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Polish culture minister urges Germany to pay WWII damages

01.09.2023 14:30
Poland's culture minister on Friday reiterated his country's call on Germany to pay war reparations as officials marked 84 years since the start of World War II.
Reconstruction of the Polish capital Warsaw after World War II.
Reconstruction of the Polish capital Warsaw after World War II. Public Domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Piotr Gliński made the appeal at an anniversary ceremony in Warsaw, Polish state news agency PAP reported.

He noted that World War II, started by Nazi Germany 84 years ago, claimed the lives of some 6 million Polish citizens.

Poland also suffered enormous damage, including to culture, during the war, which lasted from 1939 to 1945, Gliński said during the ceremony in the Polish capital’s Piłsudski Square.

'We are renewing our call'

The culture minister renewed an appeal by Poland's governing conservatives for war reparations from Germany, the PAP news agency reported.

He said: “Today, on the anniversary of the start of World War II by Germany, we are renewing our call on the German state to pay compensation to Poland and the Polish people.”

He added: “It was a total war … The Germans went about systematically destroying the material and spiritual basis of the Polish nation, to annihilate Poland.”

Gliński told the gathering that the Nazi Germans demolished some 80 percent of buildings in Warsaw during the war and that the Polish government was still in the process of rebuilding landmark sites in the capital, such as the Saski Palace, the Brühl Palace and residential buildings on Królewska Street.

Warsaw wants Berlin to 'engage in honest dialogue’: deputy FM

Meanwhile, Deputy Foreign Minister Arkadiusz Mularczyk, who is in charge of Poland’s push for World War II reparations from Germany, vowed to continue his efforts until Berlin “engages in honest dialogue” about compensating Poland for the damage. 

In an article for the Polska daily newspaper, published on Friday, Mularczyk wrote: “In order to highlight the need to resolve the issue of reparations, compensation and redress from Germany, I held numerous meetings with officials from many countries, and brought up the matter domestically and internationally.”

He added: “These efforts will continue until Germany engages in an honest dialogue with Poland about the payment of compensation” for World War II, the PAP news agency reported.

'Serious image problem' for Germany

In an interview with the PAP news agency on Friday, Mularczyk said that, thanks to an "awareness-raising campaign on the international stage," the "reparations issue is now widely known" and "poses a serious image problem” for Germany.

Poland expects ‘constructive dialogue’: presidential aide

Marcin Przydacz, a senior foreign-policy aide to Polish President Andrzej Duda, argued that "the issue of compensation for World War II isn’t closed, contrary to the claims of German officials.”

Speaking at a ceremony to mark 84 years since the outbreak of World War II in the central city of Wieluń, Przydacz said that Poland did not expect Germany “to pay out war reparations overnight,” but to “engage in a constructive discussion” on the issue.

Przydacz noted that local councillors in Wieluń, the first Polish target of the German attack on September 1, 1939, and the southern town of Bochnia, earlier this week passed resolutions in support of the Polish government’s claim for war reparations from Berlin.

He said that such initiatives “boosted Poland’s voice on the international stage” and encouraged more Polish towns and cities to enact similar declarations in the future, public broadcaster Polish Radio’s IAR news agency reported.

Warsaw demands WWII damages from Berlin

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 Polish government said 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.


Source: PAP, polskieradio24.pl