If Germany Wants to Set an Example to Russia on Ukraine War, it Can Start by Paying Reparations For WW2, Says Poland

A group of Jewish civilians being held at gunpoint by German SS troops after being forced
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Poland has reiterated its claim on €1.3 trillion ($1.4tn) in damages caused by Germany’s invasion and occupation of its territory during the Second World War while making comparisons to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine that Berlin will likely find uncomfortable and has so far seemingly tried to ignore.

Germany should lead by example on the Ukraine war and settle accounts with neighbouring Poland, which it invaded and occupied between 1939 and 1945, causing terrible harm and subjecting the nation to the Holocaust, Polish Secretary of State for Europe Arkadiusz Mularczyk has said.

Mularczyk said Germany is one of the world’s strongest economies, is a top player in the European Union, and has an “unavoidable obligation” to lead the way by setting an example to Russia.

He said in a statement seen by Breitbart London that Germany “has an unavoidable obligation to set an example of how a modern, democratic country should help to resolve conflict; but this latest act sets a perfect example to Russia on how to behave as regards Ukraine.”

The Polish minister repeated his previous claims that Germany was outright blocking any discussion of the matter, with its ambassadors allegedly having been ordered not to engage in dialogue about World War II reparations at all. Mularczyk said: “Instead of ignoring a difficult, unresolved past, Germany should sit down with Poland and finally address issues of asymmetry of treatment, compensation, and resolution.”

“Poland has exhausted almost all international possibilities to get Germany to the negotiating table; German policy is simply to willfully ignore the harm it has caused, still being felt by victims today.”

While Poland has been talking about the enormous damage done to the country by Germany’s 1939 invasion and the need to pay reparations in recompense for years, those demands solidified with the publication of a major report in 2022 which calculated the cost for the first time, putting the price tag at €1.3 trillion.

A formal demand was delivered to the German foreign ministry, and requested beyond the matter of money that Germany also work with Poland on looted artworks — many taken from Polish Jewish families — and educate Germans on what the country did to Poland.  The question of reparations has come into the sharpest focus yet with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which has seen inevitable questions of Russia paying for Ukraine’s rebuilding after hostilities cease.

After the Second World War, both Poland and Germany were occupied by Russia and were absorbed into the Soviet Union. It was during this Cold War occupation that Moscow required the two countries to come to a 1953 declaration that there would be no reparations from Germany to Poland. It is on this Communist-era pronouncement that Germany now relies upon for their position that it owes Poland nothing.

German Foreign Minister Annalena Bearbock — who has reportedly lobbied for Russian assets to be seised as reparations to help rebuild Ukraine — said in Warsaw in 2022 that the issue is “closed from the perspective of the German government.” Poland, on the other hand, rejects the Moscow-brokered Soviet document as legitimate and insists the claim is valid.

A new dimension in this disagreement may open if other countries that were also invaded by Germany join together to force the matter. Mularczyk has said Greece’s “legal and political circles are watching Poland’s actions with interest. They see an opportunity for joint action and cooperation.”

The scale of destruction inflicted on Poland during the Second World War was immense. According to the Polish government’s own reckoning, German forces during the occupation killed over five million Poles and sent over two million abroad for slave labour. Almost 200,000 children were abducted with only a small minority ever returned.

Editor’s note 25/07/23: This article was edited for clarity


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