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Polish deputy PM accuses Germany of refusing to help recover art stolen in WWII: report

15.06.2023 15:30
A Polish deputy prime minister has accused the German government of failing to keep its promise of helping Poland recover artwork looted by Nazi Germany during World War II, according to a report.
Polands Deputy Prime Minister and Culture Minister Piotr Gliński.
Poland's Deputy Prime Minister and Culture Minister Piotr Gliński.PAP/Mateusz Marek

Piotr Gliński made the comment in a radio interview earlier this week, the tvrepublika.pl website reported.

It said the Polish deputy prime minister was asked by regional broadcaster Radio Gdańsk about his recent meeting with his German counterpart Claudia Roth.

Gliński, who is also Poland’s culture minister, spoke to Roth about the recovery of Polish art stolen during World War II and the need for Germany to redress the damage it inflicted on Poland decades ago, according to officials.

Germany 'doing nothing to facilitate recovery' of Polish art 

Gliński told Radio Gdańsk: “The German government is doing nothing to facilitate the recovery of what they had stolen. Under German law, there is in effect a statute of limitations on such crimes. After 30 years, someone who possesses something acquired in good faith, is entitled to become its owner, even if the object in question was stolen.”

Gliński said: “This is rogue legislation and it is incompatible with European Union directives. Even though Germany’s three co-governing parties pledged in their coalition agreement that they would seek to change it, nothing is happening.”

According to Gliński, Germany's Roth said "the issue of recovery of stolen works of culture falls in the remit of a different ministry.”

'An arrogant attitude’

Gliński added: “Moreover, when I said it was high time Germany did more to help return looted art, Minister Roth mentioned the return of German art from Poland. I won’t comment on this. But I believe that such is the state of our relations with Germany. The German government maintains an arrogant attitude to these issues and looks for symmetry.”

Compensation for WWII, memorial to Polish victims

Gliński told Radio Gdańsk he had also spoken to Roth about Poland’s wartime losses caused by Germany, and "the amount of due reparations, detailed in a recent report."

He said: “These two topics filled our hourlong meeting, although there was no sensible response from the other side. We haven’t even begun to discuss the planned memorial to Polish victims of World War II. When I offered to extend our meeting for five minutes, so that we could exchange positions, I was told that it’s not possible due to time constraints.”

Gliński argued that "Berlin already has several monuments to World War II victims of various nationalities, but none commemorating Polish victims," tvrepublika.pl reported.

'Astonishing and disconcerting' approach to history

The Polish deputy prime minister said: “The latest idea of Germany’s ruling coalition is to create a German-Polish House that would showcase the thousand years of bilateral relations.”

He added: “I was told by Minister Roth that the six-year period of World War II must not be allowed to overshadow the thousand-year Polish-German relationship.”

“Such an approach to the interpretation of history is astonishing and disconcerting,” Gliński also said in the interview, as quoted by tvrepublika.pl.

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: tvrepublika.pl, wpolityce.pl