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“Historical speculation”: why does Poland once again raise the issue of reparations for the years of the German occupation


In Poland, the question of reparations from Germany for the damage caused during the Second World War is still considered topical. This was stated by the country's Foreign Minister Jacek Czaputovich during a speech timed to the 75th anniversary of the Warsaw Uprising. Earlier, at a press conference, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, who also took part in commemorative events, said that in Germany, the issue of reparations to the Polish side is considered closed. According to experts, returning to this topic, Warsaw seriously hopes to get some funds from Berlin. Analysts also believe that the Polish authorities use the theme of reparations to divert public attention from internal problems.

The question of the payment of reparations to Poland by Germany for the damage caused to it during World War II is not yet closed. This was announced on Thursday by Foreign Minister Jacek Czaputovich, speaking at commemorative events dedicated to the 75th anniversary of the Warsaw Uprising.

“The damage done to Poland and the Poles was not repaired by those who caused it. The Poles themselves, by their efforts and labor, restored the ruined capital, quotes the Minister of Tass. “This fact is a vivid illustration of a wider problem that does not allow Poles to recognize the question of reparations as closed.”

Thus, he responded to the words of the head of the German Foreign Ministry, Heiko Maas, who at a press conference stated that the issue of reparations "is closed for Germany." On August 1, the Meuse visited Warsaw to pay homage to the participants in the uprising.

Speaking at the Museum of the Warsaw Uprising, he declared that he was ashamed of the fact that "the Germans, acting on behalf of Germany, did to Poland."

  • Foreign Ministers of Poland and Germany Yacek Chaputovich and Heiko Maas at events marking the 75th anniversary of the Warsaw Uprising
  • © Kay Nietfeld / dpa

The topic of reparations from Germany once again began to be actively discussed in Poland with the coming to power of the nationalist president Andrzej Duda and the Law and Justice party. The leader of this political force, Jaroslaw Kaczynski, in 2017, said that his country did not give up claims to Germany and considered the question of compensation to be open.

This view was supported by the then head of the Polish Ministry of Defense, Anthony Macчerevich, who said that Poland had legal grounds for demanding compensation from the FRG. And the head of the parliamentary committee on reparation payments, Arkadiusz Mularczyk, voiced the approximate amount that Warsaw expects to receive - $ 1 trillion. This figure exceeds the estimates made in 1947, according to which the damage inflicted was estimated at $ 50 million, which in terms of today's exchange rate is about $ 850 billion.

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The head of state also intervened in the discussion: Andrzej Duda called the topic of reparations a question of “truth and responsibility”.

“In my opinion, the topic of reparation payments is not closed. In the Polish Parliament, in the Sejm this group was raised by a group of experts. The parliamentarians will discuss this issue and decide what steps to take next, ”RIA Novosti quotes Dudu.

Decades after the end of the war, not only Poland is trying to get compensation from Germany. Greece made a similar demand in 2018. Its president, Prokopis Pavlopoulos, said at the time that the demands of Athens for the reimbursement of the “occupation loan and the payment of reparations” had a legal basis.

Berlin position

Germany rejects all claims of Poland. As the head of the Center for German Studies at the Institute of Europe, Vladislav Belov, explained, in Berlin they consider this question closed and are not going to return to it.

  • President of Poland Andrzej Duda
  • © Kay Nietfeld / dpa

“Germany’s position is tough and unambiguous, it believes that the issue is closed and it will not be discussed, since Poland in the 1950s received part of East Prussia and signed the agreement,” the expert said.

We are talking about an agreement from 1953, according to which Warsaw refused any claims to Germany. However, the official Poland ignores this argument, considering that it concerned only the German Democratic Republic and the Polish People's Republic - now non-existent countries. In addition, Warsaw claims that the Soviet Union forced it to abandon reparations.

Berlin’s point of view is also supported by the agreements that Poland signed in the early 1990s with already united Germany, said Vadim Trukhachev, Ph.D.

“The issue of reparations for damage caused to the republic during the Second World War was closed in the early 1950s, and in the early 1990s, united Germany signed a border treaty with Poland,” he said.

Irreparable damage

According to a report prepared by the Polish War Reparations Bureau in 1947, as a result of Germany’s actions, Poland lost 6 million of its citizens, of which more than 600 thousand died directly during the hostilities and the rest during the occupation. This number includes almost 3 million Jews. The population of the Polish Republic in 1939 was about 34 million people.

Germany pursued a deliberate policy to destroy the Polish culture and education. Thousands of representatives of the Polish intelligentsia were the victims of the actions of the invaders. During the war years, about 43% of the entire educational and research infrastructure of the country, as well as 14% of museums, were destroyed.

Almost 3 million Poles were taken to work in Germany. In Poland, the Nazi leadership sent 700,000 German colonists, who received commercial and industrial facilities and agricultural land from the occupation authorities.

As a result of the hostilities and the unsuccessful uprising undertaken by the Polish Home Army in 1944, 85% of the buildings in Warsaw were destroyed. The historical center of the city turned out to be practically obliterated.

  • German soldiers during the suppression of the Warsaw Uprising in September 1944
  • © Bundesarchiv

The question of reparations to Poland was decided in 1945 at the Potsdam Conference. Then the participants of the anti-Hitler coalition came to the agreement that Warsaw would receive compensation from the share of the USSR, which came from the eastern part of Germany. In 1953, Warsaw refused further claims for payments from the GDR.

For internal use

According to Vladislav Belov, in this matter Poland is guided solely by vested interests. Warsaw seriously believes that she will be able to get certain funds from Berlin, the analyst believes.

In turn, Vadim Trukhachev believes that, by raising the issue of reparations, the current Polish authorities are also trying to solve internal political problems.

“The party of Jaroslaw Kaczynski, who is now in power in Poland, has made historical speculation the center of his policy in order to divert the attention of Polish voters from current problems. At the moment, historical issues are closed, but Polish politicians prefer to raise them, ”said the expert.

In the foreseeable future, Poland will not abandon this idea, says Belov. At the same time, he pointed out that constantly organizing an audit of the outcome of the Second World War is a dangerous path.

“In the near future, Poland will not close this question, it will protest and constantly put pressure on Germany,” said the expert. “The agreements can be reviewed indefinitely, but in this case, the events that occurred at the beginning of the last century will be repeated.”

The theme of reparations can become a thing of the past only with the opposition coming to power in Poland, noted Trukhachev. However, until this happens, Warsaw will continue the current course, regularly raising this issue at various meetings in the EU, but will receive a refusal every time.

Source: russiart

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