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    Germans and Poles: Common history divides the European neighbours

    Germans and Poles disagree on whether the sacrifices that the Polish people have made throughout history have been sufficiently recognised by the international public. This shows the “German Polish Barometer 2018” that was presented on the Körber History Forum. It also shows: the neighbours seem to hardly know each other.

    The representative survey commissioned by the Institute of Public Affairs, the Körber Foundation and the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung shows: 66% of Germans and 70% of Poles have never visited the other country after 1989. Overall, more than half of the Poles (56%) are friendly towards Germans, while 29% of Germans reciprocate this feeling. The figure on both sides of the Oder River depends on whether respondents have ever visited the other country.

    Of the Germans who have been to Poland regularly since 1989, 70% say they like the country. The equivalent figure for regular Polish visitors to Germany is 68%. These approaches to rapprochement are being overshadowed by a newly-emerging debate.

    “In view of the chequered and at many points encumbered shared past, what Germany and Poland have achieved together in and for Europe is a success story,” says Gabriele Woidelko, Head of Department History and Politics at the Körber Foundation. “However, recently controversies have arisen again between the neighbouring countries in tackling history-related issues”, Woidelko continues.

    Germans and Poles disagree on whether the sacrifices that the Polish people have made throughout history have been sufficiently recognised by the international public. 50% of Poles feel there has been insufficient recognition, 17% of Germans share this opinion. Regarding demands for war reparations from Germany to offset Poland’s losses in World War Two Polish society is divided: with 46% of survey respondents supporting reparations, because Polish losses from World War Two have still not been properly financially compensated, and 40% saying the issue is closed, and the two countries should focus on working together in the EU. Among surveyed Germans the vast majority (76%) feel that there should be no payments and the countries should devote themselves to cooperation within the EU.

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