The American Polonia has the Polish government back on reparations from Germany

The Polish American Congress (PAC) issued a special statement in which it supported Poland’s efforts to seek compensation for German war crimes and destruction of the country during the German occupation in 1939-45. A document by the PAC executive committee published on social media shows that the organization is gathering information and preparing a plan for further action.

“The aggression and German occupation caused catastrophic changes in Poland. The country suffered the greatest property, personal and material losses in relation to the total population of all European countries. The effects are and will be visible for many generations to come” – representatives of the Polish American Congress note, emphasizing that their organization supports efforts to seek compensation for Poland for war damage caused by the German invasion and occupation of the Republic of Poland in 1939-1945. In their opinion, “this issue is still one of the most serious challenges in the post-war history of Poland.”

PAC representatives also inform that the Polish American Congress is in the process of gathering information and drawing up a plan to take appropriate action. “To this day, Poland has not received due compensation for the losses suffered. The report on the losses suffered by Poland as a result of German aggression and occupation during World War II 1939-1945 was prepared in Poland by a team of 33 researchers and specialists in various fields of knowledge and science, including historians, archivists, property appraisers, economists, and lawyers. The total amount of the calculated losses is PLN 6.22 trillion – the equivalent of USD 1.53 trillion, EUR 1.3 trillion” – they recall. They point out that “the fact that Poland fell under oppressive Soviet control after World War II made it impossible to settle the reparations issue.” “The Potsdam Agreement of 1945 defined the obligation for Germany to pay compensation to Poland, but at the same time it introduced the principle that it would be done through the USSR. Poland had no influence on the provisions of this agreement. The Polish state was not only unable to co-decide on the payment of reparations, but also was forced to give the USSR a significant amount of coal – a strategic resource that was much needed during the post-war reconstruction. In addition, Poland was deprived of any financial assistance after World War II. West Germany and other Western European countries received assistance from the European Reconstruction Program – known also as the Marshall Plan, while Poland was forced by the authorities of the Soviet Union to reject it” – PAC representatives emphasize.

“The German state, in order to protect itself from paying compensation for war damage, invoked the doctrine of jurisdictional immunities, which deprived Polish war victims of a legal way to seek compensation from Germany. The above circumstances prompted the Polish government to officially address the German state in order to comprehensive settlement of the issue of compensation. In September 2022, the Polish parliament adopted a solution on the claim for compensation for damages caused by Germany during World War II. In October 2022, the Republic of Poland formally demanded that the Federal Republic of Germany pay compensation in the amount of PLN 6.22 trillion – the equivalent of 1.53 trillion US dollars – for material and intangible losses, as well as compensation for individual victims of German aggression and occupation and their family members In a diplomatic note of December 28, 2022, Germany refused to take any action negotiations with Poland, claiming that the topic is closed. Like the government of the Republic of Poland, as well as the majority of Polish society, we cannot agree with such a statement. We fully agree with the view that the issue of due compensation from Germany for damages caused in Poland in the years 1939-1945 cannot be considered closed, settled or time-barred” – we read in the document issued by the PAC. The Polish American Congress expressed the hope that the German government will take steps to compensate for the losses suffered by Poland, as fair compensation is necessary both for reconciliation and for building international order.

“At least two generations of Polonia were directly affected by World War II, many people emigrated as a result of German aggression to Poland and could not return there. The rule of law in line with the current stage of development of international law and the protection of human rights requires each country to pay compensation for all damage caused by unlawful aggression. Poland is also entitled to reparations, they were paid by Germany to other states and nations. It is injustice that Berlin refuses to pay reparations to Poland. We hope that the German government will take systemic steps to compensate for the losses suffered by Poland on the side of Germany. We believe that fair compensation is essential to both reconciliation and international order-building” – say PAC representatives.

The Polish American Congress is an organization representing approximately 10 million Poles and Americans of Polish descent in the USA. Their voice is a strong support for the Polish government, which on September 1, 2022, presented a comprehensive report detailing the material losses suffered by Poland during World War II, along with a commitment to demand reparations from Germany in the amount of EUR 1.3 trillion. The German Foreign Ministry rejected Poland’s claims and said the case was closed and the German government would not conduct any negotiations on the matter.

Anna Wiejak

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