Komisja Podręcznikowa

Polish and German members of the Schoolbook Commission at the award ceremony for the Viadrina Prize in June 2017.
Polish and German members of the Schoolbook Commission at the award ceremony for the Viadrina Prize in June 2017.

The first meeting of the German-Polish Textbook Commission was held in Warsaw between 22nd and 26th February 1972, in the presence of historians and geography experts from both countries. Since the Cold War and the lack of diplomatic relations between the Federal Republic of Germany and the People's Republic of Poland had made official dialogue impossible for many years, this meeting was preceded by years of informal contacts and efforts between academics.

The pioneer of the German-Polish textbook discussion in the post-war period was the Oldenburg grammar school teacher, Enno Meyer (1913-1996), who had been a soldier in the Wehrmacht during World War II. After the war Meyer's experiences on the Eastern Front persuaded him to explore Polish history. His aim was to achieve the widest possible presentation of German-Polish topics in school books without them having a one-sided, national perspective. Meyer discussed his thoughts with Polish academics who lived in exile at the time. As a result, in 1956 the International School Book Institute in Braunschweig published 46 theses. Amongst others, Meyer warned against German school books excessively glorifying the Teutonic Order, and against Polish textbooks highlighting its military role. He also pointed out that Germans had focussed on the suffering of the Jewish population during World War II, whilst overlooking the injustices inflicted on Poles and other nationalities under the German occupation.

Although Meyer's theses led to major controversies, they were met with a tremendous response from academics in Germany and the People's Republic of Poland. They formulated the core problem, although it had not been possible for a long time to establish an official dialogue. On the German side the educationalist, ethnologist and historian Georg Eckert (1912-1974), who had been the President of the German UNESCO Commission since 1964, made an equally important contribution to setting up the German-Polish Textbook Commission. He established contacts in Central and Eastern European countries and joined forces with them to establish bilateral textbook commissions. 

The first meeting of academics in the context of the German-Polish Textbook Commission was preceded by a noticeable improvement in relations at government level. On 7th December 1970, the "Warsaw Treaty” was signed between the Federal Republic of Germany and the People's Republic of Poland on the basis of the normalisation of their mutual relations, and the Federal Republic of Germany recognised the western border of Poland on the Oder and Neisse rivers. In addition, the governments of both countries committed themselves to working to expand their mutual economic, cultural and scientific relations. On that day of Willy Brandt's genuflection before the Monument of the Heroes of the Ghetto in Warsaw, it also came to commemorate the murdered people. This historical gesture was to become a symbol of his policy of understanding with the East.

Mediathek
  • he presentation of the first history book on 22. June 2016 in the Robert Jungk High School in Berlin.

    The presentation of the first history book on 22. June 2016

    he presentation of the first history book on 22. June 2016 in the Robert Jungk High School in Berlin.
  • The project group that worked of the first volume of the “Joint History Book”: staff from the Georg Eckert Institute in Braunschweig and the Berlin Centre for Historical Research at the Polish Academy of Sciences, and the two publishing houses, Eduversum in Wiesbaden and Wydawnictwa Szkolne i Pedagogiczne (WSiP) in Warsaw.

    The Project Group

    The project group that worked of the first volume of the “Joint History Book”.
  • The presentation of the first volume of the history book. Left to right: Thomas Strobel, the Secretary of the History Book Project on the German side, and both Foreign Ministers, Frank-Walter Steinmeier and Witold Waszczkowski.

    The presentation of the first volume of the history book

    The presentation of the first volume of the history book. Left to right: Thomas Strobel, the Secretary of the History Book Project on the German side, and both Foreign Ministers, Frank-Walter Steinmei...
  • Piwniczna 1990

    Piwniczna 1990

    The conference participants enjoy a break together in Piwniczna, 1990.
  • A meeting of the German-Polish Schoolbook Commission in Münster, January 1980.

    Meeting in Münster, January 1980

    A meeting of the German-Polish Schoolbook Commission in Münster, January 1980.
  • Award ceremony for the Viadrina Prize

    Award ceremony for the Viadrina Prize

    Polish and German members of the Schoolbook Commission at the award ceremony for the Viadrina Prize in June 2017.
  • The Polish version of the history book “Europe – our History” (“Europa - nasza historia”).

    The Polish version of the history book

    The Polish version of the history book “Europe – our History” (“Europa - nasza historia”).
  • The German version of the history book “Europe – our History” (“Europa - nasza historia”).

    The German version of the history book

    The German version of the history book “Europe – our History” (“Europa - nasza historia”).