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Caritas across the Iron Curtain?: Polish-German Reconciliation and the Bishops' Letter of 1965 Piotr H. Kosicki East European Politics and Societies 2009; 23; 213 DOI: 10.1177/0888325408327846 The online version of this article can be found at: http://eep.sagepub.com/cgi/content/abstract/23/2/213

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Caritas across the Iron Curtain? Polish-German Reconciliation and the Bishops’ Letter of 1965

East European Politics and Societies Volume 23 Number 2 Spring 2009 213-243 © 2009 SAGE Publications 10.1177/0888325408327846 http://eeps.sagepub.com hosted at http://online.sagepub.com

Piotr H. Kosicki Princeton University

This article takes the November 1965 letter of Poland’s Roman Catholic bishops to their German counterparts as a starting point for historical inquiry into the nature and consequences of Catholic engagement in Polish-German reconciliation. The article begins with a close reading of the letter’s text and its philosophical-theological underpinnings; then, it discusses the letter’s reception history and its political consequences. The letter and its reception have a double significance: first, as an event in post-World War II European political, intellectual, and ecclesiastical history; second, as an ethical commentary on the spirit of dialogue promulgated in the constitutions of the Second Vatican Council. Although the letter helped to facilitate a process of Polish-German reconciliation that remains ongoing, this process has failed to assimilate the letter’s ethics of forgiveness. That failure has reinforced the roadblocks that hamper PolishGerman reconciliation almost two decades after the fall of communism in Europe. Keywords: Polish-German reconciliation; Roman Catholic Church; historical memory; Polish intellectuals Adtendite vobis si peccaverit frater tuus increpa illum et si paenitentiam egerit dimitte illi Et si septies in die peccaverit in te et septies in die conversus fuerit ad te dicens paenitet me dimitte illi —Luke 17:3-4 Nunc autem manet fides spes caritas tria haec maior autem his est caritas —1 Corinthians 13:131

In the late autumn of 1965, the Polish bishops’ delegation to the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965), sending pastoral greetings to the other national delegations at the Council, prepared also a letter to their German counterparts. The letter’s final words, “we grant forgiveness as well as ask for it.”2 The Polish United Workers’ Party (hereafter PUWP) apparatus responded by launching a propaganda campaign against the Polish Episcopate: official media and petitions by associations of workers called the letter “national treason” and “un-citizen-like behavior,”3 and the party 213 Downloaded from http://eep.sagepub.com by Calogero Puccia on October 18, 2009


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apparatus propagated the slogan “We cannot forget and will not forgive” as the obligatory stance of all patriotic Poles. Overnight, 20 years of anti-German ferment— palpable since the end of World War II, indeed often vigorously encouraged by the PUWP—seemed to have boiled over. This essay takes the 1965 letter as a starting point for historical inquiry into the ethical and political significance of Roman Catholic engagement in Polish-German reconciliation. I begin with a close reading of the letter’s text and its philosophicaltheological underpinnings; then, I discuss its reception history—both Polish and German, including press and political establishment as well as Catholic bishops and laity—and its political consequences. The letter and its reception have a double significance: first, as a major event in post–World War II European political, intellectual, and ecclesiastical history; second, as an ethical commentary on the spirit of dialogue promulgated in the constitutions of the Second Vatican Council. The bridge between the letter’s text and context is historical memory: the letter-as-text was a conscious response to memory of the past, a “living memory combined with forgiveness” put into words by the Polish Episcopate.4 Paradoxically, the letter-as-event itself became a site of historical memory, a point of reference in both Polish and German narratives that embodied the struggles of aggressors and victims coping with a traumatic past. Although the letter helped to facilitate a new process of Polish-German institutional reconciliation that remains ongoing, this process has failed to assimilate the letter’s ethics of forgiveness. That failure explains the roadblocks that continue to hamper Polish-German reconciliation almost two decades after the fall of communism in East Central and Eastern Europe.

The Text The Polish bishops issued the letter as an invitation to the German bishops to join in the Polish Church’s 1966 celebration of the millennium of Polish Christendom. It was therefore one of 56 letters delivered to the various national delegations at the Vatican,

Author’s Note: I thank Jan T. Gross, Irena Grudzin´ ska-Gross, and Adam Michnik for strongly encouraging me to pursue this topic in article form. From an idea nurtured at the “Polish-German Post/Memory” conference at Indiana University–Bloomington, 19-22 April 2007, the text has evolved with the benefit of comments from and conversations with Peter Brown, Anthony T. Grafton, Tony Judt, Danuta E. Kosk. Kosicka, Joanna Niz yn´ ska, and Jeffrey L. Stout, all of whom I thank, as well as the anonymous reader for East European Politics and Societies. The archival research was supported by an IIE Fulbright Fellowship. Abbreviations for references to archival materials are as follows: AAN—Archiwum Akt Nowych, Warsaw; AJT—Archiwum Jerzego Turowicza, Kraków; KIK—Klub Inteligencji Katolickiej (Warsaw); PZPR—Polska Zjednoczona Partia Robotnicza; UdSW—Urzad do Spraw Wyznan´ ; WSiSO— Wydział Stowarzyszen´ i Spraw Ogólnych; WWR—Wydział Wyznania Rzymskokatolickiego.

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yet, among these, the letter addressed to the German bishops had unique political undertones. No peace had been concluded between Poland and the Federal Republic of Germany (hereafter FRG) following World War II, so—even setting aside the ideological claims of PUWP propaganda that the FRG was a neo-fascist state—the Polish bishops were addressing citizens of a country with which the People’s Republic of Poland was still at war. Thus, the Polish-German border solution reached by the Allied leaders at Potsdam—without a Polish voice at the table—remained unrecognized by West Germany. Germans expelled from the “recovered territories” claimed a right of return and expropriation, and Poland’s full recognition of the German Democratic Republic (GDR) seemed to preclude the normalization of relations with the FRG. The Second World War moreover left a legacy of fear and resentment that the PUWP skillfully manipulated. Propaganda explicitly channeled this antipathy toward West Germany while exonerating East Germany, proclaimed to have “broken forever with militarism and nationalism.”5 The Polish bishops discussed this juridical, political, and institutional context in their letter; more than simply a political speech-act, however, the letter represented a complex latticework of historical, ethical, and theological claims. Forgiveness, forgetfulness (oblivio), and love (caritas) were the cornerstones of the Polish appeal for Polish-German reconciliation. Archbishop Bolesław Kominek of Wrocław, the author of the letter’s text, perceived the confluence of Vatican II and Poland’s millennial anniversary as an ideal moment for the Church to attempt to do what the State would not.6 Given that Polish reactions to the letter focused almost exclusively on its final words—“we grant forgiveness as well as ask for it”—it is essential to review the rest of the letter to understand the message of which that phrase was but one part. In fact, most of the letter was an extended Polak-katolik narrative of the traditional variety: Polish national identity and Polish Catholic identity developed in tandem and inseparably, in part as a response to centuries of German antagonism toward Poland, beginning with the Teutonic Knights, proceeding through Frederick the Great, and culminating in Adolf Hitler. Yet this German Sonderweg narrative was equivocal: historical memory of German antagonism seemed to be interspersed in the letter with . memory of what Basil Kerski and Robert Zurek have called “the great role of mediator that Germany played in the Christianization and Europeanization of Poland in the Middle Ages.”7 At the narrative’s conclusion, Kominek virtually apologized for the earlier equivocation: “Do not hold it against us, dear German brethren, that we have recounted what has happened in the last part of our millennium. It is less an accusation than our own justification!”8 The next sentence acknowledged “how large numbers of the German population bore up under superhuman pressure exerted on their consciences, for years on end, by the National Socialists.” But was this acknowledgment an olive branch or a tactical move? The answer to that question lies in an assessment of how the Polish bishops addressed two matters: (1) the concrete political issue of the “western lands,” which necessitated resolution of border and property disputes, and (2) the broader issue of

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how to cope with collective memory of the trauma of World War II. The bishops’ treatment of the western lands question, though taken by both Germans and PUWP propaganda as a sign of capitulation to West German claims against the Oder-Neisse border, was in fact deeply ambivalent. On the one hand, the Polish bishops expressed sympathy for Germans forcibly expelled from their homes in the aftermath of World War II: “We well understand that the Polish western border on the Oder and Neisse is, for Germany, an extremely bitter fruit of the last war of mass extinction. Part of the bitterness is caused by the sufferings of millions of German refugees and expellees (expelled by an inter-Allied order of the victorious powers at Potsdam in 1945).”9 This statement, while sympathetic toward German trauma, clearly attempted to separate Poland from the question of responsibility for that trauma: the parenthetical phrase’s bitter tone reinforced the claim made subsequently that Poland had not in fact been among the “victorious powers at Potsdam.” According to the Polish bishops, then, Poland, dealt a fait accompli by the United States, Great Britain, and the Soviet Union, was itself victimized from afar when it was excluded from the negotiating table at which the decision was made to force Germans to leave their homes. In the next paragraph, the national-political thread of the bishops’ argumentation became even stronger, as they argued that Poland had, if not a legal right, then at least a moral claim to the western lands. The paragraph began, “Our fatherland emerged from the mass murder not as a victorious state, but extremely weakened. What is at stake for us is our existence (not a question of ‘more Lebensraum’). Without the western territories, it would mean that our more than 30 million people would be compressed into the narrow corridor of the ‘Government-General’ of 193945—and also without the eastern territories from which millions of Poles have had to cross over since 1945 into the ‘Potsdam western territories.’ Where else were they to go at that time, when the area of the ‘Government-General’ together with the capital, Warsaw, lay in rubble and ruins?”10 To argue that “our existence” was “at stake” sounds like desperation on the part of the Polish bishops, yet their presentation was so pragmatic that it even met with approbation in some of the German responses: “This is the factual reality, which we do not overlook after the loss of the Polish eastern territories.”11 Contrary, then, to the claims of Polish official propaganda, by standing firm on moral rather than political-legal grounds, the Polish bishops seemed to have gained the upper hand on the question of the western territories.12 Objective aggressors (Germans) and victims (Poles) shared memory of World War II as a catastrophically traumatic episode, yet the inability to agree on a shared narrative prevented reconciliation.13 Disagreement over the past went hand in hand with a disputed present: “What is at stake for us is our existence.” History, while unarguably relevant to the matter at hand, was so primarily because both parties had experienced it: Poles and Germans shared the wartime past. Of course, they experienced the war from opposite sides, and the Germans had been the aggressors, yet the traumatic memory of rubble, ruins, death of loved ones, and having nowhere to go constituted a common frame of reference for those left alive on either side. The Polish bishops attempted

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to establish a shared language for institutional reconciliation with representatives of their former aggressor by invoking the traumatic realities of that aggression. Although the logic of this position may seem paradoxical, empirically it is quite common: association of trauma conditioned on dissociation from blame is the basis for initiation of dialogue in spheres ranging from psychotherapy to litigation and negotiated settlement.14 The deeper question here is to what extent the Polish bishops managed to channel this “aggressor-victim” memory away from national and institutional politics into a vision of forgiveness and reconciliation. In other words, did the letter mark a qualitative shift from a pathology of blame instrumentalized for political ends to an ethics capable of facilitating a shared future? Such a shift entailed an ethics that was not only principled in the spirit of Vatican II but also the most practical way to a shared future of peace between nations. For the historian to attribute an ethics of reconciliation to the letter, such an ethics would have to have been articulated in the text so as to be intelligible to the letter’s recipients. I reproduce, then, this paragraph, which immediately follows the conclusion of the narrative of past trauma: “Despite everything, despite this situation that is almost hopelessly burdened with the past, we call on you, highly esteemed brothers, to come out and away from precisely that situation: let us try to forget! No polemics, no more Cold War, but rather the beginning of a dialogue, such as that which the Council and Pope Paul VI are seeking to foster everywhere.”15 The remarkable feature of this passage is the call to forget, the implication of a clean break with the past that could facilitate “the beginning of a dialogue.” But doesn’t forgetfulness imply denial, repression, or even falsification? How could the bishops have thereby aimed to build a new ethics in the spirit of the Second Vatican Council?

The Ethics Answering these questions requires close hermeneutic attention to the genealogy of forgiveness and forgetfulness in the Christian tradition. The Gospels and the Pauline epistles establish a clear causal link between forgiveness, love (caritas, translated as “charity” in the King James Bible), and confession or repentance (formalized in the Roman Catholic Church as the sacrament of penance16). The evangelist Luke, cited in one of the opening quotes of this paper, recorded Jesus’ exhortation to forgive one’s brother if he repents after having done wrong. This principle is so foundational that followers of Christ must adhere to it without exception, such that, for example, “Even if he wrongs you seven times in a day and comes back to you seven times saying, ‘I am sorry,’ you are to forgive him.” Forgiveness follows from love, for, as Luke wrote, “If you love only those who love you, what credit is that to you . . . you must love your enemies and do good” (6:32-35). Acts of penance and forgiveness are thus crucial constitutive elements of an ethics built on love. Given Paul’s declaration in 1 Corinthians that “love” is the greatest and closest

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to God of all human actions, an ethics of love must be the supreme ethics for all denominations of Christian faith.17 It is a cornerstone of Roman Catholic doctrine that the Gospels teach human beings the imperative of penance and forgiveness, yet the evangelical texts alone are insufficient to explain why the bishops’ letter seems to suggest that to forget is a precondition of forgiveness and reconciliation.18 Did the Polish bishops confuse an ethics of love with a politics of amnesty and amnesia? In the official documents of the Second Vatican Council—specifically, the pastoral constitution Gaudium et Spes and the dogmatic constitution Lumen Gentium— we find at least a partial response. Article 40 of Lumen Gentium reiterated that penance is a precondition for forgiveness, while article 28 of Gaudium et Spes articulated an ethics of love that differentiates between juridical (or political) and ethical forgiveness: “But it is necessary to distinguish between error, which always merits repudiation, and the person in error, who never loses the dignity of being a person even when he is flawed by false or inadequate religious notions. God alone is the judge and searcher of hearts, for that reason He forbids us to make judgments about the internal guilt of anyone.” By reserving to God exclusive jurisdiction over “internal guilt,” the pastoral constitution called upon Catholics to practice an ethics of unconditional forgiveness even as civic politics and criminal justice continue to mete out punishment, as they must in order to maintain order in human society.19 Nonetheless, the exhortation in Gaudium et Spes to amnesty “of hearts” seems to leave Catholics with no answer to a fundamental problem: juridical guilt aside, how is one to forgive when one remembers the other’s transgression? Indeed, the Polish bishops’ letter’s very suggestion that the ability to forget is a precursor to reconciliation implies that the mechanism missing from the Vatican II constitutions can be found in Christian conceptions of memory. John W. O’Malley has demonstrated the centrality of patristics for both the theology and the “style of discourse” of Vatican II: bishops and theologians attending the Second Vatican Council were especially attentive to Augustinian thought.20 Book X of the Confessions of St. Augustine offered the formative Christian reflections on memory as well as oblivio, a word encompassing both the state of “forgetfulness” (connoting passivity) and the process of “forgetting” (connoting activity). Augustine himself acknowledged that his reflections on oblivio were aporic: “I am certain that I remember [oblivio], even though [oblivio] obliterates all that we remember,” and, “For we do not entirely forget what we remember that we have forgotten. If we had completely forgotten it, we should not be able to look for what was lost.”21 Augustine’s admissions of aporia were not, however, an expression of fatalism, but rather a suggestion that comprehending the ethical significance of oblivio follows from deeper meditation on the nature of God. In Hannah Arendt’s interpretation of Augustine, oblivio becomes the enabling condition of caritas, understood as the essential mode of passage from mortal life into divine eternity. According to Arendt, when Augustine wrote, “God must be loved in such a way that, if at all possible, we

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would forget ourselves,”22 Augustine was describing a process by which man “loses the human mode of existence, which is mortality, while exchanging it for the divine mode of existence. . . . The transit is the forgetting.”23 In other words, to forget completely is to enter the biblical measure of time, kairos, the realm of eschatology.24 The significance of oblivio is not, however, purely eschatological. The original Latin term appears in translation as both “forgetfulness” and “forgetting,” often without closer examination of the semantic distinctions.25 This inconsistency in terms is partly due to grammatical differences between languages; however, what distinguishes “forgetfulness” from “forgetting” is as much a theological-philosophical question as a grammatical one. Augustine’s views continued to evolve after he wrote the Confessions, but he remained a firm believer in the determination of all thoughts and non-thoughts by Divine Providence, which endowed memory and oblivio alike with “constant, latent energies.”26 To claim that “forgetfulness” is passive while “forgetting” is active is, therefore, a false opposition. Rather, the former expresses the full phenomenological significance of oblivio as an experience in the world, while the latter, as Arendt observed, attends primarily to eschatological questions of the transit from the human to the divine. The accent in “forgetfulness” on the experience of being-in-the-world necessitates the development of an ethics in mortal time: forgetfulness thus conditions any ethics of reconciliation and caritas. Although his work postdated the Polish bishops’ letter, Paul Ricoeur suggested answers to the problems of forgiveness and forgetfulness that help to reveal the ethical breakthrough in the Polish bishops’ letter. Indeed, John Paul II in Memory and Identity cited Ricoeur’s explanations as a key source for his own understanding of “remembering and forgetting.”27 Ricoeur referred to the 403 BC amnesty of Athens following the Peloponnesian War, as described by Aristotle: amnesty could be declared only when all citizens of the new democracy jointly renounced their past divisions and armed conflict with the oath, “I shall not recall the evils,” under pain of maledictions.28 According to Ricoeur, the example shows that amnesty, “the institutionalized form of forgetting,” can only produce a “caricature of forgiveness.”29 Ricoeur cited a definition from Arendt’s Human Condition of forgiveness as the “unbinding” of the condemned act from the guilty person—a formulation akin to that of Gaudium et Spes—yet he solved the dilemma of separating criminal or political guilt from amnesty “of hearts” by modifying Arendt’s definition.30 The “act of faith” in forgiveness lies not in ignoring agency, but in separating the agent into two subjects: “a first subject, the one who committed the wrong, and a second subject, the one who is punished.”31 One forgives the first while leaving the fate of the second to God’s grace. “True” forgiveness is possible only in caritas, which in turn is possible only in God, just as “true” forgetfulness leads to God. Political and criminal judgments, defined by a punitive logic, are an inevitable fact of being–in–the–world, and attempts to curb that punitive logic in a juridical context—especially in cases of such immense crimes as those committed by the Nazis during World War II—“would be a grave injustice committed at the expense of the law and, even more so, of the victims.”32 An

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ethics grounded in caritas provides a set of principles for individuals who, allowing the juridical system to function as it must, learn to approach each other for forgiveness. Paradoxically, however, there is an asymmetry inhibiting “true” forgiveness, for forgiveness must be unconditional, while the request for forgiveness is inherently conditional. The “unbinding” described by Arendt and Ricoeur is complete only in God, toward whom forgetfulness constitutes a “horizon” for forgiveness. Is it possible, then, to forgive? Having called into question Arendt’s formula for forgiveness—Ricoeur never acknowledged that Gaudium et Spes articulated virtually the same imperative—Ricoeur left forgiveness “up to the recipients of the historical text.”33 And yet the case of the Polish bishops’ letter demonstrates the political instrumentality that tends to contramand the historical text. The letter, however, is far more imaginative, going beyond Gaudium et Spes and beyond what Ricoeur would write decades later. Its final sentence—“We stretch our arms out to you who sit here on the benches at the closing session of the Vatican Council, our arms, and we grant forgiveness as well as ask for it”34—breaks the asymmetry of forgiveness by resolving into one subject both the author of the request for forgiveness and the forgiver. Given present documentation, there is no way to tell whether or not Kominek was thinking along these lines when preparing the letter’s text,35 but the simultaneity of these two speech acts— articulated in one phrase—suggests an unprecedented attempt at symmetry whose philosophical sophistication goes beyond the constitutions of the Second Vatican Council. Yet there remains the question of forgetfulness. The text of the letter, which betrays a detailed memory of past wrongs, suggests that the Polish bishops themselves had not forgotten, and the very phrase—“Let us try to forget”—by which they called for mutual forgetfulness seems to mask a different message. The verb try suggests a recognition that the attempt will fail, as well as an up-front dismissal of utopian conceptions of amnesia-amnesty along Athenian lines. Moreover, we know from Augustine—indeed, from the word “forgetfulness” itself—that the formulation “try to forget” is an aporia because forgetting as a subject-driven action tends toward the eschatological rather than the ethical.36 The resolution of this aporia lies in the ethical space created by the phenomenology of forgetfulness, that is, its necessary condition of being-in-the-world.37 An Augustinian understanding of oblivio is discernable in the letter’s exhortation to forget in order both to be more like God—i.e., to prioritize caritas—and to be closer to God. Kominek may have been thinking along prophetic rather than consciously Augustinian lines, but the revival of patristic theology at the Second Vatican Council certainly shaped the ethics proposed in the Polish bishops’ letter, written, after all, at the Council. In the letter’s ethics of oblivio, to forget is not to lie but rather to construct a new, post-traumatic world in which neither aggressor nor victim would retain that status any longer.38 The letter, in other words, proposed an ethics of reconciliation as an intermediary ground between memory and kairos. Despite the radical39 potential of forgiveness presented in the Polish bishops’ letter—transcending Gaudium et Spes while allowing the bishops to draw on both

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ethics and eschatology—the influence of the political was evident throughout the letter’s text, and politics dominated the letter’s reception. The very circumstances under which the bishops sent the letter were, paradoxically, political: although the point of departure for the letter was the Second Vatican Council, a moment of new life for the Catholic Church, the letter focused on the millennial anniversary of the Polish Church, a celebration of history and tradition. And yet, this apparent contradiction in fact echoed the state of the Polish Church at the time. The Church faced a contradiction between aggiornamento, the Vatican Council’s demand that the Church “in the modern world” forge a new identity, and the urge to draw a national identity from memories of the past in order to struggle against the “socialist” identity imposed on Poland by the PUWP and the Soviet Union. As the 4 December 1965 Die Welt observed, “The Polish bishops do not name this power [the Soviet Union], but they point to it indirectly when they call attention to the loss of the Polish eastern territories and the millions of Polish refugees and expellees.”40 The Polish bishops functioned in a world of reality and paradox that seemed reducible to a political duality: a Polish-Catholic identity to counter an externally imposed socialist identity. The Polish bishops were thus balancing an ethics of reconciliation and an ethics of struggle: the spiritual reconciliation with Germany was to aid in the political struggle against the Soviet aggressor. For this reason, to forget completely—whether possible or not—was never even desirable.41 To read the Polish bishops’ letter of 1965 in light of Vatican II, the subsequent millennial celebrations, and above all the anti-Soviet ferment that rose to the surface in Poland in 1968, 1970, 1976, and ultimately 1980 is to show that the letter—despite its remarkable status as a philosophical and theological document—also became an episode in the Polish political narrative.

The Reception The Polish bishops utilized historical memory to peg the future of the Polish Catholic Church at least partially to an ethics of reconciliation with West Germany. But how was their message received? The German press reacted sooner than the German bishops’ conference, but it was the bishops’ response that commanded the most attention. Despite its enthusiastic beginning—“It is with deep emotion and joy that we have received your missive”—the letter’s language is best described as guarded. The German bishops attributed the spirit of the Poles’ message not to the Poles themselves but rather to “our common work in the Council.”42 The bishops referred to “the injustice and the pain that the Polish people have had to bear during the course of history,” but the reply contained no clear admission of agency, and passive voice dominated the letter at crucial points. The bishops wrote, “Terrible things have been done to the Polish people by Germans and in the name of the German people. We know that we must bear the

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consequences of the war, consequences that for our land, are harsh.”43 Even this guarded, limited recognition of culpability includes an unmistakable reference to German suffering: the point of departure for the German letter was not the Poles’ recognition of trauma as a shared memory but rather victimhood itself as a shared identity. Following the Polish bishops, the Germans “too beg you to forget; yes, we ask you to forgive.”44 The structure of the German letter seems to have paralleled the structure of the Polish letter: a brief historical narrative led to a call for reconciliation through forgetfulness, and the sentence, “To present a bill for guilt and injustice . . . will certainly not help us,” marked the letter’s ethical high point. Yet unlike the Polish bishops, the Germans then returned to history and tradition, focusing on the sensitive issue of the western lands: “When these Germans speak of ‘right to a home’ they—aside from a few exceptions—have no aggressive intention. Our Silesians, Pomeranians and East Prussians are trying to say that they lived rightfully in their own homeland and that they retain their tie to this home. At the same time they are aware that now a new generation is growing there, of people who also consider this territory—to which their fathers were sent—as home.” The last sentence attempted to guide the discussion away from history, yet the past returned through the word “fathers.” Whereas the Poles’ message regarding the western lands was their importance to the continued existence of Poland in the present and future, the Germans’ underlying message remained unclear. Indeed, juxtaposed with their grand exhortation to forget, the German bishops’ laudatory tone in describing “right to a home” claims as a symbolic or emotional “tie” appears either unpardonably naïve or defensively apologetic. Nation-state politics thus colored the German reply far more distinctly than the Polish text: “This Christian spirit will contribute, therefore, to the reaching of a solution to all the unhappy consequences of the war, a solution satisfactory and fair to all sides.” The Polish letter called for Germans to go beyond pastoral communication to action, but this German sentence obscured the course of action to be taken. “A solution satisfactory and fair”—what was fairness in this context? On what was it to be based, and who was to adjudicate it? Moreover, a determination of what was “satisfactory and fair” would have been a priori at odds with the Polish bishops’ ethics of reconciliation, which the Germans claimed to accept. How could a new, “just” solution have been attained but by breaking the Polish letter’s symmetry of forgiveness, channeling past wrongs, and articulating the very “bill for guilt and injustice” that the Germans had earlier renounced? The Germans’ ambiguous advocacy regarding the crucial western lands question was therefore incompatible with forgetfulness. As eagerly as the German bishops accepted the invitation to the Polish Church’s millennial celebrations in Czestochowa, as enthusiastically as they laced their reply with invocations of “brotherhood” and “forgiveness,” as a response to the ground-breaking ethical program proposed by the Polish bishops, the German letter was at best tepid and ambivalent. This ambivalence, understandably, proved tremendously disappointing to the Polish bishops. Jerzy Zawieyski, Wiesław Chrzanowski, and other prominent Polish Catholic intellectuals of the time recalled that primate Stefan Cardinal Wyszyn´ ski

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“seemed very disturbed” in the months following the German reply. He apparently took offense easily and lost the composure with which he generally carried himself in conversation.45 Wyszyn´ski later wrote to Julius Cardinal Döpfner, German primate at the time of the letter’s transmission by the Polish bishops, “the German Episcopate’s answer to our letter of reconciliation (of 1965) disenchanted not only Poles, but also public opinion worldwide.”46 The German response was particularly disheartening because it seemed to reverse recent progress in German Catholic receptivity to reconciliation with Poles. Döpfner had given a sermon in October 1960 as bishop of Berlin calling on Germans to make “sacrifices,” arguing that the “community of nations and states” was more important to the future than “the border question.”47 Döpfner and Wyszyn´ski had met and had productive conversations in Rome even before the convocation of the Second Vatican Council, at which they worked in the same Secretariat for Extraordinary Affairs of the Council. In 1963, the Polish and German Episcopates had jointly applied to the Vatican for the beatification of Maksymilian Kolbe, a Polish martyr who perished at Auschwitz. Given all of this apparent progress on both personal and ecclesiastical levels in the first half of the 1960s, Döpfner’s failure to spearhead a more enthusiastic reaction by the German bishops not only disappointed the Poles but in fact appeared to represent a retrogression.48 Kominek expressed his unhappiness with the German response much more directly than Wyszyn´ski. We should pay particular attention to the language of his public comment, for it makes a telling postscript to the discussion of forgiveness and caritas. In a January 1966 interview for German television, Kominek stated, “Forgiveness and apologies apply only to those ready to do penance, who in fact admit guilt. Where there is no confession of guilt, there is also no forgiveness.”49 Let us return for a moment to the asymmetry of forgiveness described by Ricoeur: in the Polish bishops’ letter, Kominek resolved that asymmetry, at once forgiving and asking for forgiveness, demonstrating caritas and doing penance. As he understood their subsequent response, however, the German bishops had done neither: for this reason, Kominek lost faith in the vision of Polish-German reconciliation that he had promulgated in the letter, based on forgiveness and forgetfulness in the chronos, rather than the kairos. In the interview, Kominek did not disavow the philosophical paradigm of reconciliation articulated in the letter, but he expressed a certain fatalism that Polish-German relations would henceforth be bound by the political rather than the ethical. Despite the best efforts of Catholic laity on both sides (and ecumenical efforts on the German side), the fatalism proved prescient.50 Indeed, the German press at times seemed more appreciative of the Polish bishops’ action than the German bishops had been. Die Welt acknowledged the Polish control of the western lands as “the factual reality, which we do not overlook,”51 and Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung claimed that “the message of reconciliation can no more disappear from this world.”52 At the same time, however, elements of the Polish bishops’ historical narrative provoked offense. The very Die Welt piece that complement

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Polish treatment of the western lands issue also declared the narrative “a line which the German people cannot accept, since it would unjustly bedevil their own history. This shows how broad the chasm between the two peoples still is, and how far we are from building a bridge.”53 Other commentaries revealed an overt anti-Polish bias: according to the Berliner Morgenpost, “it is to the credit of the Polish bishops that they have gone beyond themselves.”54 Finally, some German media portrayed the Germans as the facilitators of Polish-German dialogue: the same Berlin Morgenpost printed, “one may hope that the brotherly word of the German bishops may perhaps find a response among the Polish people: the readiness of the German people for a reconciliation with their Polish neighbors.” Meanwhile, the Polish government learned of the Polish bishops’ letter’s contents only after the German bishops had already received the letter.55 Indeed, the PUWP and the Polish government were forming a strategy to respond to the letter just as the German bishops published their response and the German media began commenting on the exchange. Therefore, the German responses necessarily colored the Polish establishment’s reaction to the original Polish letter. This reaction amounted to a declaration of war on the Episcopate. First Secretary Władysław Gomułka announced a campaign celebrating the millennium of the Polish state in 1966, which would compete with the Church’s millennial celebrations. This was a heavy blow to Wyszyn´ ski, as became apparent in the tone of his 12 March 1966 letter to Gomułka, in which Wyszyn´ ski decried the official Polish press campaigns against the Episcopate—“Of what have I not been accused?”—before proceeding to insist that Church and State not only could but indeed must work together.56 Rather than heed Wyszyn´ski’s call, however, the PUWP’s Central Committee Politburo “ordered a propaganda campaign pointing to the false interpretation of the facts contained in the letter as well as the political harm done by the Episcopate. Toward this end, appropriate articles should be published in the press, . . . letters prepared to party organizations, materials prepared for Central Committee members, etc.”57 Public communiqués by the government followed the Politburo decision. On 10 . December 1965, the daily newspaper Z ycie Warszawy published a detailed catalogue of objections to the Polish bishops’ letter: (1) the bishops had overstepped their authority by broaching political and legal issues;58 (2) there was nothing for which the Polish people needed to ask Germans’ forgiveness; (3) the letter had failed to assert Poland’s “fundamental rights” to the western lands;59 and (4) the bishops had ignored the GDR. I might add a fifth objection that underlies the previous four, which boils down to moral indignation: how dared the Polish bishops treat as moral equals descendents of Hitler’s nation, among whom were “German church representatives who stood by the brownshirts during the Hitler time and who blessed the Hitlerian forces marching against .Poland.”60 However, the full force of the Zycie Warszawy critique emerged only in its analysis of the German bishops’ response, German public discussion, and the brief note of reply sent by the Roman delegation of Polish bishops to the FRG on 7 December

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1965. The Z ycie text noted sardonically, “One must concede that the German bishops remembered their duty towards the Bonn Government and the . expellees better than the Polish bishops remembered Polish state interests.”61 The Z ycie text went on to observe that the German bishops’ response to the western lands issue suggests that “another solution must be sought, with its result a revision of the present status.”62 The . Z ycie text attacked as dangerously naïve the Polish bishops’ ethics, caricaturing the German response to suggest the damage done by the Polish bishops: “Forgiveness? Reconciliation? But of course, we shall gladly forgive the Poles and make up with them . . . on the basis of a revision of .the borders and restitution to Germans to whom injustice was done.” And finally Z ycie Warszawy suggested that the bishops had been at odds with the general will of the Polish people: “In whose name do the bishops come forward with an attitude that contradicts the opinion of the entire pop63 ulation and . the national interest?” The Z ycie text was only one among many such texts published in official Polish print media, though perhaps the most comprehensive, and notable also as an immediate response. Of all the accusations lodged against the Polish Episcopate, that of having contradicted “the entire population and the national interest” was perhaps most damaging. Archbishop Kominek of Wrocław was from the western lands, deeply familiar with German culture and traditions, and intimately concerned with the ecclesiastical and juridical fate of those territories. To suggest that the letter betrayed the nation was to suggest that the Episcopate had sold out to Germany: it was an attempt to drive a wedge between Kominek and the rest of the Episcopate (especially Primate Wyszyn´ski) and also to undermine the legitimacy of the Polish Church.64 The extent to which the PUWP propaganda succeeded in riling Wyszyn´ ski and the rest of the Episcopate was visible in the tenor of the primate’s correspondence as well as his perturbed demeanor, as reported by Zawieyski and his other visitors in the months following the exchange of letters. What really mattered to the Episcopate at the time, however, was the response of the Polish nation. Antoni Dudek has reconstructed Confessional Affairs Ministry reports from interviews conducted by functionaries at the local and regional level with clergy in January and February 1966: although only five of the 51 Polish bishops distanced themselves even slightly from the letter, over 50 percent of parish pastors opposed the letter.65 Allowing for intimidation and selective presentation or inflated statistics in the documentation, the reports suggest significant grassroots opposition within the Polish Church to the ethics of reconciliation proposed by the bishops. Wyszyn´ski himself observed in a February 1966 sermon, “young priests who, perhaps out of curiosity, read more of all sorts of political statements, to some degree, here and there have succumbed to this argumentation and at times have even taken a separate position [from the Polish Church as a whole].”66 Again and again, respondents in the interviews compiled by the Confessional Affairs Ministry cited that one crucial phrase—“we grant forgiveness as well as ask for it”—as a compromising, even unpatriotic action. As Władysław Bartoszewski has suggested, “The Polish bishops’ letter

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decidedly reached above the contemporary average state of social awareness and moral maturity of Polish Catholics. The German bishops’ response corresponded in some sense to the level of moral maturity of German Catholics.”67 With the enthusiastic support of local PUWP organs, protests sprang up throughout Poland in December 1965 decrying the “behavior unbecoming of Polish citizens” represented by the bishops’ letter. This phrase comes from a letter addressed to Archbishop Karol Wojtyła of Kraków by the workers of the Solvay factory, in which Wojtyła had himself labored during the Nazi occupation of Poland. The workers pre. sented largely the same complaints as the Z ycie Warszawy text: the illegitimacy of the bishops’ claim to initiate dialogue with West Germans and the outrageous nature of the notion that Poles need to be forgiven by Germans. The letter concluded, “We categorically protest against the points of view and actions presented by part of the Polish Episcopate in their letter to the German bishops.” What can the Solvay letter tell us about the reception of the bishops’ letter by the Polish working masses? Adam Michnik captures the lesson of their letter succinctly: “these are the guardians of the memory of suffering who take action against those who do not want to remember that suffering; that those guardians of memory stubbornly defend Poland’s image as an innocent victim against those who want to ask forgiveness of the ‘successors’ of German fascism.”68 Although doubtless ghostwritten by the provincial PUWP committee, the letter harnessed genuine popular fear and resentment. Amidst a flood of propaganda unleashed by the PUWP apparatus, with the Polish Episcopate reluctant to add fuel to the fire by publishing the full original text of their letter, it was difficult for workers, farmers, and other social groups not to express dismay at the injustice that the bishops were apparently perpetrating against Polish national memory. To forget all-too-recent suffering was, . in the minds of those of good faith reading reports of the bishops’ letter in Z ycie Warszawy and other official sources, to dishonor the memory of the dead and to capitulate in a symbolic struggle almost as vigorous in 1965 as it had been in 1945. Michnik’s description of the “guardians of the memory of suffering” has deep historical roots in Poland, tied to the proverbial martyrology linked to Adam Mickiewicz’s “Christ of Nations” metaphor for Poland, the image of Tadeusz Rejtan baring his breast before his fellow delegates to the Polish Sejm, and many other references from the Polish collective memory. To understand the masses’ response to the letter—and the tropes used by the party apparatus to reinforce that response—is to understand the truly radical nature of the Polish bishops’ letter. In this sense, the letter may indeed have been un-Polish, if to be “Polish” is to give priority to the past. The Polish bishops sought to move beyond past suffering; they aimed not to weaken Polish national identity but to strengthen it by consolidating resources. Why continue to fight a war that has been over for 20 years when another, ongoing struggle requires attention? “Try[ing] to forget” was to serve the purpose of neither anarchy nor capitulation; indeed there was a calculated national interest at stake. But there was also much more: as Wojtyła wrote in his response to the Solvay workers, the

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essence of reconciliation is “respect for the human person and his conscience.” The Polish bishops’ letter of 1965 struck a delicate balance between national interest and a universal appeal to caritas. Paradoxically, the Polish Church itself contributed to the triumph of the national interest in a popular imagination captured by the Polish ecclesiastical millennium, without the appeal to universal good and therefore more in the spirit of the PUWP. During the months of darkness and struggle with official propaganda that followed the disappointing exchange of letters, the Episcopate continued preparations for the nationwide celebration of the millennial anniversary of Polish Christianity. Although the Polish government prepared its own millennial celebrations and refused visas to all foreign guests invited by Wyszyn´ ski—including Pope Paul VI—the Polish primate carried out the planned Great Novena. A copy of the icon of the Virgin Mary of Czestochowa completed a peregrination around Poland—in spite of threats and attacks by agents provocateurs—and clashes between crowds of faithful and crowds of anticlerical protesters only minimally marred the celebration. Yet the 1966 ceremonies exemplified the same national martyrology that Wojtyła had rejected in the Solvay letter. As Andrzej Friszke describes them, they were “celebrations accenting the Marian cult, identifying Polishness with Catholicism, raising Primate Wyszyn´ski to the level of national father and leader.”69 In spite of the Polish bishops’ radical attempt at re-channeling Polish-German historical memory, the disappointing German response and the flood of demoralizing propaganda led the Polish Episcopate itself to move away from the ethics of reconciliation.

The Catholic Intellectuals At the same time, however, the Polish Catholic intellectuals increasingly embraced that ethics.70 These intellectuals became the primary agents and safekeepers of the re-channeling of historical memory, culminating in the elevation of their closely affiliated bishop Karol Wojtyła to the papacy and in the emergence of the Solidarity movement. Given their central place in the narrative of the transformation of post–World War II historical memory in Poland, these intellectuals require a proper introduction. Prior to 1956, the only Catholic activists to receive passports for travel outside Poland were members of the PAX group, “progressivist” intellectuals officially aligned with the PUWP, whom the Party had granted several seats in Parliament.71 Indeed, between 1953 and 1956, PAX had a monopoly over legal lay organizations in Poland: even the weekly Tygodnik Powszechny, established in March 1945, was co-opted as a PAX organ after its editorial staff refused to print a laudatory obituary for Stalin.72 When, in the summer of 1956, Gomułka commenced his meteoric return to power, a circle of pre-war Catholic intellectuals and young disaffected members of PAX coalesced around the poet Jerzy Zawieyski, and Zawieyski negotiated with

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Gomułka after the latter’s installation as First Secretary the establishment of the “ZNAK” Catholic movement. This movement initially included the weekly Tygodnik Powszechny (reclaimed from PAX by the new First Secretary), the monthly Znak (reactivated after a three-year hiatus), and a network of five “Catholic Intelligentsia Clubs” (hereafter CIC) in major Polish cities.73 Beginning in 1956, ZNAK received permission to send delegations of varying sizes—initially 15 to 20 people, each subject to review by the Ministry of the Interior prior to issuance of passports—on trips to Western Europe and beyond.74 Officially, Gomułka was giving ZNAK (along with PAX, which continued to receive concessions for travel despite its opposition to Gomułka’s rise to power) the opportunity to show international gatherings of Catholics that Poland, far from being a repressive state, permitted the flowering of a worldly intelligentsia. However, the ZNAK intellectuals also made innumerable contacts that would endure for decades; they became contributing and even governing members of international organizations. Most importantly, they experienced life outside Poland. In 1957 and 1958, CIC members aged 20 to 30 journeyed to the island of Port-Cros in the Mediterranean to join the young Parisian elite of the Conférence Olivaint, shepherded by Robert Schuman and other Christian politicians and social leaders.75 Subsequently, ZNAK representatives visited with the editorial staffs of Esprit and La Revue Nouvelle; they cultivated the acquaintance of Florentine mayor Giorgio La Pira. By 1970, the movement’s stature had risen such that it had provided the Secretary General of the 1967 World Congress of Lay Apostles and both a Secretary General and Vice President of the international Catholic theological conference Pax Romana. Over the three years of the Second Vatican Council, there were always 5 to 10 ZNAK members in the Vatican. Overall, between 1958 and 1966, the ZNAK group sent over 350 representatives abroad.76 By 1965, Polish Catholic intellectuals were thus well-established members of evolving transnational Catholic networks. As officials in the Ministry of the Interior wrote in 1968 in their Annual Internal Report on the activities of Catholic associations, “Representatives of the Catholic Intelligentsia Clubs have penetrated circles on almost every continent.”77 However, Germany remained problematic as a destination because it was divided and because Poland had no formal relations with the western republic. Since the late 1950s, a handful of Polish intellectuals had attempted to develop working relationships with German counterparts: these were Stanisław Stomma, a legal scholar and chief of the ZNAK parliamentary group;78 Tadeusz Mazowiecki, editorin-chief of the monthly Wiez´ and ZNAK Member of Parliament beginning in 1961;79 Jerzy Turowicz, editor-in-chief of Tygodnik Powszechny, the cultural heart of the ZNAK network;80 and Mieczysław Pszon, a member of Tygodnik Powszechny’s editorial staff who became the all-purpose point of contact for German Catholics in Poland and Polish Catholics going to Germany.81 Since Poland did not recognize the FRG, the GDR was a natural starting point. However, selecting working partners was a risky business, as ZNAK did not want to

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find itself dealing with Stasi fronts or “progressivist” groups controlled by the East German regime. By the early 1960s, Stomma and Turowicz had established a working relationship with the leadership of Aktion Sühnezeichen, a movement active primarily in the GDR. Established by Lothar Kreyssig—a Protestant lawyer who had openly challenged Nazi legal standards both as a civilian and as a Wehrmacht conscript—in 1958 following a German Evangelical Church synod, the Aktion’s purpose was atonement for the Shoah. Its members built memorials to the victims and cared for Jewish cemeteries in European countries, among many other activities, while also sending representatives to Israel on goodwill missions.82 In 1965, the Aktion organized a pilgrimage of penance to Auschwitz and Majdanek, an event that received wide coverage in German press. A recently appointed editor at Tygodnik Powszechny named Władysław Bartoszewski developed a passion for work with the Aktion. Although, according to his own testimony, he tended to stay on the margins of the ZNAK movement, Bartoszewski became the Aktion’s chief liaison in Poland.83 For a formerly imprisoned wartime resistance hero rehabilitated only during de-Stalinization, he received unprecedented travel permissions, and in 1963 he began his journeys abroad by traveling to Israel, subsequently to Austria and the GDR. Into the 1970s, he remained a pivotal figure in Catholic attempts to improve Polish-German relations.84 By 1965, there had thus emerged a core group of Polish Catholic intellectuals versed in German issues. They regularly published articles on Germany in Tygodnik Powszechny, maintained correspondence with the few Germans whom their censored letters could reach, and counterbalanced the strong French-Italian orientation in the Polish Catholic intelligentsia. Even before the Polish bishops’ letter to the German Episcopate, 1965 proved to be a year of great tests for the ZNAK group with respect to Germany. Following a 23 June pastoral letter promulgated by the whole Episcopate, Archbishop Kominek in September organized ceremonies and symposia in commemoration of the 20th anniversary of the Polish administration of the western lands.85 Predictably, West German press lambasted the event. However, the West German Evangelical Church (EKD) in October published its Vertriebenendenkschrift, an “Essay on Refugees,” in which it affirmed Poland’s right to the western lands and moved for reconciliation of Poland and West Germany over the issue. This letter, which flew in the face of the Polish establishment’s presentation of all West Germans as revanchist, capitalist fascists, received little attention in the Polish press, though it contributed to the Polish bishops’ decision to send the letter to the German bishops.86 The ZNAK parliamentary group, moreover, drew attention to the EKD letter. Its Members of Parliament had an unprecedented position as a group of Catholic intellectuals unaligned with the PUWP but with freedom of speech in Parliament. Jerzy Zawieyski in a 12 November speech connected the September celebrations with the October EKD letter. It is useful to highlight in this speech an ambivalence characteristic of the establishmentarian conventions that the ZNAK delegates felt pressured to adopt even as they presented relatively independent opinions. Although he lauded certain elements of West

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German civil society, thereby flouting the Polish establishment, Zawieyski at the same time appealed to that establishment by denouncing West German government policy and media coverage, declaring that ZNAK too was working to “counteract the stiff and blindto-the-facts policy of the Federal Republic of Germany.”87 Zawieyski adopted this convention to ensure that his audience would focus on his core message: “the entire nation sees the border on the Oder and Neisse as untouchable, the boundary of peace. The unanimity of the Church hierarchy and the entire nation was acclaimed by the entire world, with the exception only of West Germany.”88 Given this message, it is perhaps surprising that Zawieyski had no foreknowledge of the Polish bishops’ letter to the German bishops. However, multiple sources confirm that this was indeed the case. The ZNAK movement learned of the letter only from German media, and when Zawieyski and Stomma called on Wyszyn´ski to request permission to see a copy of the full text, the primate indignantly rebuffed them.89 Andrzej Friszke has called this Wyszyn´ ski’s greatest mistake in the entire sequence of events preceding and following the delivery of the Polish bishops’ letter.90 The decision was not, however, incomprehensible. Earlier the same year, Stomma had sent the Holy See a report on what he believed would be required to facilitate the normalization of diplomatic relations between the Vatican and the Polish People’s Republic. Stomma did this without first consulting Wyszyn´ ski, whom he perhaps sought to provoke to action. Instead, Stomma succeeded in provoking only Wyszyn´ski’s resentment; relations between the primate and the ZNAK group soured precisely at the moment when they would become pivotal. The cruel irony of Wyszyn´ski’s decision to keep Zawieyski and his fellow intellectuals in the dark is that the argument Zawieyski had advanced in Parliament on 12 November was precisely the argument needed by the Episcopate to rebut the propaganda attacks initiated in early December. The Polish government stirred a sense of looming danger: if the Polish bishops were allowed to have their way, the international community might swoop in and reclaim the western lands for Germany. Zawieyski, one week before the letter had even been penned, pointed to the clearheaded answer: yes, the West German refusal to recognize Polish sovereignty over the western lands was offensive, but it was largely symbolic. Although great danger might lay in a remilitarized, revanchist West Germany, the land claim would never start a war that, in any case, would first require the dismemberment of the GDR, which fully acknowledged and defended the Oder-Neisse border. The real danger, as Zawieyski later contended in a 14 December speech, lay in the prospect that the world might interpret “facts and polemics resulting from the letter as some sort of divide in Poland against the backdrop of our most significant issues, toward which the government and the Episcopate together with the entire nation have demonstrated for a full 20 years their solidarity.”91 Zawieyski painted a bit too rosy a picture, but in essence he was right: following the letter to the German bishops, the party undertook a campaign of provoking a split in the Polish nation where none had really existed. To object to asking the Germans’ forgiveness was one matter—indeed, Zawieyski

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personally had such qualms—but to act as though the Polish bishops had materially endangered Polish sovereignty was not only absurd but itself a possible endangerment of Poland’s place in the international arena. Zawieyski gave this speech without full knowledge of the contents of the letter, after Wyszyn´ski’s refusal to release it. However, Wyszyn´ ski reportedly took offense at the speech, finding it insufficiently supportive of the Polish bishops, for Zawieyski had lamented that “there had appeared in the letter phrases painfully received by Polish society.”92 Paradoxically, although Wyszyn´ski might have found optimal defenders in his nation’s Catholic intellectuals, the distrust he manifested in 1965 began a spiral of events that drove a wedge between the Episcopate and the Catholic intelligentsia. Zawieyski, Turowicz, Stomma, and their compatriots had found the Second Vatican Council profoundly transformative: what spirit of universal reconciliation they saw in the Polish bishops’ letter, they identified with the promise of a Polish aggiornamento.93 As Wyszyn´ski continued to manifest distrust toward the intelligentsia, however, and as the Episcopate under his leadership appeared to shift away from ethics of reconciliation toward Polish Catholic chauvinism, the intellectuals grew disaffected.94 This is not to suggest that they ceased to meet with Wyszyn´ski or that they failed to participate in the Great Novena; as Poles and as Catholics, they followed their bishop, and they celebrated the millennial anniversary of their Church. However, they felt that a window of opportunity had been missed, and this moved them to act increasingly on their own.95

The Consequences In the immediate aftermath of the Second Vatican Council, the Polish bishops’ letter illuminated a path to change open even to the more nationally minded among the intellectuals, who may have cringed at the request for forgiveness. The Second Vatican Council had re-channeled the historical memory of the entire Roman Catholic Church, giving the Church new horizons and a new identity “in the world” through aggiornamento, advocacy of religious freedom, and new pastoral and dogmatic constitutions. Likewise, the bishops’ letter attempted to light the way for a Polish nation stuck in the shadow of a towering Soviet hegemon, and it went beyond even Gaudium et Spes, Dignitatis Humanæ, and Nostra Ætate in its ethics of reconciliation. Polish Catholic intellectuals began to travel to West Germany already in the mid1960s following the installation of a West German diplomatic (trade) mission in Warsaw, eight years before Willy Brandt’s Ostpolitik yielded a juridical rapprochement.96 Already in 1962, Tygodnik Powszechny editor-in-chief Jerzy Turowicz was able to travel briefly to the FRG for a series of lectures, and on his return he was detained by officials of the Interior and Confessional Affairs Ministries, who demanded a full report on West German Christianity, including the Episcopate, lay

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intellectuals, and the ruling Christliche Demokratische Union (CDU) government.97 Turowicz criticized Christian Democratic chancellor Konrad Adenauer for “pragmatism and even opportunism,” and he declared that the FRG’s “Episcopate had not done its duty since the war by failing to make the German masses aware of Germany’s war guilt.” At the same time, however, Turowicz enraged his interrogating officials by insisting that “there is a milieu of Catholic intellectuals in the FRG that recognizes the Oder-Neisse border, whether because they recognize Germany’s guilt or because they believe it to be a fait accompli.” Even substantive disagreements with their West German counterparts did not prevent the Poles from repeated attempts at dialogue and discussion. On the very day that the Polish bishops wrote their letter, Stomma was in Düsseldorf participating in a radio broadcast with two West German Christian Democratic politicians. Indeed, Stomma was holding the line that Bonn should accept Polish western borders’ status quo, with the additional claim that Poland’s security as a sovereign nation benefited from having two German republics with which Poland could deal separately.98 Although Stomma did not convince his interlocutors of his position, he maintained contact with them afterward. As the Polish Ministry of Confessional Affairs acknowledged in a 1968 memorandum, Stomma’s “wide variety of public-speaking engagements on the territory of the FRG regarding the Polish position on the German border issue” made him a more recognized authority on this political matter than any representative of the PUWP or the governing coalition.99 Beginning in 1970, his contacts enabled regular exchanges between West German CDU politicians and Polish Catholic intellectuals. This, indeed, is how later Polish prime minister Tadeusz Mazowiecki met later West German president Richard von Weizsäcker. These political contacts subsequently proved useful both as the Solidarity movement was forming with leadership from Polish Catholic intellectuals (including Mazowiecki) and during the process of German reunification, when Mazowiecki held the office of prime minister.100 At the time, Stomma’s existing contacts enabled a smoother normalization of relations by adding a political valence to the international network of Catholic intellectuals in which the Poles participated.101 Such political activity was not limited to appeals advanced through the West German Catholic intelligentsia; Bartoszewski continued to lead in ZNAK’s contacts with the Aktion Sühnezeichen, and Stomma arranged for the participation of ZNAK representatives in a variety of peace conferences held in the GDR. In 1968, the Bensberger Kreis, a small movement of West German Catholic intellectuals, issued a memorandum signed by 160 intellectuals from across the FRG, including the young theology professor Joseph Ratzinger. According to Gottfried Erb, one of the founders of the Kreis, its members acted on the following rationale: “The signal sent to Poland by the German bishops is insufficient. We have to clarify that in the Catholic Church in Germany there are many people convinced that the Oder-Neisse border must be recognized as a final solution and that Poles living in the borderlands need no longer be afraid.”102 The Bensberger Kreis memorandum was the sort of enthusiastic call for

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Polish-German dialogue for which the Polish bishops had hoped in November 1965.103 Władysław Bartoszewski, whose first trip to the FRG in 1965 had brought him into contact with Eugen Kogon and Walter Dirks, the subsequent founders of the Bensberger Kreis organization,104 joined Stomma and Mazowiecki in praising this memorandum in the pages of Tygodnik Powszechny and Wiez´ .105 For at least two years after the memorandum’s publication, an exchange of correspondence was maintained between the Warsaw CIC and the Bensberger Kreis, resulting in numerous publications by Poles in West German journals and conversely by West Germans in Polish Catholic journals. From the archives of the Ministry of Confessional Affairs, it is clear that the government watched these contacts with great interest, walking the line between suspicion that the Polish intellectuals were committing treason and fascination with the progress made by this small handful of intellectual elites. Indeed, the Ministry’s file on the Bensberger Memorandum is thicker than almost any other surviving file pertinent to the ZNAK movement.106 Ultimately, the Polish state concluded diplomatic normalization with West Germany, in which ZNAK played no official role. After it publicly denounced Gomułka’s “antiZionist” campaign in 1968, the ZNAK movement fell into official disfavor, and although it retained its seats in Parliament, the death of Jerzy Zawieyski in 1969 marked the final stage of collapse of the bridge between ZNAK and the PUWP. Nonetheless, by November 1970, Stomma, Mazowiecki, Bartoszewski, and other ZNAK figures knew personally several of the CDU politicians involved in the Ostpolitik of Brandt’s Grand Coalition; they sent out personal notes of congratulations to these politicians, from whom they received enthusiastic replies. The first notes sent, however, were to the Bensberger Kreis, which, in the estimation of the ZNAK group at least, had done more than any other group in West Germany to facilitate normalization. Beginning in 1970, formal contact between groups became much easier. In 1964, Pszon, Turowicz, and others had made contact with the leadership of the West German branch of Pax Christi, an international peace movement functioning through national branch organizations, when the German branch came to Auschwitz on a pilgrimage of penance.107 In the 1970s, Turowicz traveled regularly to Pax Christi conferences.108 Bartoszewski became a personal favorite of Reinhold Lehmann, Pax Christi’s secretary-general, who journeyed to Poland in 1972 to plead personally with Polish authorities for Bartoszewski to be granted a passport to travel to West Germany.109 At this time, Bartoszewski grew in stature at the forefront of PolishGerman reconciliation. His correspondence with Jerzy Turowicz from 1970 to 1975 traces this evolution: in 1972, Turowicz had helped to organize the first Pax Christi seminar in Poland, held at Auschwitz, in which Bartoszewski had participated as a discussant. However, in 1973 and 1975, it was Bartoszewski who organized seminars for youth coming to Poland from the FRG, and his historical scholarship on the Nazi occupation of Poland was a central topic of discussion. In June 1975, Bartoszewski spent two weeks in West Germany shepherded by Lehmann through meetings with prominent Catholics: from Cardinal Döpfner, to

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Herwig Gückelhorn, editor-in-chief of the influential Rheinische Merkur. Bartoszewski copied Turowicz on the report that he was required to file with the Ministry of Confessional Affairs on his return from the FRG, and the report detailed 25 such meetings with prominent West Germans. His visit was covered by German media, which interpreted it as “a phenomenon attesting positively to the flexible policies of the Polish government.”110 Bartoszewski’s extensive contacts and positive reception were part of a rise in Catholic intellectual engagement in Polish-German relations. The Ministry of Confessional Affairs had observed this engagement already in 1962, when it had first attempted to limit the number of ZNAK representatives granted passports. Paradoxically, however, the more the Ministry sought to limit the Catholic intellectuals’ international activities, the more focused and consequential those activities became. ZNAK members went from attending youth seminars in France in 1958, to covering the Second Vatican Council in the mid-1960s, to initiating serious policy conversations with leading West German politicians in the late 1960s. Already in January 1966, the Ministry reported that “Catholic Intelligentsia Club representatives were behaving in a manner politically damaging to Polish state interests” in their international travels, and the Ministry declared its intention to clamp down on that behavior.111 Yet in December 1967, the Ministry reported that its attempts had backfired: indeed, the report’s authors now accorded to ZNAK the status of a “separate foreign policy” that “functioned in distinct contradiction with the warranted requirements of policies in this sphere mandated by the State.”112 Despite their limited numbers, the Catholic intellectuals seemed to be having a real impact from the inside, forging a “separate foreign policy” that, in the case of West Germany, presaged by several years the Polish state’s normalization of diplomatic relations.

Conclusions The Second Vatican Council provided unique circumstances for the Polish bishops to articulate a radical re-channeling of Polish-German historical memory through their letter to the German bishops. In turn, ZNAK, as a network of lay Catholic intellectuals, acted on and through that historical memory. Thus, the Second Vatican Council significantly reshaped the way that the Polish Catholic intellectuals conceived of themselves in their daily lives as Poles and Catholics. It makes sense that the Poles looked outside Poland even prior to 1965 for sources of inspiration. It is also unsurprising that Turowicz, despite his indictments of Adenauer and the German Episcopate, had positive things to say about West German Catholics in 1962. After all, what made the Polish Catholic intelligentsia a Catholic intelligentsia was its exposure and rooting in an international web of ecumenical Christian philosophy: Turowicz and Stomma were reading the French personalist Jacques Maritain 20 years before John XXIII recognized Maritain at the Second

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Vatican Council for his prescient promotion of neo-Thomist humanism, and the German Lutheran Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s writings on non-violence were formative for Mazowiecki and the younger generation in the ZNAK movement. The Second Vatican Council brought to life intellectual forces that for ZNAK prior to the Council had existed only on paper and in abstract conversation: beginning in 1965, the Catholic Church exhorted all Catholics to live in the spirit of Maritain and Bonhoeffer.113 The Polish bishops’ letter of November 1965 therefore held the promise of leading the Polish Church into its own post–Vatican II era. Imbued with a spirit of forgiveness that built imaginatively on the text of Gaudium et Spes, the letter seemed the fulfillment of the deepest hopes of the ZNAK movement. However, the political and ecclesiastical reality surrounding the text from the start contradicted its spirit. Reluctant to inform ZNAK of the letter, Cardinal Wyszyn´ski undercut the intellectuals’ ability to defend it, and the gap between the Episcopate and ZNAK only widened as the intellectuals perceived the developing millennial celebrations of 1966 as a retrogressive renunciation of the spirit of the Vatican Council. Wyszyn´ski accused ZNAK of disloyalty, and ZNAK members under their breath blamed the primate for keeping the Polish Church in a pre–Vatican II holding pattern. The intellectuals were Catholics, so they remained loyal to their Church, but their disappointment in the Church’s path exceeded even their disappointment in the German Episcopate’s reaction to the Polish bishops’ letter. The notable exception to this disappointment was Karol Wojtyła. As a member of the Episcopate, he deferred to Wyszyn´ ski’s judgment in international affairs, and he exercised tremendous moral authority in Kraków in local, regional, and national issues. However, he had been one of the loudest advocates of aggiornamento at the Vatican Council, and, when ZNAK representatives came to him with their cares, he listened and approved. With his guidance, members of the ZNAK group developed their own “separate foreign policy” independent of the Episcopate and independent of the State.114 The ZNAK Catholics’ disappointment in what followed, or what failed to follow, the promise of the letter’s text strengthened their conviction to live the dicta of the Vatican Council themselves. In regional affairs, the issue that consistently inhibited Poles from taking a united stand against the PUWP’s status as a Soviet puppet was the regime’s ability to instrumentalize memory of World War II and to use that memory to distract its citizens by channeling their resentment westward rather than eastward. In 1989, Tadeusz Mazowiecki became the first non-communist prime minister of Poland since World War II. The following year, his diplomatic efforts resulted in Poland’s inclusion in an international conference on German reunification that finally ended the state of war between Poland and the FRG, formalizing the OderNeisse border between a free Poland and a reunited Germany. Juridically, PolishGerman reconciliation had been achieved. Yet Polish-German memory of World War II continues to plague Polish (and German) political, intellectual, and ecclesiastical life. For example, Polish president Lech Kaczyn´ski at a July 2007 European Union

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summit publicly declared that, if not for Germany’s depletion of the Polish population during World War II, Poland would have more votes on the European Commission. Fears and legal claims over the western lands have been lodged in courts, and Erika Steinbach’s Center against Expulsions (Zentrum gegen Vertreibungen) is a household name in Poland carrying the worst connotations. Is this reconciliation? Diplomatic and institutional normalization may have finally taken place in the form of treaties and entry into the European Union, but ethical reconciliation continues to elude Poland and Germany, and its persistent elusiveness periodically reopens the same national-political wounds. In the spirit of forgiveness articulated in the constitutions of the Second Vatican Council, the Polish bishops’ letter offered an imaginative, enormously promising ethical prescription for these wounds, and it inspired Catholic intellectuals to action. Nonetheless, the presence of the political in the bishops’ letter and its overwhelming predominance in the letter’s reception undercut the actualization potential of the new ethics. As individuals and through lay organizations, Polish Catholic intellectuals developed deep personal connections with their German counterparts and achieved some measure of reconciliation, but, with respect to the nation-state, politics determined even the intellectuals’ actions, first as members of ZNAK, then in Solidarity, and finally as members of the post-1989 governing elite. Perhaps forgiveness and forgetfulness really do only exist as an eschatological horizon, a matter of kairos rather than chronos: if this is so, Polish-German memory of collective trauma will continue to plague both sides no matter what ethics the churches and the laity promulgate. Yet there is a crucial conclusion about the historical context to be drawn from the Polish bishops’ letter of 1965: the existence of the Iron Curtain manifested itself in domestic and international arenas as a force of division—even within the transnational, putatively universal Roman Catholic Church—that drove its subjects to cling to historically defined national identities. The letter’s ultimate failure casts the remarkable intellectual and political successes of both Polish and German laity in stark relief with the ethical failure to overcome national tensions. The new spirit ushered in by the Second Vatican Council genuinely challenged the cohesion of Polish historical memory. When the German bishops failed to respond more enthusiastically, to throw the Polish bishops a line across the Iron Curtain, the Poles buckled to enormous pressure for continued reliance on the national over the universal. The field of play was set: for all their success in personal and organizational reconciliation, the laity too fell back into national politics. Yet now, nearly two decades after the fall of the Berlin Wall, the pressures for national cohesion that existed in 1965 have dissipated; perhaps now is the time for a new enunciation of the ethics of reconciliation, to close the continuing chapter of PolishGerman traumatic memory. The German pope Benedict XVI, after watching the biographical feature film Karol: A Man Who Became Pope, made about his Polish predecessor, invoked the memory of the Polish bishops’ letter of 1965, reiterating,

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“Nothing is capable of making the world better, if evil isn’t overcome, and evil can be overcome through forgiveness.”115

Notes 1. Both Gospel quotations come from Saint Jerome’s Vulgate, reprinted as Biblia Sacra Iuxta Vulgatam Versionem (Stuttgart, Germany: Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, 1994). 2. “Polish Bishops’ Appeal to Their German Colleagues” (18 November 1965), in German-Polish Dialogue: Letters of the Polish and German Bishops and International Statements (New York: Edition Atlantic Forum, 1966), 7-19. 3. Solvay Workers’ Letter to Karol Wojtyła, quoted in Adam Michnik, “Z dziejów rynsztoka: Naganiacze i nieobywatelskie postepki,” Gazeta Wyborcza, 24-25 September 2005, 16. . 4. Basil Kerski and Robert Zurek, “Oredzie biskupów polskich i odpowiedz´ niemieckiego episkopatu z 1965 roku: Geneza, kontekst historyczny oraz oddziaływanie,” in Basil Kerski, Tomasz . Kycia, Robert Zurek, “Przebaczamy i prosimy o przebaczenie”. Oredzie biskupów polskich i odpowiedz´ niemieckiego episkopatu z 1965 roku. Geneza—kontekst—spus´cizna (Olsztyn, Poland: Borussia, 2006), 5-54, at 6. . 5. “About the Message of the German Bishops: In Whose Name?” Z ycie Warszawy, 10 December 1965, in German-Polish Dialogue, 29-40, at 38. 6. Polish primate Stefan Cardinal Wyszyn´ ski, Archbishop Karol Wojtyła, and Bishop Kazimierz Kowalski also reviewed and edited the final draft. On Kominek’s ethics and politics, see the work of journalist, writer, and documentary filmmaker Hansjakob Stehle, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung correspondent in Poland at the time, who knew Kominek and other bishops personally. See, for example, Stehle, “Seit 1960: Der mühsame katholische Dialog über die Grenze,” in Ungewöhnliche Normalisierung. Beziehungen der Bundesrepublik Deutschland zu Polen, ed. Werner Plum (Bonn, .Germany: Verlag Neue Gesellschaft, 1984);.Stehle, Interview with Basil Kerski, Tomasz Kycia, Robert Zurek (Berlin, 2005), in Kerski, Kycia, and Zurek, “Przebaczamy i prosimy o przebaczenie,” 126-40. See also Piotr Madajczyk, “‘Przebaczamy i prosimy o przebaczenie,’” Wie´z , September 1990, 112-24, at 113-14. . 7. Kerski and Zurek, “Oredzie biskupów polskich,” 26. 8. “Polish Bishops’ Appeal,” 16. . 9. “Polish Bishops’ Appeal,” 15. Basil Kerski and Robert Zurek . have appropriately termed the border question the “Achilles’s heel” of the Polish Church (Kerski and Zurek, “Oredzie biskupów polskich,” 28). 10. “Polish Bishops’ Appeal,” 15-16. 11. “The Polish Bishops,” Die Welt, 4 December 1965, in German-Polish Dialogue, 117-20. 12. Antoni Dudek has suggested that the central motivation behind the Polish bishops’ letter was, in fact, political-legal. According to Dudek, ethics remained secondary in the bishops’ calculations to the goal of normalizing Polish ecclesiastical administration of the western lands (i.e., shifting from temporary Polish apostolic administrations of German dioceses to formally Polish dioceses), a step that the Vatican was unwilling to take while the FRG failed to recognize the Potsdam border solution. Dudek is right to emphasize the significance of this political-legal question for Kominek and the Polish Church more generally; nonetheless, to dismiss Vatican II as a “pretext,” as Dudek does, is to overlook both the radical ethics that were central to the bishops’ initiative and the history of the universal Church to which the Poles belonged. See Dudek, “Oredzie i Milenium (1965-1966),” in Pan´ stwo i Kos´ciół w Polsce 19451970 (Kraków, Poland: PiT, 1995), 181-211, esp. at 181. 13. On the shared traumatic memory of aggressors and victims, see, for example, Piotr H. Kosicki, “Sites of Aggressor-Victim Memory: The Rwandan Genocide, Theory and Practice,” International Journal of Sociology 37, no. 1 (Spring 2007): 10-29. Specifically on Polish-German aggressor-victim memory, see Kosicki, “Polen und Deutschland: Die Wahlen 2005 und Wandlungen in der politischen

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Instrumentalisierung der Aggressor-Opfer-Problematik,” in Die Destruktion des Dialogs. Zur innenpolitischen Instrumentalisierung negativer Fremdbilder und Feindbilder. Polen, Tschechien, Deutschland und die Niederlande im Vergleich, 1900 bis heute, ed. Dieter Bingen, Peter Oliver Loew, and Kazimierz Wóycicki (Wiesbaden, Germany: Harrassowitz Verlag, 2007), 264-72. 14. See especially Cathy Caruth, Trauma: Explorations in Memory (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1995). 15. “Polish Bishops’ Appeal,” 16-17. 16. See, for example, Jean Delumeau, L’Aveu et le pardon: les difficultés de la confession, XIII-XVIII siècle (Paris: Fayard, 1964). 17. See, for example, Timothy P. Jackson, The Priority of Love: Christian Charity and Social Justice (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2003). 18. Søren Kierkegaard famously suggested that the Gospel exhortation to consider “the lilies of the field” and the “birds of the air” (Matthew 6:26-28) implied that “the person in distress actually gives his attention to the lilies and the birds and their life and forgets himself in contemplation of them.” This Gospel-derived conception of forgetfulness could serve as a device for coping with trauma, yet contemplative forgetfulness is impermanent: memory of the pain returns (Kierkegaard, “What We Learn from the Lilies in the Field and from the Birds of the Air,” Upbuilding Discourses in Various Spirits, trans. Howard V. Hong and Edna H. Hong [Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1993], 155-212). 19. The distinction between personal ethics and criminal responsibility or “political guilt” recalls Karl Jaspers’s reflections on guilt, specifically the culpability of post–World War II Germans for German wartime actions (Jaspers, The Question of German Guilt, trans. E. B. Ashton [New York: Dial Press, 1947]). For a crucial commentary on Jaspers, see Anson Rabinbach, “The German as Pariah: Karl Jaspers’s The Question of German Guilt,” in In the Shadow of Catastrophe: German Intellectuals between Apocalypse and Enlightenment (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1997), 129-65. 20. O’Malley, “Trent and Vatican II: Two Styles of Church,” in From Trent to Vatican II: Historical and Theological Investigations, ed. Raymond F. Bulman and Frederick J. Parrella (Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 2006), 301-20. 21. Saint Augustine, Confessions, trans. R. S. Pine-Coffin (New York: Penguin, 1961), 223, 226. I substitute the original oblivio for the English-language translator’s “forgetfulness” in these quotations to underscore the significance of the rationale behind this translation. 22. Saint Augustine, Sermon 142:3, cited in Hannah Arendt, Love and Saint Augustine, ed. Joanna Vecchiarelli Scott and Judith Chelius Stark (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1996), 28, n. 33. 23. Arendt, Love and Saint Augustine, 28-29. 24. A classic definition of kairos is a “religiously decisive time which is given and ordained by God, a Moment which is decisive in the determination of destiny,” eschatologically, “a Moment of ‘filled time’ in which the past is fulfilled.” See Paul S. Minear, “The Conception of History in the Prophets and Jesus,” Journal of Bible and Religion 11, no. 3 (1943): 156-61. 25. The English-language rendering of Paul Ricoeur’s La Mémoire, l’Histoire, l’Oubli as Memory, History, Forgetting is a prime example. 26. My understanding of the historical significance of oblivio as part of Augustine’s thought is deeply indebted to conversations with Peter Brown. The quoted phrase in this sentence is his. 27. John Paul II, Memory and Identity: Conversations at the Dawn of a Millenium (New York: Rizzoli, 2005), 144. 28. Ricoeur’s description comes from Aristotle’s The Athenian Constitution (Ricoeur, Memory, History, Forgetting, trans. Kathleen Blamey and David Pellauer [Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2004], 454). For a detailed discussion of the Athenian politics of reconciliation, see Nicole Loraux, La Cité divisée: L’Oubli dans la mémoire d’Athènes (Paris: Payot, 1997). 29. Ricoeur, Memory, History, Forgetting, 488. 30. Hannah Arendt, The Human Condition (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1958), 237-46. Ricoeur’s discussion is at Memory, History, Forgetting, 486-93.

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31. Ricoeur, Memory, History, Forgetting, 490. 32. Ricoeur, Memory, History, Forgetting, 473. 33. Ricoeur, Memory, History, Forgetting, 499. 34. “Polish Bishops’ Appeal,”. 18. 35. Basil Kerski and Robert Zurek have pointed out fascinating similarities—including lengthy passages copied word for word—as well as differences between the 1965 bishops’ letter and an earlier text by Kominek, intended as a welcoming speech for a 1960 Pax Christi pilgrimage to Poland that never came to pass due to the Polish state’s intransigence. The differences are particularly worthy of note, as they suggest a conscious decision by Kominek to turn the 1965 letter away from practical politics to a more philo. sophical message (Kerski and Zurek, “Oredzie biskupów polskich,” 22). 36. Friedrich Nietzsche posited “active forgetting” as a mechanism for preventing “ghosts” of the past from disturbing “the peace of a later moment” (Nietzsche, “On the Uses and Disadvantages of History for Life,” Untimely Meditations, trans. R. J. Hollingdale [Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1983], 57-124, at 61). Dominick LaCapra argues for the Nietzschean conception, calling it “a complement not an alternative to remembrance and memory work,” but ultimately even he notes that this forgetting is, in essence, “selective remembering,” that is to say, repression of selected memories (LaCapra, Writing History, Writing Trauma [Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2001], 96). It is thus a strictly pragmatic solution that falls short of the ethical-eschatological potential of the Augustinian oblivio. Nonetheless, the category of “active forgetting” is crucial to understanding the German Historikerstreit debates of the 1980s revolving around German collective remembrance of Nazi atrocities. See especially Jürgen Habermas, “Vom öffentlichen Gebrauch der Historie. Das offizielle Selbstverständnis der Bundesrepublik bricht auf,” Die Zeit, 7 November 1986. 37. For reasons of space, I do not deal at any length in this essay with the doctrine of the “forgetfulness of God,” according to which God’s forgiveness of sins for which humans have repented entails God’s forgetfulness of those sins, so that He looks upon those whom He has forgiven as non-sinners without memory of their past transgressions (“For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more” [Jeremiah 31:34]). This is an alternative but complementary understanding to that articulated by Augustine. It is kairos-centered, and, rather than emphasize the possibility for an ethics of oblivio in the world, the “forgetfulness of God” underscores the need for penance as a welcoming of God’s forgetfulness. To re-read Vatican II ethics through a comparative intellectual-historical framing of Augustinian oblivio and the forgetfulness of God would make a fascinating task for another essay. 38. In this sense, Kominek’s understanding is compatible with Ernest Renan’s insistence that forgetfulness is an “essential factor in the creation of a nation” (chapter 1, paragraph 7 of the 1882 Qu’est-ce qu’une nation?). 39. In using the word “radical,” I mean not only a sharp break with pre–Vatican II national fragmentation and ecclesiastical tridentinism, but also “radical” in the strictly etymological sense of radix, going back to the roots. Vatican II was, arguably, radical precisely because it drew Catholic theology and ecclesiology back to its patristic origins, before scholasticism, medieval Christendom, and the “Baroque” or “Counter-Reformation” qualities of early modern Catholicism. 40. “The Polish Bishops,” 119. 41. Indeed, the Polish emigré writer Juliusz Mieroszewski of Kultura in Paris in 1966 described the bishops’ letter as the first independent initiative in Polish foreign policy since the end of the Second World War and the emergence of the Eastern bloc. See Mieroszewski’s preface to Dialog polsko-niemiecki w ´swietle dokumentów kos´cielnych (Paris: Instytut Literacki, 1966). 42. “German Bishops’ Reply to Their Polish Colleagues” (5 December 1965), in German-Polish Dialogue, 21-25, at 21. 43. “German Bishops’ Reply,” 22. 44. “German Bishops’ Reply,” 23. 45. Jerzy Zawieyski, Diary, entry for 12 December 1965, Biblioteka Narodowa, Warsaw. Wiesław Chrzanowski, Interview (Warsaw, 6 November 2005).

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46. Wyszyn´ ski, Letter to Döpfner, 5 November 1970, cited in Stanisław Markiewicz, “Władysława Gomułki koncepcja polityki wyznaniowej,” in Działalnos´ c´ Władysława Gomułki. Fakty, wspomnienia, . opinie, ed. Walery Namiotkiewicz (Warsaw, Poland: Ksiaz ka i Wiedza, 1985), 172. . 47. Döpfner, Sermon, in Petrusblatt 43 (1960). See also Kerski and Zurek, “Oredzie biskupów polskich,” 14. 48. Döpfner later acknowledged in a letter to Wyszyn´ ski that, compared with the Poles’ letter, the German bishops’ response was “reticent” and “full of reserve” (Döpfner, Letter to Wyszyn´ ski (14 December 1970), cited in Edith Heller, Macht, Kirche, Politik. Der Briefwechsel zwischen den polnischen und deutschen Bischöfen im Jahre 1965 [Cologne, Germany: Treffpunkt-Verlag, 1992], 227). 49. Kominek, Interview (10 January 1966), in Die katholische Kirche und die Völker-Vertreibung, ed. Oskar Golombek (Cologne, Germany: Wienand-Verlag, 1966), 227-30. See also Piotr Madajczyk’s discussion in Madajczyk, Na drodze do pojednania. Wokół oredzia biskupów polskich do biskupów niemieckich z 1965 roku (Warsaw, Poland: PWN, 1994), 133. 50. In the summer of 1966, the Katholikentag conference of German Catholics passed a resolution that, while resolving to respect the “Polish nation,” also stipulated that German Catholics should “hold fast to the just and correct rights of their nation” (Bamberg Declaration, in Versöhnung aus der Kraft des Glaubens. Analysen, Dokumente, Perspektiven, ed. Gerhard Albert [Bonn, Germany: Pressestelle der Deutschen Bischofskonferenz Bonn, 1985], 24). 51. “The Polish Bishops,” 119. 52. “The Embattled Message,” Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 14 December 1965, in German-Polish Dialogue, 124. 53. “The Polish Bishops,” 118. 54. “Hope for a Reconciliation,” Berliner Morgenpost, 8 December 1965, in German-Polish Dialogue, 123. 55. According to Hansjakob Stehle, Kominek had asked the PUWP insider journalist Ignacy Krasicki to communicate to Gomułka information about the Polish bishops’ initiative, which he did; however, Krasicki represented the information as the fruit of investigations by the state security apparatus, rather than a sign of good faith on Kominek’s part. In Stehle’s mind, the false impression given by Krasicki only worsened the negative reaction when Gomułka. learned the precise contents of the letter (Stehle, . Interview with Basil Kerski, Tomasz Kycia, Robert Zurek [Berlin, 2005], in Kerski, Kycia, and Zurek, “Przebaczamy i prosimy o przebaczenie,” 126-40). Piotr Madajczyk has suggested that Krasicki may have been a pawn in internal political moves within the PUWP; see Madajczyk, “‘Przebaczamy i prosimy o przebaczenie,’” 119. 56. Wyszyn´ ski, Letter to Gomułka, 12 March 1966, reprinted in Dudek, Pan´ stwo i Kos´ciół w Polsce, 247-50, at 247. Wyszyn´ ski’s personal sense of hurt and disappointment deeply impressed many of his contemporaries (Zawieyski, Diary, entry for 12 December 1965, Biblioteka Narodowa, Warsaw); Chrzanowski, Interview (Warsaw, 6 November 2005). Aleksander Merker, “Władysław Gomułka a Kos´ciół katolicki,” Forum Klubowe 22 (VI-VII 2005), 53-58, at 56. (Merker was, in 1965, one of the departmental directors in the Ministry of Confessional Affairs.) Gottfried Erb of the Bensberger Kreis recalls that the primate’s decision to thank the Kreis with a formal letter on behalf of the entire Polish Episcopate was universally interpreted as an expression of his displeasure with the German bishops’ . . response (Gottfried Erb, Interview with Robert Zurek [Hungen, 2005], in Kerski, Kycia, and Zurek, “Przebaczamy i prosimy o przebaczenie,” 173-81, at 179-80). 57. AAN: PZPR/V/80, 425. See also Andrzej Friszke, Koło posłów “ZNAK” w Sejmie PRL: 19571976 (Warsaw, Poland: Wydawnictwo Sejmowe, 2002), 67. 58. The exact phrasing was “have willfully encroached upon the area of foreign policy” (“About the Message,” 40). 59. “About the Message,” 33. 60. “About the Message,” 30. 61. “About the Message,” 35. 62. “About the Message,” 36. 63. “About the Message,” 40.

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64. In January 1966, Gomułka responded to a speech by Catholic intellectual Jerzy Turowicz with a vigorous, public attempt to exploit differences of opinion between Kominek and Wyszyn´ ski in order to drive a wedge into the Polish Episcopate. See Friszke, Koło posłów “ZNAK,” 68-69. 65. Confessional Affairs Ministry officials compiled the data in cooperation with local and provincial bureaucrats: for interviews with parish priests, through the presidia of National County Councils (Powiatowe Rady Narodowe); for interviews with bishops, through the presidia of National Voivodeship Councils (Wojewódzkie Rady Narodowe). According to Confessional Affairs Ministry figures, 51 percent of parish priests declared opposition to the letter, while only 22 percent declared support; meanwhile 46 of the 51 interviewed bishops gave statements similar to Archbishop Wojtyła’s declaration, “the letter is a great enterprise, bringing success in Polish-German relations.” See Dudek, Pan´stwo i Kos´ciół w Polsce, 189-91, with Wojtyła cited at 191. The reports are at AAN: UdSW/WWR/78/35, UdSW/WWR/78/37. 66. Wyszyn´ ski, Sermon, 3 February 1966, cited in Madajczyk, Na drodze do pojednania, 138. 67. Władysław Bartoszewski, Aus der Geschichte lernen? Aufsätze und Reden zur Kriegs—und Nachkriegsgeschichte Polens (Munich, Germany: Deutscher Taschenbuch Verlag, 1989), 333. 68. Michnik, “Z dziejów rynsztoka,” 16. 69. Friszke, Koło posłów “ZNAK,” 70. 70. The distinction between Catholic and non-Catholic intellectuals is fundamental in terms of the Polish domestic reception of the bishops’ letter. As Adam Michnik has underscored, the events of 1968 changed his own attitude and the attitudes of other non-Catholic intellectuals, for whom the Catholics later became brothers in dialogue and arms. In 1965-66, however, as he later acknowledged, Michnik saw in the letter only a tendentious “defense of the ‘trenches of the Holy Trinity’” (Michnik, Kos´ciół, Lewica, Dialog [Paris: Instytut Literacki, 1977], 61). For Michnik’s complete reflections on the significance of the bishops’ letter, consult Kos´ciół, Lewica, Dialog, 60-81. 71. Vincent Casmere Chrypinski, “The Movement of ‘Progressive Catholics’ in Poland,” PhD diss., University of Michigan, 1958; Mikołaj Stanisław Kunicki, “The Polish Crusader: The Life and Politics of Bolesław Piasecki, 1915-1979,” PhD diss., Stanford University, 2004. 72. Accounts by former Tygodnik Powszechny editors and writers describe finding “the office door padlocked and barricaded all of a sudden one day” (Jacek Woz´ niakowski, Interview [Warsaw, 24 May 2007]). PAX took the name of the weekly without any of its personnel or any public acknowledgment that the paper had changed hands. 73. By 1958, the group also included the monthly Wiez´ and a concession for a small circle of parliamentary deputies. 74. “Ocena efektów politycznych kontaktów zagranicznych Katolików s´wieckich/PAX-ChSS-KIK [1967],” in AAN: UdSW/WSiSO/89/204, 7. 75. Maciej Morawski, Interview (Warsaw, 18 March 2006); Tadeusz Mys´lik, Interview (Warsaw, 2 March 2006); Janusz Zabłocki, Interview (Warsaw, 11 October 2005). 76. “Ocena efektów,” 1. It is worth noting also that many of the older Catholic intellectuals—Jerzy Turowicz is a leading example—had traveled abroad extensively prior to World War II. 77. “Ocena efektów,” 13. . 78. Stanisław Stomma, Interview with Basil Kerski and Robert Zurek (Warsaw, 2000), in Kerski, . Kycia, and Zurek, “Przebaczamy i prosimy o przebaczenie,” 81-96. . 79. Tadeusz . Mazowiecki, Interview with Tomasz Kycia and Robert Zurek (Warsaw, 2005), in Kerski, Kycia, and Zurek, “Przebaczamy i prosimy o przebaczenie,” 97-110. 80. For a detailed narrative of the presentation of Polish-German relations in Tygodnik Powszechny and other Polish Catholic publications, see Andrzej Ranke, Stosunki polsko-niemieckie w polskiej publicystyce katolickiej w latach 1945-1989 (Torun´ , Poland: Europejskie Centrum Edukacyjne, 2004). 81. Wojciech Pieciak, ed., Polacy i Niemcy pół wieku póz´ niej: Ksiega pamieciowa dla Mieczysława Pszona (Krakow, Poland: Znak, 1996). 82. Alice Holmes Cooper, Paradoxes of Peace: German Peace Movements since 1945 (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1995), esp. 170-72. 83. Władysław Bartoszewski, Interview (Warsaw, 9 March 2006).

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84. See the file on the Aktion Sühnezeichen in the archives of the Polish Ministry of Confessional Affairs at AAN: UdSW/WSiSO/127/250. 85. See, for example, Jan Krucina, “Obchody kos´cielnego dwudziestolecia,” in Krucina, ed., Kos´ciół na Ziemiach Zachodnich (Wrocław, Poland: Wrocławska Ksiegarnia Archidiecezjalna, 1971), 101-12. 86. Kominek confirmed this in a 1966 interview that appeared as “Deutsche erwiesen uns einen Bärendienst,” Stern, 18 April 1966. 87. Jerzy Zawieyski, Speech before the Sejm, 12 November 1965, in Sprawozdanie stenograficzne z II sesji, 3 posiedzenia Sejmu, 12 listopada 1965, 95-103, at 96. 88. Zawieyski, Speech, 95. 89. Jerzy Zawieyski, Diary, entry of 12 December 1965. The full extent of Zawieyski’s personal sense of hurt at the primate’s treatment of him was apparent in the entry for 18 December 1965, in which Zawieyski wrote, “I declared also that I take full responsibility, but I would back my brothers, whom he was hurting, treating them as enemies of the Church.” 90. Andrzej Friszke, Interview with Marek Zajac, Tygodnik Powszechny, 24 March 2002, http://www.tygodnik.com.pl/numer/275012/friszke.html. 91. Jerzy Zawieyski, Declaration by the “ZNAK” Parliamentary Group, 14 December 1965, in Sprawozdanie stenograficzne z II sesji, 5 posiedzenia Sejmu, 14 grudnia 1965, 143-44, at 144. 92. Zawieyski, Declaration, 143. On 14 January 1966, Jerzy Turowicz gave a speech before the assembled Front of National Unity (Front Jednos´ci Narodowej) echoing the primate’s dissatisfaction with Zawieyski’s speeches, suggesting that they should have offered full support of the bishops’ letter without a hint of criticism; Wyszyn´ ski’s failure to work in concert with the intellectuals thus resulted in divisions even within their own ranks (Turowicz, Speech, printed in Oredzie biskupów polskich do biskupów niemieckich, materiały i dokumenty, 2d ed. (Warsaw, Poland: Polonia, 1966), 185-89). 93. For example, the Warsaw Catholic Intelligentsia Club held weekly workshops after the Council’s deliberations had ended at which club members led discussions of the documents and encyclicals promulgated by the Council. Partial documentation from these workshops is at AAN: KIK 106. 94. This disaffection coincided with an emerging split within the ZNAK movement itself. As ZNAK moved away from the primate toward its own understanding of the Second Vatican Council, a dissident group led by Janusz Zabłocki, a ZNAK Member of Parliament and Wie´z co-founder with Mazowiecki, established a new— though technically still part of ZNAK—Catholic institution, Os´rodek Dokumentacji i Studiów Społecznych (ODiSS, the Center for Documentation and Social Studies). After 1968, this split became pronounced; in 1976, it became definitive, as Zabłocki’s group assumed full control of the ZNAK parliamentary club. 95. Jerzy Zawieyski, Diary, entry of 9 April 1966. See also Jerzy Turowicz, “1000,” Tygodnik Powszechny, 10-17 April 1966. 96. See Dieter Bingen, Die Bonner Deutschlandpolitik 1969-1979 in der polnischen Publizistik (Frankfurt, Germany: A. Metzner, 1982). 97. “Protokół rozmowy z Jerzym Turowiczem [3 VII 1962],” in AAN: UdSW/WSiSO/89/47, 12. 98. Polish Radio Intercept, 18 November 1965, in AAN: UdSW/WSiSO/89/53, [manuscript pp.] 18-19. 99. “Ocena efektów,” 9. 100. Tadeusz Mazowiecki, Interview (Warsaw 25 January 2006). 101. Wolfgang Pailer, Stanisław Stomma: Nestor der polnisch-deutschen Aussöhnung (Bonn, Germany: Bouvier, 1995). 102. Erb, Interview, 173-81. . 103. See, for example, Mazowiecki, Interview, in Kerski, Kycia, and Zurek, “Przebaczamy i prosimy o przebaczenie,” 102. For the Bensberger Kreis memorandum more generally, see Manfred Seidler, “Das Polen-Memorandum des Bensberger Kreises. Wirkung in Deutschland und Polen,” in Feinde werden Freunde. Von den Schwierigkeiten der deutsch-polnischen Nachbarschaft, ed. Friedbert Pflüger and Winfried Lipscher (Bonn, Germany: Bouvier, 1993), 103-12. 104. Władysław Bartoszewski, Interview with Stefan Wilkanowicz, EuroDialog 1/97, http://www .znak.com.pl/eurodialog/ed/1/bartoszewski.html.en.

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105. See especially Tadeusz Mazowiecki, “Polska-Niemcy i memorandum ‘Bensberger Kreis,’” Wie ´z May 1968, 3-23. 106. AAN: UdSW/WWR/125/93. 107. For details on the organization of the pilgrimage, see .Alfons Erb, Letter, 3 March 1964, Pax Christi Archiv, Bad Vilbel: Auschwitz File. See also Kerski and Zurek, “Oredzie biskupów polskich,” 15. The German Pax Christi pilgrims for the most part came away with an extremely favorable impression of Polish Catholics: “we were received in this country that had suffered so much at German hands with a shaming warmth, brotherliness, and hospitality” (Klara Dirks, “Bußwallfahrt nach Auschwitz,” Frau und Mutter (1964), 248). 108. See, for example, “Dodatkowa informacja [ws. wyjazdu do Holandii na Miedzynarodowe Seminarium Pax Christi 4-8 kw. 1972 r.],” February 1972, AJT: Pax Christi File; H. Ernst, Pax Christi Netherlands Chair, Letter to Turowicz, 21 March 1985, AJT: Pax Christi File. 109. Władysław Bartoszewski, Interview (Warsaw, 9 March 2006). 110. Die Zeit, 27 June 1975, cited in Bartoszewski, Letter to Kazimierz Kakol, 9 July 1975, AJT: Władysław Bartoszewski Correspondence File, 5. See also AAN: UdSW/WWR/126/351. 111. “Stowarzyszenia katolickie—charakterystyka i działalnos´ci 1965,” in AAN: UdSW/WSiSO/ 127/149, 9. 112. “Ocena efektów,” 13. 113. Consult especially Jacques Maritain, Humanisme intégral: problèmes temporels et spirituels d’une nouvelle chrétienté (Paris: F. Aubier, 1936); Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Nachfolge (Munich, Germany: C. Kaiser, 1937). For Polish thinking on Bonhoeffer, see Anna Morawska, Chrzes´cijanin w Trzeciej Rzeszy (Warsaw, Poland: Biblioteka WIEZI, 1970). 114. Krzysztof Kozłowski, Interview (Kraków, 12 May 2006); Tadeusz Mazowiecki, Interview (Warsaw, 25 January 2006); Marek Skwarnicki, Interview (Kraków, 11 May 2006). 115. Benedict . XVI, Speech after Premiere of Karol: A Man Who Became Pope, 19 May 2005, cited in Kerski and Z urek, “Oredzie biskupów polskich,” 6.

Piotr H. Kosicki is a Ph.D. Candidate in the Department of History at Princeton University. In 2005-06, he held a Fulbright Fellowship at Warsaw University and was a lecturer at the University’s Center for East European Studies.

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Caritas across the Iron Curtain  

http://eep.sagepub.com/cgi/content/abstract/23/2/213 Published by: The online version of this article can be found at: On behalf of: Piotr H...

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