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Noch ist Polen nicht verloren! Germany, Poland – and Ukraine?

There seems to be a widespread inability in Germany to look at oneself from the position of others and to accept the intricacies of history and memory and their influence on the present. But it is not only the perception of place in the past that is the problem. For some in Germany everything east of the Oder river today is still lumped together as “Eastern Europe”.

February 24th 1940, the concentration camp of Hohenbruch in East Prussia: on the eve of his 50th birthday, the Polish publisher, writer and activist Seweryn Pieniężny Jr. is beaten up, forced to dig his own grave and then, in his underwear, shot by Nazi guards. According to the writer Eugeniusz Tryniszewski, who published a short biography of Seweryn in 1987, his last words, shouted in German so his executors would understand, were “Noch ist Polen nicht verloren!”, Poland has not yet perished – the first line of the Polish national anthem.
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April 28, 2023 - Marcel Krueger - Issue 1-2 2023MagazineStories and ideas

Seweryn Pieniężny (left) at work at the Gazeta Olsztyńska newspaper. Photo from the Polish National Archive.

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