Poland: German reporting equals German interference

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Reparation demands and German influence

The role of German journalists

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Duda challenger Rafał Trzaskowski. image: Platforma Obywatelska RP / CC0

Before the elections on Sunday, the Polish government camp played with anti-German resentments – directed against the German media, but above all against Trzaskowski, Duda’s liberal challenger

“He (Trzaskowski) is probably a guardian of German interests in Poland, who makes sure that they are not adversely affected,” said political scientist Artur Wroblewski in the recent evening news of the state broadcaster TVP – along with many other experts who warn of German influence and themselves against preserve the influences of the western neighbor.

The German-Polish conflict started with a cover story of the tabloid fact, which belongs to the Swiss-German publisher Ringier Springer. The sheet, which was modeled on the BILD newspaper, took off after Andrzej Duda pardoned a pedophile offender. President Duda issued a ban on the convict to his family at his request.

Earlier, Duda and the government camp that supported him had warned of child sexual abuse due to the influence of the LGBT movement.

The pardon is therefore considered a big mistake internally.

At a campaign event held by Duda, which is supported by the national conservative government party “Law and Justice” (PiS), the 48-year-old therefore campaigned against Germany, which interfered in the election campaign. He accused the world correspondent Philipp Fritz, whom he mentioned by name, of preferring Trzaskowski, as he was rather skeptical about reparations to Germany. Fritz had just analyzed, Members of the “Citizens Platform” (PO) could “strike a less confrontational tone in relations with Germany, for example”.

The editor-in-chief of the world, Ulf Poschardt, accused the president of making the mood and at the same time invited him to talk. The media in the government camp regurgitated themselves in return about the tone of the German journalist towards her head of state – the outrage could mobilize the electorate.

In Poland, the roughly 30 million eligible voters will make an important decision in the runoff election on Sunday, with both candidates tied in the polls. If Duda wins, the authoritarian course of the PiS, which won a second time in the autumn parliamentary elections, will be continued. Duda is considered the pupil of the influential PiS party leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski.

This means a further reform of the judiciary and possibly cuts in media law. Trzaskowski would prevent this by means of his veto right.

The accusation of the PO to represent more German than Polish interests is considered a proven means in the political debate. This worked particularly well in 2005: Jacek Kurski, then PiS campaign boss, now director of state television, was able to get the then presidential candidate Donald Tusk out of the race, who had been leading the polls for a long time.

Kurski found out that the Gdańsk’s grandfather had served in the Wehrmacht. The accusation of not being a true Pole unsettled Tusk and many voters – Lech Kaczynski, the twin brother of Jaroslaw, won.

Due to the dispute with Springer, two unpleasant topics for Berlin are again on the agenda in Warsaw: the reparation demands of the Polish government – according to the TVP, it should be around one trillion dollars, which have not yet been presented to the public. In Duda’s most recent spot, a German soldier can be seen briefly, like this one a Polish coat of arms eagle tears off the wall.

In addition, the influence of German capital on the Polish newspaper market is now making headlines again. Ringier Springer is still owned by Newsweek and the news portal onet, with the news magazine in particular being strongly oppositional. The Passauer Verlagsanstalt and the Bauer Group predominate in regional and local newspapers.

For the past five years, PiS politicians, such as Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, have repeatedly announced a forced sale, a “repolonization of the media,” and recently Justice Minister Zbigniew Ziobro said that they would take care of it after the elections. Even after the elections, the German representation in Poland can only be filled with an ambassador again.

Arndt Freytag von Loringhoven is still waiting for his agrément from the Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The embassy in Warsaw confirmed the delay on request without commenting on possible reasons. But both the government-critical and government-friendly media on the Vistula see the reason clearly in the current dispute with Springer.

This conflict can also have consequences for other German media representatives: Political scientist Tomasz Zukowski explains their true purpose in the TVP INFO news. The German correspondents would strive for their country’s rationale, which had shifted from the Atlantic line to a Bismark line, it was all about nothing but “geopolitics”.

The allusion that Germany and Russia could act against Poland again is linked to deep-rooted fear in Poland, which PiS voters are not the only ones. The understanding of the role of journalism that comes into play here probably stems from the Cold War – foreign correspondents from across the Iron Curtain were charged in the reporting area with bringing a political mission from their home country.

If you think so, you can hardly convey that the task of the journalists is to explain the respective country, its inhabitants, the motives of politics, the local readers, listeners and viewers.

In practice, the German journalists in Poland and the editors in Berlin, who comment on their eastern neighbor, have yet another role – that of the actor of Polish domestic politics – the reporting of public law, The Versatiles, the world and the FAZ Poland’s policy has been very well received.

Critical tones are taken up by the liberal side to show how the national conservatives have misbehaved again. Media from the government camp used the reports to outrage, as is currently the case, or it was pointed out that Warsaw now pursued an independent policy and did not need to please Berlin.

It cannot be denied that Trzaskowski and his party are more sympathetic to the majority of the media in Germany than the government camp.

According to the conservative Belgian historian David Engels, these are, in the eyes of the Germans, “cosmopolitan heroes in shining armor who try to save their country from economic ruin, clerical pedophiles, intolerant homophobes and Islamophobes, and evil and dictatorial ministers. There would be theirs The task of stubborn, soulless and simply knitted farmers from Eastern Europe hindered “.

This exaggerated representation that the Springerblatt “Dziennik” printed on Wednesday, certainly corresponds to the view of many PiS politicians who feel that they have been unfairly assessed.

However, the fact that the President is now personally attacking a correspondent at an election event is a new quality. This also led to expressions of solidarity by German journalists and German politicians, which just a little bit creates the inventory that the national conservatives imagine. This should not be a criticism of the reactions in Germany, addresses of solidarity are necessary, just an observation.

The author of these lines has hardly had any bad experiences with conversations with PiS supporters and PiS politicians. Often these were nice people who wanted to convince you of their mission. However, if Dudasch thinking should take over that German foreign rapporteurs are no longer allowed to analyze, exciting times are ahead.
(Jens Mattern)

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