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Germany must pay WWII reparations to Poland: Greek ex-president

13.06.2023 19:00
Germany must pay compensation to the countries it assaulted during World War II, such as Poland and Greece, as apologies are not enough, a former president of Greece has said.
Former Greek President Prokopios Pavlopoulos speaks at an international conference co-organised by the Polish government on ways to seek compensation from Germany for World War II, in Athens on Tuesday, June 13, 2023.
Former Greek President Prokopios Pavlopoulos speaks at an international conference co-organised by the Polish government on ways to seek compensation from Germany for World War II, in Athens on Tuesday, June 13, 2023. Twitter/Arkadiusz Mularczyk

Prokopios Pavlopoulos made the statement at an international conference in Athens on Tuesday, Polish state news agency PAP reported.

Entitled Post-Conflict Justice: Opening Legal Paths, the event was organised by the Polish government and the European Public Law Organization (EPLO), according to officials. 

'Berlin must pay reparations'

Pavlopoulos told the gathering: “Germany makes a lot of apologies for what it did during World War II, but that’s not enough. Berlin must pay reparations.”

The former Greek president noted that both his country and Poland had officially demanded reparations from Germany for World War II.

He added that Greece was pushing for Germany to “repay a loan that it had coerced out of the Greek central bank” during the war, as well as to satisfy the claims of individual victims. 

Pavlopoulos, who served as Greece’s president from 2015 to 2020, said: “Germany confirmed its obligations by paying the first instalments of the loan before the end of World War II. Yet after Germany’s capitulation in 1945, an enormous part of the loan was never repaid.”

Paying tribute to individual victims of German atrocities, Pavlopoulos mentioned the 1944 Nazi German massacre of the central Greek town of Distomo, in which more than 200 civilians were killed, as well as the crimes perpetrated by German forces in Poland and Italy. 

The descendants of the Distomo victims are still seeking their rights, despite favourable rulings from Greek courts, the PAP news agency reported.

Pavlopoulos called on Germany “to take responsibility for its deeds.”

He also told the conference that politics was “the art of doing what’s possible.”

'Justice needs to be served'

The former Greek president said it was “possible” that the issue of reparations could be brought “before an international tribunal in the immediate future," according to the PAP news agency.

Pavlopoulos stated: "Poland and Greece have the right to compensation. Justice needs to be served.”

Pavlopoulos added that the International Criminal Court (ICC), based in the Hague, the Netherlands, was best equipped to settle the issue of reparations for World War II, the PAP news agency reported. 

The former Greek president cautioned, as quoted by the Polish state news agency: “We are facing a powerful country. As we seek compensation for World War II, we may be subjected to intimidation, but we believe our claims are just.”

Pavlopoulos added: “German authorities are very sensitive about the rule of law, but when it comes to complying with the law themselves, they say it’s an issue that belongs in the past.”

The Athens conference on post-conflict justice brought together politicians, lawyers and academics from Poland, Greece, Italy and Serbia, including Polish Deputy Foreign Minister Arkadiusz Mularczyk, news outlets reported.

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, tysol.pl, eplo.int