chapter  5
18 Pages

German minorities in Poland and the Czech Republic

Another issue in German-Eastern European relations which could not be resolved during the Cold War was the status of remaining ethnic Germans in Central and Eastern Europe. To the extent that the West German government was able to negotiate improvements in their position during the Cold War, such improvements were the result of bilateral efforts. After the end of the Cold War the German government negotiated a further set of bilateral agreements, but the minority rights provisions of these agreements more or less conformed to multilateral minority rights standards formulated by the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe and other multilateral bodies. The links between issues such as the recognition of Poland’s western border, compensation for Nazi victims and the rights of German minorities in Central and Eastern Europe may not be obvious, but during the Cold War and at the end of the Cold War period such links were in fact quite tight. In a memorandum prepared by a highranking foreign office official for a meeting with Chancellor Brandt in April 1970, the West German diplomat proposed that the German delegation link German concessions on the border issue with demands for Polish concessions on minority issues. The West German delegation should not bring up the reparations question, though.1 Twenty years later, on February 27, 1990, in the context of negotiations on German reunification, officials in Chancellor Kohl’s office suggested to Kohl that he propose a friendship treaty, which would contain a final recognition of Poland’s western border, a final Polish renunciation of reparations claims and a legally binding Polish commitment to respect the minority rights of ethnic Germans in Poland.2