Provocateurs and their meme

A Mrs. Steinbach, representative of German refugees, managed to provoke some outrage by mentioning that Poland had mobilised in 1939 before Germany did so.

There's a pattern in use by agent provocateurs that's really simple: They use a correct fact, omit the context and have a predictable misleading effect on the audience. The politically correct outrage is expected, but the agent provocateur can defend himself/herself by pointing at the factual correctness.
We've had more than enough of this in the last weeks over here.

Yes, Poland did mobilize early - but that's the least meaningful and most misleading detail of the whole topic. It's either stupid or deliberate when someone picks this detail for a discussion.
Poland's list of inter-war year sins was huge (easily in the top ten of worst or most evil states of the period). It's enticing to write about it, but that simply doesn't belong into this blog.

(edit: New reports assert that Steinbach referred to a fictious March 1933 mobilization of Poland, which is obvious nonsense. I think either the reports or Steinbach mixed up '33 and '39.)

Mrs. Steinbach is in my opinion either stupid, ill-informed or deliberately provoking.

It's sad, but we will predictably direct much more public attention on provocations in the future - attention that could be directed at real problems instead.

Another problem is the political correctness outrage. It's harmful to civil society, for it's ill-aimed. The correctness of the stated fact should not be questioned, and the assertion that she's "außerhalb des demokratischen Konsenses in Deutschland" (outside of the democratic consensus in Germany) because she mentioned a true fact (which most likely most in the audience were not aware of) is highly questionable.

We should really develop a political culture that can live with unpleasant truths well enough to not be offended by them. At the same time this political culture should sanction agent provocateurs and not allow them to become quickly rehabilitated and spew B.S. again as happened in the case of (politically very differently oriented) Friedmann.

Good policy required a reality-based discussion of topics, and decisions based in reality. Feel-good political correctness is often a deviation from reality; a distortion of the political discussion that should be avoided.

Sven Ortmann


  1. Why should a political culture based on rational discussion and decision making sanction such people? Anticipating it is really rational and well accepted by most of its recipients provocateurs would be of no signifacance and therefore could easily be ignored - if they would get any attention at all...

  2. Well, if the sanction is that (s)he will be ignored ...?

  3. Then lets hope that people recognize the difference between the bad guy and a honest critic!

  4. It would be interesting (as in to get away from the Poland-as-first-strike theory) to list Poland's sins, as you see them. At least I would (please, divorced from the first-strike).

    I know what I consider to be what they did wrong, I'm just wondering how much a German military man knows about it.

  5. They had a huge pile of minorities-related issues up to the scale of what would nowadays be called genocide; Jews, Germans, Ukrainians, Lithuanians, Bjelorussians and to lesser extent Czechs.
    The territories which were eventually lost to the Soviet Union were mostly not really "Polish", but belonged to Ukrainians, Belorussians and Lithuanians.

    Poland was aggressive towards several neighbours, including Lithuania, Czechoslovakia and of lesser relevance also Germany (see border region plebiscite history) and the very early Soviet Union.

    It might also be added that from the lowest to the highest levels, many Poles exhibited a very belligerent and optimistic attitude even up to the first days of the war ('three weeks till we are in Berlin'). A comparable attitude is commonly exploited for the accusation of Germany in 1914, so it should work on Poland as well.

    Finally, it was a military dictatorship for most of the inter-war years.

    Hitler wanted the war with Poland, but Poland wasn't even close to being an innocent victim either. It had its pile of inter-war years sins.

    Btw, I am not a representative "German military man". My interest in history is unusual and I've left active service years ago.