Władysław Gomułka und Deutschland

Markus Krzoska


The relationship with Germany was a central theme for the Polish Communist Władysław Gomułka (1905-1982), who played a prominent part in the destiny of his country during the years 1943–1948 and 1956–1970. Influenced by the experience of Underground fight against the German occupants in the Second World War and his close relationship with the Soviet Union, he tried to anchor Poland firmly in the Eastern camp. As there was never a chance for the Communist ideology alone to get the majority vote in Poland, he proceeded cleverly in combining it with nationalist Slogans, using the fear of Germany deep inside the population. Till 1948 he made no difference between West and East Germans, but pleaded for an economic and political strengthening of Poland and the Slavic states on the whole while controlling the defeated Germany in the long run. After his Comeback in 1956, he continued to use the cold war vocabulary of his predecessors. Short attempts of political opening had been finished not later than 1958. Afterwards followed a phase of close dependence upon the Soviet Union, from which he took profit mainly in internal politics: At least for a time he was able to eliminate his rivals in the party and to consolidate his power. At this time the Propaganda against the Federal Republic reached its climax. It was connected with a general "criticism of capitalism". The relationship with the GRD remained mixed, although there were no problems to be admitted to the public. In 1969 there was a rapprochement to the Federal Republic, from which Gomułka expected solid economic advantages; this led finally to the Treaty of Warsaw one year later.
In fact, there was no change of his fundamental attitude towards Germany, which had been formed in his early years. In spite of changed conditions as regards world politics, the premises of his policy, i.e. to maintain the power of his own party and security from Germany, continued to be valid for him. The gradual development from a revolutionist to a reactionist, which could be followed in other respects and found a pertinent description by Milovan Djilas, could not be observed in his policy towards Germany. His greatest success in foreign policy, the treaty with the Federal Republic, initiated also his downfall hardly three weeks later. Ideology no longer was able to cover the problems of internal politics, the excuse of the German threat no longer was valid.