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'Germany can't continue to ignore Polish pleas for war reparations': The Spectator

21.06.2023 23:55
The latest issue of the British magazine The Spectator carries an in-depth article by Georgia L Gilholy, a columnist for Conservative Home, about the issue of reparations that Greece and Poland are seeking from Germany for World War II damage.
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Gilholy argues that "Poland has done its best to back up and publicise its claims against Germany," saying that "the ball is now firmly in the court of Berlin."

Referring to last week's conference of lawyers in Athens that was devoted to the issue, Gilholy describes it asthe culmination of a coordinated six-year effort to open up direct avenues of inquiry with the German government regarding Nazi-era reparations,” saying that “Berlin has frequently indulged in international lectures on topics ranging from Brexit to beef, but it is quieter on this uncomfortable subject.”

'Polish government did not collaborate with Nazis or Soviets'

The Spectator writes: “The Polish government did not collaborate with the Nazis or the Soviets, and almost six million Poles died as a result of these occupations. Completed between 2017 and 2022, the Polish government’s research into the impact of the Second World War on Poland’s development is the most comprehensive research of its kind. It will provide a blueprint for pursuing Ukraine’s grievances in the coming years. The report found that the material cost of the occupation was the equivalent of a trillion pounds, not to mention the irreplaceable theft of human potential.”

'Polish people never renounced claims to reparations'

The British magazine continues: “In April, Poland’s council of ministers adopted a resolution to affirm that the country had never received reparations from Germany for their brutal occupation. German ministers have been clear: the matter is settled. But Berlin’s attempt to close the book on this issue is based on a shameful misreading of history. The Polish people never renounced its claims to reparations, nor has it already received compensation.”

Explaining the political realities of the shape of post-World War II Europe, The Spectator writes: “Those who take umbrage with Warsaw often suggest that Germany’s relinquishing of several territories to Poland in 1945 were adequate recompense for the horrors of war. Germany signed an unconditional surrender with the Allied powers who then chose to grant part of former German lands from the Oder River to Pomerania to Poland.

"These decisions were agreed at the Yalta, Tehran and Potsdam conferences as partial compensation for lands removed from Poland by the USSR in Lithuania, Belarus and Ukraine. Poland was not represented at these talks, and the land swap amounted to a poorly-veiled ploy by Stalin to further distance the West from his centre of power in Moscow. No honest historian could take this seriously as a fair resolution to Poland’s suffering."

Jewish people ‘in different league’ to Poles when it comes to reparations?

Gilholy further says: “One British delegate [to the Athens conference] recounted to me in horror how a German official had privately suggested to him that Jewish people were ‘in a different league’ to Poles when it came to reparations. This bizarre remark is startlingly blinkered to the fact that many Holocaust victims and their families remain without recompense due to Germany’s bungled interactions with Warsaw, not in spite of them."

She writes: “By far the most moving part of last week’s conference came in its closing moments. Accompanied by a sombre soundtrack peppered with an ominous bell chime, we were shown a short CGI reconstruction of the post-apocalyptic streets of Warsaw in Spring 1945, panning over its broken bridges as the details of its dramatic population collapse rolled in place of credits.

"It reinforced the chilling truth that there are thousands of people now living in these once-ruined streets and across the world who no doubt still wake recoiling from nightmares of these horrors. These painful fissures of memory mark most Polish families in some way, and they are well within their rights to pursue some rectification."

The Spectator article argues: "Only in 2010 did Germany cease paying reparations to France for its 1914 invasion. Why is it too late for Poland?"


Source: thespectator.com, fronda.pl