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Warsaw urges Berlin to commemorate Polish WWII victims

23.05.2023 22:00
The Polish government has called on German politicians to commemorate Polish victims of World War II and hold talks about compensating Poland for wartime losses, a deputy foreign minister has said. 
Polands Deputy Foreign Minister Arkadiusz Mularczyk.
Poland's Deputy Foreign Minister Arkadiusz Mularczyk.PAP/Marcin Obara

Arkadiusz Mularczyk announced the move in an interview with Poland's PAP news agency on Tuesday, a day after he visited Berlin for talks with German politicians.

Germany urged to 'step up work' on memorial to Polish WWII victims

Commenting on his trip, Mularczyk told the PAP news agency: “During meetings with German parliamentarians, we raised the issue of a memorial to Polish victims of German occupation that is due to be built in Berlin.”

He added: “While discussing compensation and redress for the war, we mentioned the fact that the project to build the memorial has been progressing very slowly, if at all.”

Mularczyk said: “We pointed out to the German side that besides holding talks about compensation for the war, it is important to commemorate Polish victims.”

He told the Polish state news agency that he had invited German Culture Minister Claudia Roth for talks at the Polish foreign ministry during her upcoming visit to Poland.

Mularczyk stated: “Hopefully, thanks to our diplomatic efforts and our appeal to Germany to exercise greater empathy towards the Polish side, the Germans will step up work on the design and construction of this memorial.”

'Shock and astonishment’

Asked about "the response in Germany to Poland’s awareness-raising campaign about the damage caused by World War II," Mularczyk said: “It’s mainly shock and astonishment because many people have absolutely no idea about what the German aggression and occupation was like. Especially among German people the level of knowledge is relatively meagre.”

He added that Poland’s information drive was designed to exert “moral pressure” on German politicians who believe that the issue of compensation for World War II “has long been settled.” 

Mularczyk said: “We demonstrate to them that this is not the case. There hasn’t been any bilateral agreement between Polish and Germany, setting the issue of the war. Polish citizens have no way of pursuing compensation claims through the courts.”

‘Concrete proposals' for 'joint projects'

He continued: "Poland has been highlighting the issue of compensation for World War II for many months and … concrete proposals are now being put forward for possible joint projects and investments.”

He further stated: “In my view, our months-long hard work is bringing tangible results in the form of more and more concrete proposals for cooperation in this field.”

Mularczyk said that Poland’s diplomatic efforts were "not restricted to Germany, but spanned the world."

“Germany has also been receiving information from around the world, especially from the United States, which cares about unity along the Warsaw-Berlin-Washington axis,” he added.

German discourse on WWII ‘lacks appreciation of Polish experience’: historian

Meanwhile, Thomas Weber, a German historian affiliated with the University of Aberdeen, Scotland, has said that “a large majority of the German public supported World War II right to the end,” according to a report.

During an event to mark the anniversary of the end of World War II earlier this month, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said that “on May 8, 1945, Germany and the world were liberated from Nazism,” according to Poland's tvp.info news website.

Weber commented that Scholz’s statement sounded “peculiar” because “support for the war was widespread among German people,” tvp.info reported.

The German historian added, however, that Scholz “didn’t necessarily imply that almost all Germans opposed the Nazis,” according to tvp.info.

He was also cited as saying that the discourse in his country “clearly lacked an appreciation of the Polish experience of World War II.”

Weber said, as quoted by tvp.info: “There is constant talk about how we must learn the lessons from the past and ensure that the war never happens again, and so we must never stand against Russia and so on.”

“But there is a lack of a similar approach to Poland and Ukraine,” he added, according to tvp.info. 

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.  


Source: PAP, tvp.info