Did Poland’s WWII grievances delay German ambassador’s approval?

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John MACDOUGALL / AFP

Poland has finally accepted the appointment of a new German ambassador after an unusual delay of nearly three months.

The designate, Arndt Freytag von Loringhoven, should have taken up his post in June, when his predecessor, Rolf Nikel, retired.

There has been heavy speculation in Polish media about why the ruling Law and Justice party took so long to accept von Loringhoven.

Szymon Szynkowski vel Sek, Poland’s deputy foreign minister, announced the acceptance late on Monday but also referred to Polish sensitivity toward the memory of the Second World War.

“It is even more difficult to heal this wound when one takes into account the recurring attempts to falsify history and the failure to fully account for faults and grievances,” the Polish diplomat said to the PAP news agency.

“In this context, the attitude of Germany and German politicians is of particular importance.”

Jürgen Hardt, a foreign policy spokesman for German Chancellor Angela Merkel, welcomed the acceptance but described the agrément as “overdue”.

On Tuesday, Poland commemorates the 81st anniversary of the invasion by National Socialist Germany in 1939, which began the Second World War.

Six million Jews were murdered during the Holocaust, three million of them Poles, and a further 2.5 million non-Jewish ethnic Poles were killed during the war.

Last month, Poland’s President Andrzej Duda said that the lack of a Polish voice during the World Holocaust Forum was “falsification of history”.

The Polish conservative daily Rzeczpospolita had reported that von Loringhoven’s father had served as a military officer for Nazi Germany during the war, and that ruling party leader Jarosław Kaczyński opposed his appointment.

German’s DPA news agency also reports that Bernd Freytag von Loringhoven prepared the daily military briefing in Adolf Hitler’s bunker from 1944 to the end of April 1945 as an adjutant to the Army Chief of Staff.

“It remains incomprehensible to us that the Polish government delayed the granting of the agrément for so long,” said Hardt.

“Ambassador Freytag von Loringhoven is an experienced diplomat who has worked all his life for close and trusting cooperation with Poland.”

On Monday, von Loringhoven visited the branch of the Pilecki Institute in Berlin together with the Polish Ambassador to Germany, Andrzej Przylebski.

The German embassy reported on Twitter that von Loringhoven had “emphasised that the memory of history is very important to us and that the Germans admitted their responsibility”.

Arndt Freytag von Loringhoven has previously served as the deputy head of Germany’s Federal Intelligence Service, and as Germany’s ambassador to the Czech Republic.

He also became NATO’s first chief of intelligence in 2016.

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