“Poland paid ransom under the guise of obtaining reparations” – said prof. Bogdan Musiał during the Congress of National Remembrance organized in Warsaw by the Institute of National Remembrance. At the same time, he pointed out that Poland had no agreement with Germany regarding reparations, and that the only agreement to waive reparations was concluded between Germany and the USSR and Poland was not a party to it.
“In the Potsdam Agreement, to which Poland was not a party, there was a solution concerning Poland – it was provided that Poland would collect reparations through the USSR” – said Dr. Konrad Graczyk. “This mediation was spared all other members of the anti-Hitler coalition. Poland was supposed to collect these reparations through the USSR. Later, in subsequent agreements, their value was set at 15 percent. In the following months, years after World War II, this percentage was lowered, for which consent was forced on the Polish government. As part of collecting reparations from the eastern reparations mass, Poland received any benefits, but they were benefits in goods. These goods were different, of different quality, for example, in 1949 a significant percentage of reparations was 6 million classics of Marxism-Leninism printed in the GDR, motorcycles, chemicals, chemical reagents, various products were transferred from the GDR as reparations, but the whole agreement was burdened with the so-called compensation clause, or the coal clause, which made the whole regulation properly facade. That is, the USSR wrongly assumed that the eastern mass, i.e. the area of the GDR, which the Soviet Union had occupied, had been depleted by the so-called reclaimed lands. The value of the regained lands annexed to Poland and the Eastern Borderlands lost by Poland and annexed to the USSR was compared. The Soviets received the balance that they had lost and imposed a solution consisting in compensating for this difference in the form of coal supplies, which was extremely unfavorable for Poland” – he reminded. “One more thing is worth mentioning. In the area of the regained territories, Poland took over 2,000 German steam locomotives and their value was again deducted by the USSR and Poland had to pay for these 2,000 German locomotives as part of reparation settlements, which proves the superficiality of this solution at the time” – he added. “Among these locomotives were Polish locomotives which Deutsche Bahn appropriated, and we received, as reparations, and paid for them, Polish locomotives of the Polish State Railways” – added Dr. Krzysztof Rak.
“In 1946, the Polish side proposed to reduce the 15 percent to 7.5 percent. Not because the Poles were so generous, but because this annex was so unfavorable for Poland that in fact Poland was plundered by the Soviets under the guise of obtaining reparations. It was better for Poland to resign. According to Soviet calculations, Poland obtained USD 280 million, and for the coal that Poland had to provide in return, selling it on the market, it would obtain about USD 1 billion” – noted Prof. Bogdan Musiał, emphasizing that back then coal was really a wealth. “Poland paid ransom under the guise of obtaining reparations” – he concluded. At the same time, he pointed out that Poland had no agreement with Germany regarding reparations, and that the only agreement to waive reparations was concluded between Germany and the USSR and Poland was not a party to it. “The Soviet Union also renounced reparations on behalf of Poland. They could not renounce on our behalf. Besides, no document has been signed to this day, so in fact Poland has not renounced reparations neither to the Soviet Union nor to Germany” – he concluded, emphasizing that the statement (Bierut’s) is not a legal act. “There is no legal act, so Germany’s reference to this document is really ridiculous” – he concluded. “Germany has reparations agreements with all countries, with the exception of Poland” – the historian noted.
“Bierut’s statement from 1953 is a key document in the whole story we are talking about today. If I had to define it from a legal point of view, this statement of August 23, 1953 is an international unilateral act of waiver. The most important thing for this of the document is crucial, is whether it can function in international turnover. Prof. Jan Sandorski, who presented a full analysis of this statement, put forward a scientific thesis that it is invalid ab initio. Let us recall that in this statement the Bierut government on January 1, 1954, he renounces reparations and considers the case closed. From the legal point of view, Prof. Sandorski says that it is invalid ab initio, i.e. it had no legal effects from the beginning – because this declaration is affected by the defect of the declaration of intent, we cannot in any way respect. That is, whether someone succeeding invoked the fact that it confirms the resignation of the government of Bolesław Bierut, it does not matter in the slightest, because if something is invalid from the beginning, it cannot suddenly be valid” – said attorney Beata Komarnicka-Nowak.
“The German side, referring to why it does not want to pay reparations to Poland in its recent scientific studies, especially the scientific services of the Bundestag, when preparing a fairly extensive analysis, refers only to this statement and believes that it is important, and even if it were not important, the government of Prime Minister Belka confirmed that it was important in 2004. And that’s it for all this great legal analysis, we are dealing only with a refusal on the basis of a document that does not really exist” – explained the lawyer. “We have a reliable legal analysis of a man who did this scientifically” – she noted.
“The disadvantages of the declaration of will are as follows: it was issued under political coercion and under economic coercion in conditions of limited sovereignty. These are the three reasons why it is absolutely invalid ab initio” – emphasized Komarnicka-Nowak.
It can be seen, therefore, that there are no legal grounds that could justify Germany’s refusal to pay reparations due to Poland. Historical evidence also argues that Poles should be compensated for the harm done to them during World War II. The decision of the authorities in Berlin to refuse to pay the amounts due to Poland is a strictly political decision, resulting from bad will and a colonial approach to our country. As long as Germany does not settle accounts for the destruction caused during World War II, it was still mentally and politically stuck in the Third Reich, and thus will be a potential threat.