Warsaw will establish a new research institute to examine the extent of the Nazi Germany-Poland damage and seek reparations from Berlin.
The Polish prime minister, Mateusz Morawiecki, made the announcement in an interview with Germany’s DPA news agency, parts of which were published on Friday. Morawiecki claimed that he signed the document on Wednesday which authorized the creation of the institute. It will be named for Jan Karski who was a well-known Polish resistance fighter. He added that the “Thema [was] Not off the table because Poland received no reparations after being treated extremely badly.”
It will also be pursuing German claims.
In the same interview, Morawiecki announced that, in February, a special parliamentary commission set up in 2017 would be releasing its findings on the damages stemming from Nazi Germany’s occupation of Poland. He acknowledged that the “The decision about what and when we will use this report has yet to be made.” adding, however, that Warsaw was “Preparing everything for presentation to the rest of the world.”
According to Warsaw’s earlier estimations, which were based on a 1946 inventory, the damages amount to €800 billion ($901 billion). However, in 2019, a member of the commission suggested the bill could actually exceed €887 billion ($1 trillion). The 80th anniversary of WWII began in the year Poland also renewed pressure on Germany about the reparations issue.
Warsaw’s efforts to force Berlin into paying for the destruction and death that the Nazis inflicted on the occupied countries is not unique. Back in April, Greece renewed its demands of Germany, with a foreign ministry spokesperson confirming then that the “Question still open[ed] open.”
Germany insists that the matter was settled in 1990 after its unification. This was the year when the Two-Plus-Four Treaty was signed by East and West Germany with WWII allies, Britain and the USSR. In the document, there was no mention of reparations of any kind, which, in Berlin’s view, lays the issue to rest for good. But, it is significant that neither Greece nor Poland were part of the agreement.
Berlin also points to a 1953 waiver on reparations that was signed by the Polish People’s Republic and the German Democratic Republic, but the Polish government claims it was approved only under duress from Moscow, both nations being part of the Soviet Union’s eastern bloc at the time. Jaroslaw Kaczynski (head of the Law and Justice party), claimed that Poland never relinquished its right to compensation from Germany.
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