The bishops of Germany and Poland have pledged “to strengthen and deepen the unity of Europe” on the 80th anniversary of the outbreak of World War II.

Driving the news

This Sunday, September 1, marks 80 years since Nazi Germany’s invasion of Poland, as the German and Polish prelates have recalled in a new joint declaration.

The first bombs dropped on the city of Wielun 80 years ago today caused “painful losses and destruction”, the bishops lamented.

In this way, “Poland became the first victim of World War II, suffering almost six years under occupation, which was accompanied by countless atrocities and destructive politics of extermination of the Polish nation, especially the Jewish population”, the prelates said.


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All told, some 6 million Poles – including 3 million Polish Jews – became “victims of the Nazi criminal system”, the bishops denounced.

“We are aware of the pain that victims and their loved ones suffered and which is still felt today”, the prelates added, noting that the pain of mass exterminations was only exacerbated by the “great harm and suffering” caused by mass displacements and resettlements.

In order to overcome the suffering and its painful after-effects in memory, the bishops continued, “we must all sincerely participate in the reconciliation process between our nations”, and “to seek with determination the truth”.

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Why it matters

Though today, 80 years after the outbreak of war, Poland, Germany and the rest of countries in Europe are experiencing “many changes for the better”, “one should deal in a responsible way with fruits of reconciliation”, the prelates warned.

These fruits must not be allowed “to be recklessly compromised because of political interests”, the bishops insisted.

Relations between Poland and Germany “should never be marked with violence, mutual suspicion or injustice”, they explained.

“It is up to us today to strengthen and deepen the unity of Europe”, the prelates urged, explaining that despite “the historical distinctions of individual nations and states” on the continent, Europe was “built on Christian foundations”.

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What’s next

The bishops of Poland and Germany concluded their statement with a call to prayer “for the peace in the world” during all Masses to be celebrated Sunday.

“We also ask all believers to pray in their personal prayers for the cessation of all conflicts and wars, all terror and all violence, and to implore for peace for all people”, the prelates said.

In this way, the prelates added their voices to that of Pope Francis, who this week in the Wednesday General Audience prayed for peace ahead of the anniversary of the beginning of World War II.

“We shall all pray for peace, so that the tragic consequences of hate – which brought only destruction, suffering, and death – may never be repeated”, Francis said.

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