The New German Government and the Moral-Historical Dimension of Czech-German Relations

  • Miroslav Kunštát
Keywords: German Foreign Policy after the Election 2005, Czech-German Relations, Czech-Bavarian Relations, Czech-Saxonian Relations, Public Culture of the Historical Memory, The Role and Identity of the Organizations of German Refugees


During both occasions of the 1st anniversary of the German Grand Coalition government CDU/CSU and SPD (2005/2006) and of the 10th anniversary of the Czech-German Declaration on reconciliation (1997) the author analysis the recent German foreign policy, especially the role of past burdens in the bilateral relations. Gradually, although they faced many complications, both a legal and political solution was found, and instilled, creating a prevision for, and to a certain degree institutionalizing "the culture of historical controversy". The rhetoric of historical guilt and responsibility slowly disappears in Germany's relationships to the states of Central and East Central Europe, it relates also to the reconciliation rituals. On the other hand the new German government (with the CDU-chancellorship) has accepted all declarations and treaties made by preceding governments, including those which deal with property issues between the F.R.G. and Poland/Czech Republics respectively. The main dash is not drawn between any single political camps; rather nowadays, it is drawn right across the German society and their political elites. Especially the topic of World War II and its victims has become a conventional subject and one of public historical memory. This appeared shortly after the new government was appointed into office, as well as the idea that the moral-historical dimension of the Czech-German, Polish-German (and any other neighbors to Germany) relations will not disappear, but instead achieve a new quality. Only the role of moderator will be given to the governments and to the political sphere. Parallel to the departure of the last generation of contemporaries, the theme will be changed, and there will be only one of many reference frameworks in German relations to its neighbor states and their societies. This will, however, not be a linear process: relapsing is not excluded and it will depend on the responsibility and maturity of the political elites as well as the quality of the Czech-German "community of interests" (including the constituting role of European Security and Energy policies), as to how they will be managed.

Author Biography

Miroslav Kunštát