Poland tries to rekindle the debate on war reparations by Germany

Poland wants to “negotiate” with Berlin reparations for World War II losses, which it estimates at 1,300 billion euros
The leader of the ruling Law and Justice party, Jaroslaw Kaczynski, on September 1, 2022, in Warsaw, during a ceremony marking the start of the Second World War.

“Poland did NOT renounce German war reparations”, headlined, in this week of commemoration of the 83e anniversary of the invasion of Poland by Hitler’s Germany (1er September 1939) and the beginning of the Second World War, the main Polish pro-government weekly wSieci, official voice of the national-conservative Law and Justice (PiS) party. Thursday 1er September a report was presented assessing the cost of the material, human, military and territorial damage inflicted by Germany on Poland during the conflict and the German occupation. According to the three-volume document, unveiled in the presence of the highest government officials during a ceremony at the Royal Castle in Warsaw, partially destroyed during the war, these cumulative costs would amount to 6,200 billion zlotys (1,300 billion euro).

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“This day is not only a presentation of certain works, we also decide to raise this business on the international scene. This is our goal, insisted, during his speech, the leader of the ruling majority, Jaroslaw Kaczynski. We know that we are taking a long and difficult road, and we do not expect quick success. » The country’s strongman felt that if “some countries have received adequate reparations, Germany has never been held accountable for its crimes against Poland”. He added that the sum advanced in the report seemed to him “completely bearable for the German economy”.

Read also: Poland reopens debate over demand for war reparations from Germany

“Beyond the direct losses, Poland also lost its chances of developmentadded the head of government, Mateusz Morawiecki. The economy as a whole and the state could not develop. The death of more than 5 million people (…) cannot be compensated, but we have a duty to count these losses and present the bill to those who are guilty. » The report tends to demonstrate that Poland has lagged behind in structural development, due to “the systematic extermination of the elites” and the loss of sovereignty caused by the war.

Anti-German rhetoric

In Germany, the question was curtly evacuated by the government. “The position of the federal government has not changed, the question of reparations is closed, said a Foreign Ministry spokesman. Poland waived further reparations a long time ago, in 1953, and has confirmed this waiver on several occasions,” he specified. At the end of the Potsdam conference (1945), the Soviet Union undertook to pay Poland 15% of the reparations paid by Germany. Most historians agree on the fact that Poland came out the loser of this agreement, including the obligation to deliver coal in exchange to the USSR at preferential prices. In 1953, the communist leader Boleslaw Bierut had renounced, under pressure from the Soviet ally, all forms of reparations “in the name of the interests of peaceful development” in the Eastern bloc. This episode still arouses lively debates in Poland and is not recognized by the ultra-conservative right.

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