Jaroslaw Kaczynski: photo - PAP/Maciej Kulczyński
Tomasz Nalecz, an advisor to President Komorowski, has said proposals by Kaczynski, leader of Law and Justice (PiS), Poland's largest opposition party, to give the German minority in Poland the same rights as Poles have in Germany, “treats citizens in their own country as hostages”.
Jaroslaw Kaczynski said on Saturday during a visit to the city of Opole in the south west, which has a sizeable population of the German minority in Poland, that if his party came to power then, “Germans in Poland should have as many rights as Poles do in Germany.”
In the 2011 national census, the German minority in Poland consisted of 126,000, 58,000 declaring both German and Polish nationalities and 36,000 solely German nationality.
Once a majority in Silesia, the German community was reduced to minority status with the shift of Poland's border westwards following Nazi defeat in WW II.
The German minority was provided with special rights following the collapse of communism, with the creation of bilingual road signs and over 300 German language schools in Poland, with the community guaranteed a seat in the Polish parliament and representation in the provincial government.
The nationalist and conservative Jaroslaw Kaczynski, however, claimed that these privileges served to encourage separatism in the region.
“I am convinced that this is leading to a situation whereby one way or another, directly or indirectly, these lands will be cut away from Poland,” he said.
Kaczynski suggested that Poland had been too “idealistic” towards the German minority following the collapse of communism in 1989, adding that he hopes to stage a march in Opole in May under the slogan of “Poland is here” (Tu jest Polska).
Janusz Palikot, leader of liberal Palikot Movement, says that Poland's historic German minority cannot be directly compared with the recent wave of Polish emigrants to Germany.
He described Kaczynski's words as “scandalous hate speech, playing off people against each other.”
“Kaczynski knows that the rights of the German minority in Poland have a very different historical basis than the rights of Poles who have emigrated in the last 20 years in Germany,” he said. (pg/nh)