“The Churches overtook politics”. The contribution of religious factors and faith-based initiatives to Polish-German reconciliation


reconciliation, forgiveness, guilt, Polish-German relations, civil society


More than half-century long process of reconciliation between Poland and Germany can be recognized as one the most exceptional contemporary examples of the rebuilding of relations both socially and politically. The fact that the reconciliation process between “eternal enemies”, Poland and Germany, succeeded is considered in metaphysical categories a ‘miracle of reconciliation’. The essence of this process was well summarized in 2015 in the Common Statement of the President of Poland Andrzej Duda and the President of Germany Joachim Gauck in the words “the Churches overtook politics”.

This article aims to outline the contribution of the religious element as a significant factor in the process of Polish-German reconciliation, during which non-state actors were crucial players at its earliest stage, namely till the mid-1960s. The author proposes that in the case of the Polish-German

reconciliation process the role played by civil society to a great extent was motivated by the religious convictions and faith-based engagement of the pioneers, who became bridge-builders in Polish-German relations not only independently or without the support of, but usually against contemporary political elites. In this particular case, reconciliation, religiously rooted, was both deliberated and practically utilized with reference to its theological understanding.