Comparing Postwar (West) German-Polish and Sino-Japanese Reconciliation: A Bridge Too Far?
Europe-Asia Studies, 63(7), 1157- 1194, September 2011
Yinan He, Ph.D School of Diplomacy and International Relations
The article argues that the harmonisation of national memories facilitates genuine reconciliation, while memory divergence resulting from national mythmaking hampers reconciliation. After WWII, Sino–Japanese and West German–Polish relations were antagonised by the Cold War structure, and pernicious myths prevailed in national collective memory. Then China and Japan brushed aside historical legacy for immediate diplomatic normalisation, but their reconciliation was impeded by elite mythmaking practices. Since the 1970s West Germany and Poland have de-mythified war history and engaged in historical settlement, paving the way for deep reconciliation after the Cold War.