A spat between Germany and Poland revolving around World War II-era culpability escalated on Tuesday when a conservative Polish weekly news magazine, Uwazam Rze, published a cover story with an illustration of German Chancellor Angela Merkel as a concentration camp prisoner, under the headline, “Falsification of History: How the Germans Are Turning Themselves into Victims of the Second World War.”
The hostilities were precipitated by a German mini-series that aired earlier this year. It depicted the roles of ordinary Germans and other groups thought to harbor guilt for the atrocities of the era, but without the moral judgement that has been applied so often in the past.
“Unsere Mütter, unsere Väter” (“Our Mothers, Our Fathers”) has been attacked particularly viciously by those in the Polish press who claim it not only portrayed Germans as victims, but it falsely represented the roles of Polish resistance fighters.
The show depicted Poles shunning Jewish members and failing to help others heading for Auschwitz. In one scene, a partisan boasts “we drown Jews like rats.”
Last month Poland’s ambassador to Germany, Jerzy Marganski, protested the series in a letter sent to German public television station ZDF, which broadcast the show.
“The image of Poland and the Polish resistance against the German occupiers as conveyed by this series is perceived by most Poles as extremely unjust and offensive,” Marganski wrote. “I, too, am shocked.”