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Anniversary of the beginning of the war: Poland feels discriminated against during World War II reparations


TIME ONLINE | News, backgrounds and debates

Warsaw (dpa) - Shortly before the 80th anniversary of the beginning of the Second World War, Poland complains that it had been significantly disadvantaged in the German reparations payments.

Polish Foreign Minister Jacek Czaputowicz said in an interview with the German Press Agency that compensation for the countries attacked by Germany was "lacking in fundamental fairness". "Poland has been discriminated against in this process."

Although Poland suffered particularly badly from the invaders and occupiers of the Nazi regime, the share of the compensation payments was "minimal". "There are countries that have lost many times less but have received more compensation, is that alright?" Czaputowicz asked. "The key question is whether Poland has been treated fairly compared to other states." He expressly named France and the Netherlands.

In World War II, Poland had more deaths than any other country in terms of total population. Five to six million Poles lost their lives - and about one in six. The degree of destruction caused by the Nazi extermination warfare was also comparatively high. The capital, Warsaw, was almost completely razed to the ground before the withdrawal of the Wehrmacht.

The right-wing conservative PiS party has put the topic of compensation back on the agenda after the 2015 takeover. According to earlier Polish calculations, the damage caused by Germany war damage amount to about 800 billion euros. A Polish parliamentary commission has just completed a new report, but it is not yet clear when it will be published. On October 13, parliamentary elections will take place in Poland.

On 1 September, Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier will travel to Warsaw and Wielun to commemorate the attack on Poland, which was the first Polish city to be bombed by German invaders.

A few days before the anniversary, Czaputowicz expresses himself very clearly on the subject. "In Poland there is the conviction that Germany has put pressure on us in the early 1990s not to raise this issue, so we return to the subject now."

Germany considers the topic legally and politically conclusive with the 1990 Two-plus-Four Treaty on the Foreign Policy Consequences of German Unity. An opinion of the German Government's Scientific Service recently came to the conclusion that Poland is no longer entitled to any compensation. Among other things, this is justified by the fact that Poland waived 1953 on reparations. Poland, on the other hand, argues that this statement was made under Soviet pressure and unconstitutional.

Whether Poland would ultimately be prepared to take legal action, said Czaputowicz not. "It's too early to discuss it, the courts are only concerned with legal aspects of the matter, but morality and fairness also have a role to play in this situation," said the Foreign Minister. "To have a good understanding between our countries is that the Poles feel they are treated fairly."

The Polish government also wants to wait and see how Germany deals with Greek reparations claims. The now out-elected left-wing government under Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras had officially called on the Federal Government to negotiate reparations by diplomatic note. There is no answer yet. Next week, the new, conservative Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis wants to come to Berlin. "We will see how Germany handles the claims of Greece, but we are not talking to Greece about this issue," Czaputowicz said.

Czaputowicz on the side of the Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Federal Agency for Civic Education on reparations

Source: zeit

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