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Germany paid reparations to all occupied countries except Poland

Prof. Musiał: The path to reparations from Germany is open. Berlin knows this.

Germany has signed reparations and compensation agreements with all the countries it occupied. They paid money everywhere, the exception is Poland – says historian, prof. Bogdan Musiał in an interview with the DoRzeczy.pl portal.

Prof. Bogdan Musiał: For me – although I think not only for me but probably for all Poles – the most important thing was the issue of reparations. Prime Minister Tusk said that for the current government, the issue of reparations is de facto closed. However here a certain loophole was left by the head of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Radosław Sikorski, who said that Poland deserves some compensation from Germany, which is why Poland will ask Germany to handle this matter. We have reduced ourselves to the role of petitioners in this matter, which is sad and a mistake.

Why?

We don’t have to ask. We have the right to demand, and additionally, we can take legal action to demand, payment of reparations as compensation. It is worth pointing out that German courts in the 1950s and 1960s “secondarily” legalized crimes against Poles, e.g. in Auschwitz, where the Germans shot Poles based on “sentences” of police summary courts at the death wall. German courts secondarily approved and legitimized this crime. This is not talked about at all, but the rehabilitation of these murdered people is necessary.

However, if those murdered are rehabilitated, the second priority is compensation. This is written in the German Criminal Code. If we have unlawful judgments, and this was the case, then their victims or their descendants, because it is hereditary, are entitled to compensation in this respect. These debts can be challenged in German courts. However, no one cared about it, even though it would be the beginning of the road to reparations, because the scale of German judicial crimes during World War II was huge, and German courts later legalized it after the war.

Can we understand that since the topic is closed for Poland, the Polish government is only asking, then Germany will probably not do anything about it?

Not necessarily. I believe that Germany will do something. The public debate raises the question of contributing to the reconstruction of the Saxon Palace. Only in this case, I ask: if the Germans want to contribute to the reconstruction, why don’t they want to pay for the destruction of the entire Warsaw? How was the destruction of the Saxon Palace different from other buildings that were deliberately destroyed by German sappers? What is also important here is the fact that Germany has signed reparations and compensation agreements with all the countries it occupied. They paid money everywhere, the exception being Poland. The Germans know it perfectly well that what they paid to others in the 1950s and 1970s, today they would have to pay triple to Poland for the scale of their crimes. Additionally, we know from their internal documents that they are aware of this.

Are we talking about documents from the highest levels?

Yes. This was not written by an ordinary official. In August 1970, an internal inter-ministerial meeting on this matter was held. The ministers and undersecretaries of state from the ministries of economy, foreign affairs, and interior got acquainted with them and came to the conclusion that there was no possibility for Germany not to pay compensation to Poland. However, the then-German Chancellor Willy Brandt arranged with Moscow so that Poland would stop demanding reparations. It happened. Gomułka was ordered not to fool around and not to make any demands for reparations. Then the case was banned for Gierek by the Kremlin, or more precisely, Andropov blocked the reparations by the KGB. Unfortunately, after the fall of communism, no Polish government dared to raise this issue until 2022.

Has the topic been closed?

Donald Tusk and Radosław Sikorski know perfectly well that they must waive reparations in writing, in a bilateral agreement. I don’t think they will. This opens the way to fight for reparations in the future.

The original text in Polish was published here: https://dorzeczy.pl/opinie/549615/prof-musial-droga-do-reparacji-od-niemiec-jest-ciagle-otwarta.html

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