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Adolf Bocheński

Political essayist and activist (1909-1944)

On Polish-German Relations

What may be derived from our theoretical premises? Above all, the impropriety of the proposition that geographic circumstances forced the German Reich to employ a continually hostile policy against Poland, and secondly, that the German?s attitude towards us, which is favorable, may undergo alteration in the future. The best evidence at present for the first statement is the current state of relations between our two countries. In reference to the latter statement it must be stated that hardly anybody would object to it at all. When considering today?s territorial relations, the number of Poles who imagine that Germany?s attitude towards Poland will always be the same in the future as in the case of Sweden to Denmark or France to Spain is so minute that we do not see any reason whatsoever to delve into this issue at length. As a matter of fact, it would be unjust to impute such a viewpoint to someone like Władysław Studnicki. The concept of Polish-German relations put forth by this excellent author and brave politician is based upon the economic blossoming of Central Europe by way of a customs union consisting of Germany, Poland and Hungary. It is in this fashion, and not by mechanically retaining the status quo that, he would like to maintain good Polish-German relations in the future.

In any case history supports the point of view which reality dictates. Many editors find relief by stating that between the beginning of the 16th century and the end of the 18th century there was not a single serious Polish-German dispute. This viewpoint is incorrect. Conflicts and competition with the Brandenburg electors or with the Habsburgs were always the order of the day at that time. One thing is certain for sure. The relations between Poland and Prussia or Austria were undergoing constant change over this period, and after the covenant they flared up quite easily. In order to acquaint oneself with this issue, I recommend a review of Hoetsch?s study of Polish-Prussian relations over the period from 1640 to 1815. The testaments of the Hohenzollerns themselves constitute an interesting contributing factor. For instance, the Great Elector, in his political testament dated 1667, advises good neighborly relations with the Republic of Poland, to maintain friendship with it, and even to assist it in its war with Sweden. He writes ?Denn an ihrer Conservation und Erhaltung beruhet Ewere und Ewerer Lande Wohlfahrt ". Frederick Wilhelm the First in his testament dated 1721 advised his successors to have good relations with the Republic. ?Mit der Republicke Pohlen ist gut in gute Freundschaft leben und sie ein gut Vertrauen bezeugen ". Therefore in the 18th century we encountered such testaments written by Prussian kings and we experienced the Polish-Prussian Covenant, but in this same time frame we also experienced the first partition. The study of the course of Polish-Prussian relations reveals no continuity - other than the continuity of change. After the Alvensleben Convention, we saw the proclamation of two Kaisers. Hitler was not alone assume when he arrived on the world stage after Stresemann and Treviranus. Conversely, Otto Bismarck assumed power a long time ago after polonophiles Arnim and Willisen.

The static view of foreign policy by the great European powers does not longer corresponds to the younger generation. On the one hand, we must consider the possibility of having good relations with the German Reich for certain periods of time. On the other hand, we cannot believe in their longevity and constancy. These are fundamental guidelines to which the Republic should adapt. But while eliminating illusions in the West, we cannot allow them to be nurtured by the other party to our east.

Między Niemcami a Rosją , ?Polityka" 1937. Reprinted by Wydawnictwo Nałęcz, Warszawa 1994, p. 13?15


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