Polish officials insist Germany should compensate their homeland for WW II

Having suffered heavily from Nazi brutality during World War II, many Poles argue that justice demands Germany extend further compensation.

By
August 22, 2019 12:58
2 minute read.
SURVIVORS AND guests walk past the barracks at Auschwitz, during the ceremonies marking the 73rd ann

SURVIVORS AND guests walk past the barracks at Auschwitz, during the ceremonies marking the 73rd anniversary of the liberation of the camp and International Holocaust Victims Remembrance Day, in Oswiecim, Poland, January 2018. (photo credit: KACPER PEMPEL/REUTERS)

Poland, which was invaded by both the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany at the start of WW II, intends to present German President Frank Walter Steinmeier with its view that Germany should reopen the issue of compensation for Poles when he visits Poland in September, the Sun reported.  


The German president will attend an official ceremony marking the 80th anniversary of Germany's attack on Wielun, the first Polish town the Nazi Luftwaffe struck with air raids on September 1, 1939. 
Some Law and Justice Party [PiS] members estimated that proper compensation would reach over $900 billion, since Poland suffered the murder of some six million citizens during the Holocaust - three million Jews and three million Catholic - and the near destruction of its capital Warsaw following the Polish uprising against Nazi rule. 


The German position is that the People’s Republic of Poland [PRL], the state which came into being at the war's end, agreed to waive compensation in 1953, as did the Soviet Union. 


The Right-Center ruling party of modern Poland - the democratic republic that came into being when the Socialist block exited the world stage - argues, however, that the Poland's decision of 1953 was heavily influenced by Moscow and should be re-examined. 


The Soviet ideological outlook, which dictated the policy for the entire Socialist bloc, was that the Communist and Socialist nations will rebuild themselves. These countries similarly declined to take part in the US Marshall Plan to rebuild Europe. 


Berlin has not been receptive to re-opening claims for Nazi era crimes, since it may also create a precedent, making Germany vulnerable to claims from other countries, like Greece.


Regarding the Hellenic republic, Germany's position is that compensation was paid in 1960 when it paid Athens DM 115 million, approximately $600 m. in today's currency.  


In April, the Greek parliament voted in favor of demanding further compensation from Germany; a parliamentary commission suggested in 2016 that such further compensation might reach $300 billion, according to The Independent.  


The issue of Poland's recent claims of reparations for lives and properties lost during the war is also tied to claims faced by the country for Jewish compensation


With Jewish groups in the US and Israel pushing for Warsaw to establish at least some ways for Jewish survivors to reclaim their former homes and family assets in Poland, which were nationalized under socialism, many Catholic Poles feel it’s unfair that Jewish people would be given what they view as preferential treatment. 


Jewish community assets such as synagogues and cemeteries, which were also nationalized by the Polish state in the PRL years, can be and were reclaimed by Poland's official Jewish community, which was re-established as a legal entity when socialism ended. 
   


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