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Poland intensifies push for WWII damages from Germany

19.05.2023 19:30
A Polish deputy foreign minister has said that a declaration adopted this week by the Council of Europe and signed by Germany, stating that “no statutes of limitation apply to war crimes,” will help Warsaw’s intensifying bid to secure compensation for World War II from Berlin.
Arkadiusz Mularczyk
Arkadiusz MularczykPAP/Piotr Nowak

Arkadiusz Mularczyk made the statement at a news conference in the Polish capital on Friday, state news agency PAP reported.

He noted that during a summit in Reykjavík, Iceland, earlier this week, the Council of Europe established the "Register of Damage Caused by the Aggression of the Russian Federation Against Ukraine."

Based in the Hague, the Netherlands, it will document "damage, loss or injury caused by the Russian aggression against Ukraine," according to officials.

‘No statutes of limitations apply to war crimes’

Mularczyk told reporters that, thanks to the efforts of the Polish delegation, the summit’s final document, the Reykjavík Declaration, said that “no statutes of limitation apply to genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.”

The document also stated that “only by respecting the right to truth, to justice, to reparation and to guarantees of non-repetition will it be possible to overcome the past and create solid foundations to build unity in the spirit of harmony and cooperation with respect for human rights, democracy and the rule of law."

‘A template for all countries that suffered from aggression

Mularczyk told reporters: “This means that all the countries that signed this declaration, including Germany represented by Chancellor Olaf Scholz, unequivocally confirm that there are no statutes of limitation on war crimes.”

He added: “Furthermore, overcoming a difficult past, caused by conflicts, including World War II, must entail the right to justice and to the payment of war reparations.”

According to Mularczyk, the Reykjavík Declaration “not only reaffirms Europe’s unity and solidarity in the face of Russian aggression, but also sets a template for all other countries that suffered from aggression.”

Campaign in Germany to raise awareness about Poland’s WWII losses

Mularczyk argued that the Council of Europe document “creates serious opportunities for Poland and other countries that were the victims of World War II as a result of German aggression and occupation.”

He announced that Poland would launch an information campaign in Germany to raise awareness about Poland’s wartime losses caused by Germany, "but also about the fact that Chancellor Scholz signed the Reykjavík Declaration," the PAP news agency reported. 

Mularczyk told reporters he would visit Berlin on May 22 for talks with German lawmakers about “reparations for World War II and the fact that there are no statutes of limitation on reparation claims."

Poland demands WWII damages from Germany

In April, Poland’s government adopted a resolution “on the need to regulate, in Polish-German relations, the issue of reparations, compensation and redress” for the losses caused by the German invasion and subsequent occupation of Poland during World War II.

The government said that the document “confirms that the issue of compensation for the damage and harm caused by Germany during World War II has not been settled in the form of an international agreement between the Republic of Poland and the Federal Republic of Germany, and that such an agreement must be entered into.”

In September last year, the Polish government announced that the losses suffered by Poland at the hands of Nazi Germany during World War II totalled PLN 6.22 trillion (EUR 1.3 trillion) and that it would demand compensation from Berlin.

In October, Polish Foreign Minister Zbigniew Rau signed a formal note to the government in Berlin, demanding compensation for losses Poland sustained during the war.

According to the German government, "the issue of reparations and compensation for World War II losses remains closed” and Berlin "does not intend to enter into negotiations on the matter," officials have said.

The Council of Europe is an international organisation that brings together 46 countries aiming to uphold democracy, human rights and the rule of law in Europe.


Source: PAP, dziennik.pl, Reykjavík Declaration