In Brief

Poland refuse to sign off German ambassador over father’s Nazi links

German officials suspect dispute is ‘politically motivated’ following fraught election campaign

The future of Germany’s new ambassador to Poland hangs in the balance amid a press storm over his father’s past as a senior officer under the Nazis. 

Earlier in the summer, Arndt Freytag von Loringhoven, “a former Nato intelligence chief, well-regarded ambassador to Prague and capable jazz guitarist” was nominated to take up the post, The Times reports.

But Poland has delayed formalising the appointment, while right-wing press in the country have “lambasted” Freytag von Loringhoven over his father’s links to Adolf Hitler. 

His father, Bernd Freytag von Loringhoven, was a Wehrmacht officer under the Nazis and prepared Hitler’s daily military briefings towards the end of the Second World War. 

After being absolved of war crimes, he became a senior figure in the West German armed forces and later worked as an adviser on the film Downfall. He died in 2007.

Najwyszy Czas (High Time), a conservative Polish magazine, described the nomination as “Merkel’s gift to the Poles - son of Hitler’s aide de camp will be ambassador to Warsaw”. 

But German officals suspect that the Polish response to Freytag von Loringhoven has little to do with his family history and may in fact be politically motivated.  

President Andrzej Duda frequently deployed “anti-German rhetoric” during his “protracted campaign for the Polish election” this year, the Financial Times notes. 

Duda, who has the support of the ruling Law and Justice party, attacked coverage of the election by German-owned media, singling out the Polish tabloid Fakt, which is owned by German-Swiss publishing house Ringier Axel Springer.

The two countries have also “recently sparred over other issues such as the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, which Berlin backs but Warsaw bitterly opposes”, the FT adds.

Both will want to resolve the dispute as quickly as possible, The Times suggests, as “there are also strong trade ties between the neighbours”. Germany is by far Poland’s largest export market, purchasing a greater amount of its goods than the next four countries combined.

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