The Nazi slogan "Arbeit macht frei" (Work sets you free) is pictured at the gates of the former Nazi German concentration and extermination camp Auschwitz-Birkenau in Oswiecim, Poland January 27, 2017..
(photo credit: AGENCY GAZETA/KUBA OCIEPA/VIA REUTERS)
Polish seijm [parliament] member Krystyna Pawlowicz, of the ruling Law and Justice Party (PIS) recently expressed her hope on Facebook that Poland will be successful in wining compensations from Germany for the horrors of the Nazi occupation of her country during the Second World War.
Pawlowicz said she regretted that Poland doesn’t have legal experts who are skillful in this sort of project and claimed that while Poland has legal scholars they wouldn’t want to risk their EU funding, which she claimed originates from Germany.
Ergo, she suggested, “let us turn immediately, today, to the best Jewish, American [sic] legal firms to get consultation on the issue of Polish claims from Germany.”
She’s not the only one in Poland who believes Germany owes Poland war reparations. Telewizja Repulika, a Polish television channel, ran a story covering this issue
with a special graphic on the webpage, imitating the gate of Auschwitz with the caption: “”Reparation sets you free” instead of the infamous “Work sets you free” [Arbeit macht frei].
While Poles were never seen by the Nazis as a people who must be destroyed like the Jews, the Nazis were certain that the Poles should be confined to the role of an illiterate slave race, with their history and culture forgotten and forbidden.
Around three million non-Jewish Poles were killed by the Nazis. It’s often mentioned that this number is equal to the number of Jewish citizens of Poland killed in the Holocaust. Leading some to mistake the similarity in numbers as a similarity of the very different historical realities of Jewish-Poles and non-Jewish Poles under the Nazis, one marked for destruction, and the other to a life of slavery to a ‘’Master-Race.”
The Auschwitz Museum expressed anger at the “primitive manipulation of painful symbols“ and suggested that the creators of the graphics lack any understanding of history. The television channel removed the graphic from its twitter account but not from its website.
The Polish People ’s Republic [RPL] declined to accept war reparations from Western Germany in 1953.
Some Polish legal experts argue the validity of that decision in light of the collapse of the Republic in 1989 and the subsequent establishment of democratic Poland.
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