THE LONG ROAD TO RECONCILIATION
While the official relations between Poland and Germany were rather quite complex in nature and were not free from formal obstacles, the Polish-German cooperation of various social circles developed despite official obstacles. The establishment of dialogue was not simple, however, it was not impossible either. In 1958, the Action Reconciliation initiative was set up – this project was aimed at undertaking activities related to reconciliation and the building of bridges between people.
„We are still able, without any harm to the obligation of taking scrupulous political decisions, to oppose self-absolution, bitterness and hatred, if we ourselves really forgive, ask for forgiveness and implement this belief in practice”. Other organisations such as e.g. „Pax Christi” or the Central Committee of German Catholics maintained contacts with independent circles in Poland, related to, among others, the journalists from „Znak”, „Więź”, „Tygodnik Powszechny”, or the members of Catholic Intelligentsia Clubs. These contacts would often turn into genuine and long-lasting friendships.
The letter of the Polish bishops to the German bishops from the year 1965 constituted an important step towards the improvement of relations between the two nations. Its important message „We forgive and ask for forgiveness” was another step taken to initiate dialogue. The reply of the bishops, and then the Catholic memorandum of the Circle from Bensberg are other steps directed at the normalisation of mutual relations.
At the beginning of the 80s, following the events in Poland after the establishment of „Solidarity”, this movement found many followers both in the German Democratic Republic and Federal Republic of Germany. In Western Germany a spontaneous action was organised in support of the activities of the „Solidarity”. Right after the imposition of Martial Law, packages with food and drugs were sent to Poland. At the end of the 80s, initiatives which supported action for the freedom of German society in the GDR were also taken.
As a consequence of the economic problems faced by the People's Republic of Poland, problems with the growing social discontent regarding the current situation were more and more frequently encountered all over the country. The waves of strikes which were initiated at the beginning of the 80s and then suppressed by the imposition of Martial Law, were intensified. As well as economic proposals, slogans regarding the restoration of the legality of the social movement called Solidarity (full name: Independent Self-governing Labour Union „Solidarity”) also began to appear. In the situation of the growing crisis, the Communist authorities decided to start talks with the opposition groups. For this purpose, the decision was taken to commence Round-Table discussions where both the ruling Communist party and the opposition worked together to develop a programme for state reforms. The discussions were held from February till April 1989, and their result was, among other things, the decision to conduct partially free elections in Poland. The result of the elections held on 4 June 1989 was that the society was strongly in favour of the election of candidates who were independent of the Polish United Workers' Party, which allowed for the filling of all parliamentary seats to which the authorities agreed (35%). The government of the People’s Republic of Poland was headed by the first post-war non-Communist prime minister - Tadeusz Mazowiecki. On 29 December 1989, the Sejm amended the constitution and changed the name of the state to the Republic of Poland.
Federal Republic of Germany - GDR
The division of Germany and the differences in the economic sphere as well as in the principles of exercising foreign policy related to this fact led to the situation that one nation lived under two different political systems. The Communist party which was in power in East Germany - SED - maintained the monopoly governance system, while at the same time trying to isolate the society from the capitalist world. However, many Germans chose the path of freedom, making, not always effective, attempts at escaping. A wave of refugees tried to flee to the West by choosing a path through the embassies of the Federal Republic of Germany, e.g. in Prague, Warsaw or Vienna. The discontent did not decrease even after the appointment of a new leader. Erich Honecker was substituted in October 1989 by Egon Krenz. This, however, did not have any positive influence on the reduction in social tensions within the GDR swept by a wave of protests. On 9 November, the Secretary of the District Committee of SED - Günter Schabowski announced a (temporary) legal regulation which allowed each citizen of the GDR to travel to the West. In essence, this meant the fall of the Berlin Wall and the first step towards unification of Germany. At that time, the Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany - Helmut Kohl visited Poland. Having received information about the fall of the Berlin Wall, he interrupted his visit and went to Berlin.
At that time, the Soviet Union, which had hitherto constituted one of the axes of the bipolar division of the world, due to increasing economic and political crises as well as the policies of „glasnost and „perestroika” proposed by its leader - Mikhail Gorbachev - initiated the policy of détente in its relations with the West. This undoubtedly affected relations to the satellite countries which gradually underwent the process resulting in the admission of opposition circles to power. „The Revolutions of 1989” also covered such countries as Hungary (talks of the authorities with the opposition in summer 1989), Czechoslovakia („the Velvet Revolution”), Romania (the overthrow of the rule of Nicolae Ceaușescu), Bulgaria and the GDR.
Conference „A Christian in Europe”
Krzyżowa, as a place of historical significance, has for a long time been of interest to various international circles. This subject became particularly important at a conference devoted to the hundredth anniversary of the birth of Eugen Rosenstock-Huesse, which was held in the American town of Hanover in the Summer of 1988. Other international conferences devoted to the issue of Krzyżowa were organised in East Berlin. It was also the place where the meeting with father Adam Żak Ph.D. who later made the representatives of the Catholic Intelligentsia Club from Wrocław interested in Krzyżowa, took place. Researchers on the subject of the Kreisau Circle visited Krzyżowa several times. They saw the continued deterioration of buildings, but because of administrative obstacles, they were not able to do anything.
The Wroclaw Catholic Intelligentsia Club, the attention of which was brought to Krzyżowa, made attempts at rescuing this place. At the international conference in Wrocław („A Christian in society”) which was held on 02-04.06 1989, that is, on the day of the first partially free elections in Poland, a letter which proposed the establishment of „an international meeting centre for the young generation of Europeans” and of the „museum of the European resistance movement against Nazi Germany” was addressed to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of Poland.
Controversies surrounding St. Anne’s Hill
St. Anne’s Hill, which was also called St. George’s Hill and Chełmska Hill, has since pagan times, played the role of a place of worship and congregation for believers. It is also regarded as the „Holy Hill of Upper Silesia”. Archbishop Alfons Nossol also called it the „Hill of faithful prayer and hope”. In the Catholic church in the Upper Silesia region, the practice was adopted to serve the believers in their national tongue, hence cardinals Jerzy Kopp (1887-1914) and his successor Adolf Bertram (1914-1945) took the decision to make the priestly ministry available to the Polish minority in the Polish language. Holy masses could be held in Polish, and religious texts did not face any obstacles in reaching the Polish-speaking parishioners. On 15 December 1921, Cardinal Bertram even issued a relevant order which was in force until 1939. The celebration of bilingual masses was interrupted by the outbreak of World War II. The ban was continued by the Polish Communist authorities after the war. This time, it referred to the holding of masses in German. The need for the celebration of bilingual masses was fully accepted by Bishop Ordinary of Opole - Alfons Nossol. The first mass in German took place on St. Anne’s Hill on 4 June 1989.
Traditions of bilingualism in worship on St Anne’s Hill date back to the 19th century. Franciscans held divine service there for each linguistic group as early as 1861.
In June 1983, St. Anne’s Hill was visited by Pope John Paul II. During his homily he addressed the faithful with the following words: „Sons and Daughters of this Earth! Do not ever stop crying out in the language that was the language of your ancestors – do not ever stop crying out to God: Abba Father!”
21.06.1983 (John Paul II – the sermon on St. Anne’s Hill)
„Strive for the forgiveness of your sins and for the forgiveness of temporal punishments as much as possible with the right internal disposition. Strive for reconciliation: above all, a deeper and deeper reconciliation with God himself in Jesus Christ and through the works of the Holy Spirit, and at the same time, reconciliation with people, whether they are near at hand or far away from you - the ones who are present on this Earth and the ones who are absent. This Earth still needs reconciliation on many levels, as I have already said in Wrocław, referring to the work of St. Hedwig”.
In principle, the village of Krzyżowa was not in any way different in 1989 from other similar towns. On the premises of the former von Moltke family property there was a State Agricultural Farm, which used the former manor buildings for the mass production of food. The buildings which constituted the property were of no historic significance for the farm administrators, except for functional significance, and additionally they were owned by the state which resulted in the increasing degradation of the historical value of this place. The fate of the farm buildings, which had fulfilled a similar function before the war was also shared by the palace – the most representative building of the entire complex. As it was never renovated, year after year, its condition became poorer and poorer. For the inhabitants of the village, the courtyard became a sort of a market space, where life went on. Already in the 70s of the 20th century, scientists, historians and persons interested in the history of the von Moltke family became interested in this property. Attempts at bringing attention to the historical value of the buildings made by, among others, professor Karol Jonca from Wrocław University were not well received by the local authorities. Private initiatives taken owing to the involvement of the parish priest in Grodziszcze - Bolesław Kałuża - saved this place from oblivion.
The Kreisau Circle is one of the most well-known German resistance movement groups, which took action against the national socialist regime of Adolf Hitler. The activists from the Kreisau Circle as well as many other people who acted in defence of the freedom of man and a just world order, and thus, against violence and totalitarian structures, risked their lives consciously through their actions.
The Group, having been uncovered by the Gestapo in 1944, was referred to as the Kreisau Circle as three important meetings of opponents to the regime were held in the years 1942 and 1943 at the Berghaus in Krzyżowa, on the estate of Count Helmuth James von Moltke.
The Kreisau Circle was formed around Helmuth James von Moltke and Peter York von Wartenburg. A decision was made by letter in the year 1940 to create a contact network to act against the then government together with other persons who held the same views. The first contacts were significantly expanded during the following months. However, not all the activists belonged to the Kreisau Circle, not all of them were informed about the whole project or took part in the meetings at the Berghaus. In comparison with other resistance movement groups during this period. the Kreisau Circle was a heterogeneous group. It included people representing various political views and various denominations often with different opinions. They were united to work through the dialogue on the common objective which was to find a way to reorganise Germany after the defeat of the Third Reich. Among the activists of the Circle, there were also persons of noble birth such as Adam von Trott zu Solz, Carl-Dietrich von Troth or Horst von Einsiedel, who professed liberal views, but still their attitudes were conservative. Owing to Adolf Reichwein, many social democrats such as, among others, Carlo Mierendorf and Theodor Haubach, and later on also Julius Leber were part of the circle. The Catholic Church was represented mainly by Jesuits from the area of Southern Germany (Delp, Łukaszek, Rósch and others), and as representatives of the Protestant Church, it is also necessary to mention here Stelzer and Poelschau.
The Kreisau Circle Resistance Movement is often referred to as a passive movement, and because of this, there were some who would diminish its significance. The truth is that the group's activists, despite numerous contacts with other groups who did not shy away from using violence, worked almost exclusively theoretically. Many participants of the Circle thought that the national socialist movement could be fought down more effectively from the inside, than by the sheer elimination of certain individuals. The members of the Circle regretted that an individual lost their significance because of the homogenisation of the nation, therefore, in their opinion, it was necessary to strive for the rebuilding of fundamental values. National socialism among the masses will not last long; if man cannot take responsibility for themselves and their immediate environment, they will not be able to decide for themselves.
The aim of the activists from the Kreisau Circle was to introduce thorough state and social reforms. They believed that in this way it would be possible to create a real upheaval of lasting importance. How could the end of the rule be brought about so as to achieve the X day? Whether through internal or external influences (capitulation) was a disputable issue among the activists from the Kreisau Circle. At the centre of their reflections, were however, the preparations for the period after the end of the Nazi rule.
Plans for the future were developed with regards to the respective specific themes in smaller groups. Many secret meetings were also held in Berlin and Munich and not in the „headquarters" in Krzyżowa. As a consequence of this, the meetings were an opportunity to discuss conclusions which often aroused controversy, and after the discussion the said conclusions were adopted as guidelines for general social acceptance. The most important subjects discussed by the activists from the Kreisau Circle included the issues related to the reconstruction of the state, law, foreign and economic policies and matters related to political awareness. Particular emphasis was placed on the role and meaning of churches after the events of the recent years. The members of the resistance movement gathered around Helmuth von Moltke were distinguished by the strong - for those times - association with Europe. The national-socialist movement and its crimes spreading all over Europe gave rise to doubts related to the sense of existence of the German national state. As the strengthened cooperation created opportunities for lasting peace, the plans of the group were not just German plans, but also European ones. Contact with other countries was sought during the war. The present European federation with the monetary union was thus a subject of reflection for the Kreisau Circle.
Because of the imprisonment of Helmuth James von Moltke, the Kreisau Circle was dissolved at the beginning of the year 1944. Only after the attempt on Hitler's life on 20 July 1944 and the following arrests, did the Nazis discover the dangerous ideas of the intellectuals who had met in Krzyżowa. Eight of the activists belonging to the Kreisau Circle were sentenced to death, including Helmuth James von Moltke.
PREPARATIONS FOR THE MASS
Preparations for the visit. Arrangements of the advisers.
Before the planned visit of chancellor Kohl, many talks were held, both between the heads of the two governments and also between their advisers - Mieczysław Pszon and Horst Teltschik. Many fundamental issues, which were to become the subject of talks in Poland had been discussed. The advisers also touched upon various details which could disrupt the visit or be poorly received by the public opinion of both nations and the world. Particular attention was paid to the issue of the confirmation of the inviolability of borders, the regulation of the situation of the German minority and the establishment of cooperation for the future. It was generally believed that in order to make this happen, all issues related to history would have to be clarified, i.e. it would be necessary to recall the guilt of the Nazis related to the damage done to Poles during World War II, but also the situation of the Germans who had lost their homeland (and the 2 million of them lost their lives) as a result of escapes, expulsions and displacements.
Preparations in Krzyżowa
The text written by priest Kałuża comes from the „Parish letter” from the year 1989.
I won’t exaggerate when I say that the speed of events was as fast as in a good American western movie. Given the controversies related to the Polish-German holy mass on St. Anne’s Hill and perhaps unnecessary emotions on both sides - as in my personal opinion, though my grandparents and a few uncles fought for this hill against Germans as Silesian Insurgents, this Holy Mass was not in any way an insult to this place, and on the contrary, it rather elevated its status - on a governmental level, a different place had to be sought. And just as an aside remark, this whole hysteria may remind one of the unjustified emotions referring to the Carmelite convent in Oświęcim. That’s how Krzyżowa came into the picture. And now rapid developments take place. Thursday the 2nd of November - All Souls’ Day. At about noon, there is a phone call from the Metropolitan Curia in Wrocław: - As ordered by the Cardinal, today at 2.00 p.m. – please expect an important governmental delegation at the church in Krzyżowa. I started to smell a sensation. A phone call from the Provincial Office with very similar instructions made it even clearer to me. From 2.00 p.m onwards, together with the directors of the Office and the Head of the commune, we were waiting for the delegation which had flown from Warsaw and was supposed to arrive in Krzyżowa by car, together with the province governor. The waiting gets drawn out. At 4.15 p.m. I needed to leave the waiting and go to Boleścin to conduct the mass devoted to All Soul’s Day. Already here I encountered a column of police cars with flashing lights and several limousines rushing to Świdnica. I give way to them. So they go. They go there and I go here. I lead the procession and pray for the Dead, I celebrate the Holy Mass. After my return, I find out that they were in Krzyżowa and Grodziszcze, saw everything - the parsonage, the room, and asked how many guests can stay there, now they leave. After a few moments, the province governor informs me about the same on the telephone.
I see! Instead of St. Anne's Hill - Krzyżowa! But is it possible? And if so, I see God’s will in this. And after all, it will be St. Anna! Not there, but here, not this famous one on the Hill soaked with the blood of insurgents, but here in the foothills, in a small village, which is also the heritage of the Grandmother of Jesus. At St. Anne’s parish!
3.XI. - a visit to the Metropolitan Archbishop, Cardinal Henryk Gulbinowicz. Nothing is known yet. Right now this is just a site inspection. 4.XI – a phone call from the Curia: „At around 3.00 p.m you can expect a visit of the delegation of the government of the Federal Republic of Germany”. Yes, I can expect it, if I have time. I still have two Saturday-Sunday Masses to celebrate! Just in case I ask the Dean Priest for help. And it was very useful, the waiting gets longer and longer again, but there is a message broadcast by Polish Radio: the Polish-German Reconciliation Mass will be celebrated on Sunday 12 November in Krzyżowa. It will be attended by the Polish Prime Minister and the Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany.
Finally, the German delegation has arrived. It will be chaired by an adviser of the Chancellor - Mr. H. Teltschik. Again, a site inspection takes place in the church and in the courtyard before the ruined palace. Then Grodziszcze - also the Church, the churchyard and the parsonage. Long talks, some bargaining, everybody has their own reasons and arguments. Discussions about safety, requirements set by the quests and the province governor, etc. and the decision: An open-air mass in the courtyard in Krzyżowa. Some refreshments at the parsonage in Grodziszcze for about 30 persons. So, that was a fact, which alarmed all of us! That night and the following few days, and starting from Sunday 4 November, a real marathon and a race against the clock begins. The invasion of journalists, reporters, photojournalists, live sessions of endless questions and telephones. Everyone wants to know something! And the plans. How to do it in the best and cheapest way? What concept should be assumed? I know! AT THE SITE OF JESUS’GRANDMOTHER! Therefore, we borrow the altar from „Solidarity” at the Świdnica ZWAP and we modernise it. It must be roofed to protect it from rain and this is done by the Wrocław KIK, the future owner of the palace, together with the Wrocław-based company „Cobex”. In the altar, there is a painting of St. Anne, the one from our parish church. The governor of Wałbrzych will make sure that all the necessary regional services will be helpful, the same is offered by the Head of the Commune, the Mayor of the city and all the departments. Also the army gets involved in helping. Sound amplification for the square is ensured by ZWAP Solidarity. The liturgical order is consulted with the Curia in Opole, where the main presider will come from. The programme and the texts for the Reconciliation Mass will be prepared. Priests from the dean's parish, liturgical service and the Choir of the Mother of God, the Queen of Poland and our Schola are also invited to help. Preparations continue.
On the square, general clean up and delivery of materials, sand is delivered to harden the square. The materials are secured by the province governor. The work is in full swing. Cleaning is done by the PGR (State-owned Agricultural Farm), farmers clean up their farmyards. Also the cemetery on the hill and the chapel as well as the so called Berghause are cleaned up. Despite the coldness at night, it was very hot - the idea was to make up for all the omissions from the last 45 years or at least to „retouch” the general picture.
From the middle of the week, also the Polish and German safety and security services and the representatives of the German embassy intervened directly. New arrangements and requirements started to appear, the talks were not always easy, e.g. roofing for the entire international delegation was demanded. This could not be accepted as the whole view of the altar would be covered. A message came that there is a German company coming to build the altar and the roof. Our altar was just about to be finished, so we proposed that the company could provide the roofing for the side tribune for the German officials. On Thursday evening, the representatives of Germans asked me if it was true that there would be an image of St. Anne in the altar. Yes. Don’t do it – they said to me. Mr Chancellor will really appreciate it. I understood the implied meaning. I try to comprehend it, but what now?
I gave my consent painfully. Poor St. Anne! It must be changed. To whom? How about St. Hedwig - she came from Germany but she established herself as the mother of the people of Lower Silesia and the patron of Silesia. Let her be the bridge and the symbol of reconciliation for both nations. But where will we get her from? The altar is ready, the army is doing the finishing works, and where will we place her? What is she going to be like? There was just one night left, we still needed her and everything else had to be adapted to her. Thanks to the courtesy of Bishop Józef Pazdur, she was found in the archdiocesan museum and next day she was already right in her place. Beautiful, ancient, smiling and joyful - rejoicing at what she will see, the kiss of peace and reconciliation between two nations which she herself brought together in her heart long time ago.
On that same Thursday, there was one more surprise! Because of the collapse of the Berlin Wall of hatred and the Cold war, the chancellor had to interrupt the visit which had just started. But can we be sure that he will be back? There is an assurance that he will, even if he were to attend only the Sunday Mass. But hours of anxiety last. Hard as it is, the preparations also keep going, we are really close to the end, but we just need to take care of the flowers, the pavements and the dignified chairs for the government officials which the province governor got from the museum in Kłodzko, and finally, She, the bridge that connects both nations, the symbol of reconciliation - St. Hedwig of Silesia! And the chancellor did manage to return!
THE COURSE OF THE MASS IN KRZYŻOWA
Prime Minister Mazowiecki was the first to arrive to Krzyżowa. He travelled to Wrocław by train and the remaining section of the route was covered by car. He appeared on the square in Krzyżowa half an hour before the Chancellor, who left Warsaw at night together with the accompanying delegation and journalists. Before reaching the square, the Chancellor and the Prime Minister went to St. Michael’s church adjacent to the walls of the property, where they had the perfect opportunity to take their time and pray, and to look at the specially prepared exhibition which presented the history of the Krzyżowa village and its most famous inhabitants. Having made an entry in the parish book, both representatives of the governments went to the square in the centre of the built-up area, where they were welcomed with a standing ovation by the faithful gathered on the square. The crowd chanted „Helmut!, Helmut!”. Also shouts to Prime Minister Mazowiecki could be heard from the crowd. Polish and German flags as well as numerous banners in Polish and German could be seen over the crowd. Before the altar, the guests were welcomed with bread and salt according to the old Polish tradition. The words of welcome to the gathered crowd were expressed by parish priest Bolesław Kałuża. Having taken their seats on the elevation of the altar, they waited for the beginning of the mass. The procession of the Polish and German clergymen moved towards the altar. The celebrated mass was presided over by Bishop Alfons Nossol. On the Polish side, the mass was concelebrated by parish priest Bolesław Kałuża and Vice Bishop Tadeusz Rybak – the representative of the Wrocław diocese. On the German side - Prelate Paul Bocklett and Adalbert Kurzeja (the Benedictine Abbot from Maria Laach).
As agreed, the mass was held in Polish and German. The faithful gathered on the square received brochures with prayers and chants in both languages. Owing to this, they could participate actively in the liturgy of the holy mass.
Prayer of the day
Almighty God, all nations are of common origin and constitute one family. Penetrate the hearts of all people with your love, and make them wish for the progress of their brothers, let the goods which you lavish upon the whole humanity serve the progress of every man, let all divisions in the human society disappear and let equality and justice prevail. Through Jesus Christ, our Lord.
The words of welcome to the gathered crowd were expressed by parish priest Bolesław Kałuża.
An introductory speech was given by Archbishop Tadeusz Rybak, emphasising how important it is for Christians to pray together and overcome the divide between man and God, as well as the divides between people and nations, bringing the gift of reconciliation and peace.
„I would like to welcome very warmly the Prime Minister, Mr. Tadeusz Mazowiecki, to whom we refer as „our Prime Minister”, because he enjoys the trust of the Polish society and leads the country to those values for which our nation struggled for many years and which it wishes to follow. I would like to welcome all the present members of the Polish Government as well as those persons who accompany our Prime Minister”.
„It is our particular joy that we can, with great respect, welcome in this Christian community gathered here the Federal Chancellor, Mr. Helmut Kohl and all representatives of the German Nation who arrived in here together with Mr. Chancellor from the Federal Republic of Germany and who live in Poland on a permanent basis”.
„With all my heart I would like to welcome and greet You, Dear Countrymen, and would like to thank you that you have arrived in such great numbers to express our Polish solidarity in faith and in hope which cannot mislead us”.
Homily delivered on 12 November 1989 in Krzyżowa
„To walk together – reconciled in truth and love” - Bishop Alfons Nossol
In a homily prepared especially for this occasion, Bishop Nossol emphasises how important reconciliation is for both nations. He admits that the gift of mutual forgiveness may be the heroism, which must, however, be undertaken in accordance with the spirit of Christ in order to build a new chapter in mutual relations. He also paid attention to the fact that it is not possible to demand that World War II be forgotten as a dreadful chapter in the lives of many people. However, forgiveness is an essential requirement of the Christian faith and existence, therefore, we must cry sincerely „Forgive us our trespasses as we also forgive those who trespass against us”. Thus, the Archbishop recalls the letter of the Polish bishops who addressed the German bishops in 1965, saying „we forgive and ask for forgiveness”. He also emphasised that the Christian faith is based on forgiveness.
The archbishop also referred on many occasions to Helmut James von Moltke, who, as a true Christian believed in ideas which made him use all his endeavours to ensure that people live in a state which is strongly rooted in ethics – based on Christian values. In this place, he quoted one of the declarations of the Kreisau Circle: „In Christianity we see the most valuable forces for the ethical-religious renewal of the nation, for overcoming the hatred and lies, for the reconstruction of the West, for the peaceful cooperation of nations”. The members of the Circle even dared to risk their lives, fighting with the enemy of the fundamental principles of an individual.
Bishop Alfons Nossol: „Dear fellow worshippers of Jesus Christ. We all know well how politically difficult this visit is, although it concerns neighbours in the very heart of Europe. There is no way to erase the awareness of the historical burden resting on us.
Another focus of the meeting was the common prayer said together by the representatives of the Evangelical Church and the Catholic Church, which started with the following words:
„Inspired by the desire for mutual understanding and accord, we ask God – Father of all people and nations, for the gift of reconciliation, peace and cooperation between the nations neighbouring with us”. Bishop Heine-Georg Binder addressed a cordial greeting to all the gathered Evangelicals and Orthodox Christians and recalled the Memorial of the Evangelical Church from the year 1965. Here are some excerpts:
„Ethical considerations should lead to indispensable consequences, with the clear understanding of mutual trespasses and without sanctioning evil, which cannot be justified, that the relations between the nations, and especially between the German and Polish nations must be ordered anew, and the notion and the matter of reconciliation per se must be introduced as an indispensable factor into political action”.
Prelate Paul Bocklet also recalled the exchange of letters between the clergymen from Poland and Germany in the year 1965. This was, in his opinion an example of the belief in the beginning of a dialogue and reconciliation. He also addressed the faithful with a request to God to give them strength and courage to reconcile. He recalled the millions of victims of national socialism who died because of the politics of contempt and hatred towards man. He also mentioned those who died as a result of occupation, escape and exile.
„Lord, may their sacrifices admonish us, so that no hostility could ever exist between our nations. Only You can forgive the immeasurable fault. Set us on the road to reconciliation” In Krzyżowa, a place where the anti-Nazi opposition was active, the memory of those who became victims of persecution because they dared to oppose the criminal regime should be kept alive in particular. In this place, Father Alfred Delp and Father Maksymilian Kolbe were mentioned as representatives of the Catholic Christianity, while the Evangelical Christianity was represented by Juliusz Bursche – the Bishop of the Evangelical-Lutheran Church in Poland and Helmuth James von Moltke.
„Lord, let your light shine upon them and also give us strength to follow their example”.
A prayer was also said for those who still live in this world and who were directly at fault in relation to their fellow human beings:
„Lord, lead them to the awareness of their guilt. Give them the power to accept their misconducts. Make them ready to ask for forgiveness and to be open for its acceptance”.
„Let us pray for the Polish and German nations: Lord, give us strength to come out of the shadow of the past and let us find mutual understanding. Make new horizons of hope emerge through the Polish-German youth exchange”.
Earnest prayers were said for the nations of Europe, for the elimination of the division between the East and the West and for overcoming differences and striving for unity, taking into account cultural differences of the respective nations. These nations should have the right to live and be free of any disasters and wars. They should also have the strength to overcome mutual prejudices and differences and have the gift of alleviating the „hunger, poverty and misery of refugees” as well as the readiness to bring them help.
The common prayer said by the representatives of the Catholic Church in Poland was mainly based on the request for the gift of reconciliation and peace. Having said the Eucharistic prayer „Of reconciliation” a sign of peace was offered. Then Chancellor Kohl and Prime Minister Mazowiecki gave speeches on the subject of reconciliation between nations. Liebe Freunde aus Polen, liebe Freunde aus Deutschland! Dear Friends, Mr Chancellor, reverend bishops! Chancellor Kohl emphasised the historic meaning of the place where the mass was organised, calling it the „heart of Europe”. He also paid attention to the words uttered during the homily, which referred to the need to learn the lesson from history and pave the road to the peaceful coexistence of both nations. Prime Minister Mazowiecki pointed out the need for brotherhood, emphasising the merits of the Kreisau Circle in this aspect and expressing a hope that the holy mass which had just been held would help to strengthen the brotherhood and give strength to spread it among the nations. After the mass, the heads of the governments also discussed some political and economic issues. Prime Minister Mazowiecki pointed out that the issue of payment of compensations to former forced labourers would be important for Poles. He also demonstrated understanding for the interruption of the visit in connection with the events in Berlin.
The Joint Declaration
The most important document that ended the visit of the Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany was the „Joint Declaration” signed by both heads of governments on 14 November 1989 in Warsaw.
A reference was made in the said document to historic events which got in the way of the mutual cooperation of both nations in the 20th century. As these issues were clarified, a plan for strict cooperation in the future was drafted. It was supposed to cover all fields of economic and social life in both countries. The good will of both governments as well as the willingness to lift all constraints heralded a significant breakthrough in the relations between Poland and Germany.
The treaty of 7 December 1970 was treated as a solid foundation for the normalisation of bilateral relations.
Poland gives its consent to the establishment of a national pavilion in the former concentration camp Auschwitz by the Federal Republic of Germany, the placement of plaques commemorating the German resistance movement in the castle in Krzyżowa and in the former headquarters near Kętrzyn as well as in the house in Chełmno where Kurt Schumacher was born.
Further, less important arrangements were focused on separate agreements on youth exchanges. Attention was paid to the significance of the contribution of the young generation in the shaping of the „peaceful future of Europe”. The financial security intended for the accomplishment of the set objectives was to be a fund that would serve the financing of the projects for both interested parties in Poland. The funds from the outstanding credit payments from the year 1975 were allocated to this purpose. In particular, the funds were supposed to serve the following purposes: „An exchange of youth and construction of shelters and meeting centres for the youth” and „the restoration and preservation of the monuments of culture of European and historic significance”.
In conformance with the deep and long-lasting wish of their nations, both parties - in the development of mutual relations oriented towards the future - will strive for the healing of the wounds of the past through understanding and reconciliation, and will strengthen their mutual trust in order to shape a better future together.