinmeier told public television.

With the summit's success in charting a way forward for EU institutional reforms, German government spokesman Ulrich Wilhelm stressed that Berlin would now extend a hand to its neighbour.

"I believe we can continue seamlessly in tending to German-Polish relations-that is also our intention," he told a government news conference.

"Poland is a big, important partner," he added.

Poland, the biggest of the 12 mostly former Communist states that have joined the EU from 2004, had threatened to torpedo the summit unless changes were made to the new EU voting system which, it claimed, favoured Germany.

Warsaw wanted the number of votes a country wields in decisions affecting the entire bloc to be calculated based on the square root of the country's population.

Polish Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski had said Poland was "willing to die" to get its way.

He later stunned Germany, which holds the rotating EU presidency until June 30, by invoking the carnage wrought in Poland by the Nazis, saying that without the war Poland would today be a country of 66 million people.

In the end, Merkel ceded some ground, brokering a deal that allows a small group of countries with almost enough votes to block a decision to have that decision re-examined.

Germany, with the European Union's biggest economy and a population of 83 million, is twice as big as modern-day Poland.

Before World War II, Poland had 35 million inhabitants.

Six million perished in the war, including three million Jews. Its current population is 38 million.

Warsaw and Berlin have locked horns on a number of other issues in recent years, including German plans to build a gas pipeline with Russia bypassing Poland. Then there is are claims to property by Germans who were forced to leave Poland after the war, and a German bid to erect a memorial centre for the expelled in Berlin.

European Commission vice president Guenter Verheugen, a member of Germany's Social Democrats who make up half of the governing coalition in Berlin, made the rare move of criticising his country's political leaders before the summit for underestimating Poland's fears of German domination.

"The German political elite have never understood how much German-Polish relations are sensitive and fragile," Verheugen, the EU's industry commissioner, told the Berliner Zeitung newspaper.

He said they should show more understanding for Poland's situation, which requires "solidarity, above all."

The German press, however, roundly blasted Poland's nationalist leaders, calling Kaczynski and his twin brother, President Lech Kaczynski, "poison dwarves" who were exploiting the war for their own aims.

The Welt am Sonntag newspaper described the haggling that preceded the deal as "torture" and predicted that relations between Berlin and Warsaw were heading for an "icy spell."

"Poland has failed to understand that the point of the European Union is to bury the hatred we inherited," it said in an editorial Sunday.

Jan Techau, an analyst at the German Council on Foreign Relations, said that despite the responsibility Germany still bears for the horrors of the Nazi period, it was right for Merkel to put her foot down with the Poles.

"Otherwise the summit would have spun out of control," he told AFP.

"The past inevitably frames policy between Germany and Poland but a compromise requires sensitivity and sober approach. Acting like a superpower would be damaging for Germany."

Re: Poles and Germans

""Poland has failed to understand that the point of the European Union is to bury the hatred we inherited," it said in an editorial Sunday. "

Is this the point of the EU? I hadn't realised!

Burying hatred only creates situations like this where it all explodes at importune moments. Despite my opinion of Kaczyinski and his lack of diplomacy, bringing this out into the open is no bad thing for Poland. It's like lancing a wound that has been festering for decades.