Poland: Talks of a Fourth German Reich spark political row

The Polish liberal establishment has displayed its ignorance by not understanding the nature and history behind the concept of a German Reich, writes Jakub Maciejewski

editor: Grzegorz Adamczyk
author: Jakub Maciejewski
Leader of Law nad Justice (PiS) party Jarosław Kaczyński (at the front) in the Polish parliament, the Sejm. (AP photo)

The leader of Poland’s ruling conservative party, Law and Justice (PiS), Jarosław Kaczyński, has referred to a “Fourth German Reich” in relation to Germany’s recent power plays, a term which Poland’s left-wing opposition has raised a real fuss over.

“Difficult deadlines have come for Europeans. Germans have put their cards on the table and want to build a Fourth Reich. We cannot allow this,”Jarosław Kaczyński allegedly said during a meeting of Law and Justice (PiS) lawmakers, according to journalist of liberal Polityka weekly Wojciech Szacki.

Poland’s liberal establishment is apoplectic. They ask how can someone say such a thing: “Fourth German Reich”?!

They accuse PiS’s leader of fanaticism. In their ritual condemnation of PiS, they also mention anti-German phobia and remind of Władysław Gomułka (the leader of communist Poland in the 1950s and 1960s), who had built some of communist Poland’s legitimacy around anti-German rhetoric.

Nevertheless, it is not worth it to immediately mock commentators and politicians who have become outraged by the term Fourth Reich. It is important to remember that the public discourse in modern Poland was formulated by readers of liberal-left Gazeta Wyborcza, which has flattened several terms and even gutted them just so that they could be filled with intellectual sawdust.

People like Szacki or Tusk may not know that the German Reich has a longer and deeper tradition than its Nazi version.

They may not have noticed the Roman “III” in Nazi documents, and if they had seen it, they may not have known that two and one come before three. They may not know that the term “reich” concerns a formula of a universal state which is meant to exceed tribal, ethnic and national borders and establish order in Europe.

It is enough to say that the term “reich” simply means an idea in which the German state expands its influence outside of its national borders.

The First Reich survived for close to 1,000 years (962-1806), the Second Reich less than 50 years (1871-1918) and the Third Reich existed for barely a decade. Each of these reichs founded its vision of a universal empire on entirely different structures, ideologies and styles of management, but they all had the same spirit — to unite Europe under the leadership of a single center of power located in the heart of Germanic culture.

It is, however, not worth writing about the Third Reich, as that subject is familiar even to the intelligentsia running liberal media.

It is enough to say that the term “reich” simply means an idea in which the German state expands its influence outside of its national borders. The First Reich did this through the idea of being an inheritor to Rome and a feudal hierarchy. The Second Reich did this through internal cohesion and coordinated foreign policy, and the Third Reich accomplished this through totalitarianism and military might.

The Fourth Reich plans economic and institutional (European Commission, Court of Justice of the EU) expansion supported by quasi-ideologies such as environmentalism and “rule of law”.

The reich is a political project based on positioning Germany in the center of European policy. It is not based on the spirit of a shouting man with a square mustache.

This ignorance is to be expected from mainstream commentators, however, as they had poor teachers and a lack of knowledge is typical among them. Jarosław Kaczyński should hire a personal PR spokesperson who could explain all sorts of historical and literary contexts in a very simple and unambiguous language, so that the Polish liberal elites would stop being shocked by so many simple facts of history.

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