THE ISSUE OF DAMAGES FOR POLAND IS NOT CLOSED
MATEUSZ WYRWICH: - According to a report of the Scientific Service of German Bundestag, published in August 2017, our country often denounced military operations. Once in 1953, later in treaty documents in 1970 and in 1990. How much truth is there in it?
ARKADIUSZ MULARCZYK: - This is a false narration, which is continued So far nobody has presented a document of the Polish government addressed to the NRD government about denunciating rights by Poland to reparation or a respond from the German government concerning this issue addressed to the government. In the Acts Journal and ‘Polish Monitors’ from the years 1953 – 56 no act of RM or any other document about denunciation of rights by Poland to reparation or military damages. For several years, as an evidence for denunciating rights by Poland to German reparations and military damages, the ‘act’ of the government of Bolesław Bierut from 23 August 1953 was indicated. Having conducted a thorough archive query it turned out that in fact there is no document which would meet requirements of the act of the Ministers’ Council signed by ministers of the government of Bierut. There is only a piece of paper signed by him. Such a document did not meet the requirements of the RM act though and was not compatible with the constitutional order of that time, because the constitution from 1952 gave the right to the State Council, not the Ministers’ Council to form international relations. It is sad that such falsifications have been in the recent years when Poland had already been an independent country. Germany has been looking for various pretexts for years to refuse to begin talks with Poland about reparations. This is their known tactic used all over the world for tens of years. First they used the ‘act’ of 1953 to defend themselves, later they used treaties of 1970 and later the treaty 2+4 of 1990, in order to state that the claims became out of date. Certainly, this is false narration. There are also false statements that a form of reparation was gaining the so-called Western and Northern Lands by Poland. It is absolutely untrue. Big powerful countries decided about moving the border of Poland and the USSR to the West, regardless of the issue of reparation. Moreover, it should be reminded that area of post-war Poland per saldo is nearly 78 thousand km² smaller than before the Second World War.
Despite that the ambassador of Germany in Poland Rolf Nikel says that the issue of damages for Poland has already been closed. With the beginning of this year, also the foreign minister of Germany Sigmar Gabriel emphasized that Poland had withdrawn from claiming for damages for the military looses during talks with the prime minister Tadeusz Mazowiecki. Allegedly, Germany was blackmailing Mazowiecki that if he claimed for damages, there would not be an agreement reached about our border with Germany. Is there echo of it in documents?
Mrs. Ambassador presents the current attitude of the German government and this, I hope, will undergo a change soon. When analyzing over 79 Polish-German relations after the Second World War, it is seen clearly that throughout so many years Germany has searched for pretexts many times, not to explain their military crimes committed on the area of the Republic of Poland. It was their cynical game for keeping silent, forgetting and non-claim. It is a pity that in the beginning of the 90s of the last century the prime minister Mazowiecki also got succumb to this moral blackmail. It was a good time to settle down this issue. And we know that according to the article of the 4th Hague Convention of 1907, concerning rights and customs of the land war, signed also by Germany, the country pursuing a war responds to every act of a person belonging to military forces of this country. This duty has not been realized towards Poland by Germany till today. It is necessary to remind Germany of it again and call loudly that the international law does not acknowledge an institution of non-claim of war crimes towards humankind. Moreover, it does not acknowledge non-claim for damages because of these crimes. If Germany wants to teach others about the rules of the country of law, it has to explain its war crimes and give back Poland its stolen works of art and achievements of culture.
Throughout the year’s work of the team you recommended lots of expertise. What does it show?
Opinions and works carried out by the team prove explicitly the text of binding acts of the international law and the post-war practice within reparation, including discriminating policy of RFN towards Poland and Polish citizens – according to the comparison other countries which had lesser material and personal losses, received much higher damages than Poland. It explicitly supports the possibility of claiming for damages by Poland, caused by the Second World War. Moreover, despite losses and destruction caused by the war, beside the USSR, Poland and Polish citizens received benefits from Germany, not only disproportionate to harms, but definitely lower than damages paid by RFN to other countries and their citizens. RFM assigned about 600 million German marks for the sake of citizens of the Polish country, including pays for the victims of pseudo-medical experiments and Foundation Polish- German Conciliation. This amount of money is not even 1 per cent of the amount which the German government assigned after the Second World War to pay damages to citizens of Western Europe, the United States and Israel.
The issue of damages was also discussed at a meeting of the Security Council of the UNO. President Andrzej Duda said at the RB forum that countries which caused the war, should pay damages. A lot is said about unpaid war reparations for Poland in Europe and all over the world thanks to you….
Indeed, it is nearly a year since the works of the Seym team for reparation and initiatives of international character has been making the world press publish articles devoted to Poland, responsibility of Germany for the Second World War and the amount of potential damages and reparation. These articles return suitable proportions to the issue of the war. Because, unfortunately, it is a long time since we have been observing falsifying real history of the Second World War, the role of Germany and other nations in it. In relation to it, we hear more and more that it is Germany which is beginning to apologize, admit its responsibility for it and explain. It is step to a good direction, now we must make some more.
Thanks to your initiative also a letter was addressed to MPs of many countries, including England, Armenia or Lithuania and sent to the commissioner of human rights of the Europe Council about damages from Germany. Among questions which were asked in the letter, there is, among the others, this one: ‘Does the European law allow for differentiating amounts of damages depending on nationality of people, not the scale of the crime, to which they were victims?’. Do you have a reply to this issue?
Indeed I managed to convince 17 MPs from 7 European countries to present this initiative. Now I am looking forward to the reply from the commissioner of human rights of the Europe Council. For, it is necessary to note that the legal situation of the people who experienced harms from the Third Reich, particularly from Central and Eastern Europe, is worse than the situation of citizens of Western Europe countries or Israel. Citizens of Poland and this part of Europe have not had a right to court till today, and benefits which they were paid, were ridiculously low, as about 150 euro per a person. Therefore, we ask the commissioner of human rights of the Europe Council: Does the European law allow for differentiating amounts of damages depending on nationality of people, not the scale of the crime, to which they were victims? The answer and possible legal steps of the commissioner of human rights of Europe Council may have a big significance for investigation of damages of individual victims and their heirs, for which I hope.
Due to the works of your team something might have changed, as during the recent talks of president Andrzej Duda with president Frank-Walter Steinmeier in Lithuania, president of Germany admitted that Poland deserves damages.
Indeed, during important international meetings or meetings with presidents of other countries, president Andrzej Duda did it also during his pronouncement at a forum of the Security Council of the UNO – he raises the issue of damages and war reparations. Such an attitude of the president of the Republic of Poland is a great support for our efforts to receive war reparations. Thanks to these efforts the attitude of many groups in Poland and abroad to reparations is changing. It is seen that the attitude of Germany begins to change. This is a process which I can also see and I hope that it will lead to particular talks about war reparations.
Whereas an advocate of Germany about damages for Poland is the coalition of the Civic Platform and Polish People’s Party. Why do you think it is so?
It is difficult for me to understand this attitude, as the scale of harms experienced during the war by every Polish family was unimaginable, and beside that there is a great social support for Polish efforts for war reparations. If Germany does not want to destroy the relation with Poland and Poles, we should regulate this issue at last. It is seen that the opposition of the Civic Platform and the Polish People’s Party are worried about the balance of the budget of Germany more than compensating the harms of their compatriots.
You have noted recently that setting forth the ‘issue of the rule of law in Poland’ may have a relation with the Polish protest against Nord Stream 2, as well as with our claim for damages for the war losses…You have also written a letter recently to the chairman of the Germany Federal Tribunal of Justice Bettiny Limperg, in which you ask whether her defending Małgorzata Gerfdorf does not have a relation with the attitude of Germany to the issue of reparation for Poland. And what was the reply?
I think that in Germany there are also forces which are aware of a danger by justified claims of Poland, so, they are trying to present it as a non-democratic country – in order to weaken our international position and avoid participating in important talks. This is another revelation of a German game for time delay…
What if Germany will definitely say ‘no’ about damages?
I think that it does not lie in its interest if it has an ambition to be the leader of the EU and an example of democracy and following human rights. No fulfilling commitments for the war crimes towards Poland will always be its responsibility.
The year 1939 is also the invasion of the USSR onto Poland. The losses which our country suffered from, are also enormous. Maybe even much higher. I lost nearly a half of our territory. Will Poland thrive for damages also from Russia?
I think that after preparing a report on war losses brought to Poland by Germany, there should be a report about losses brought to Poland by the USSR as well, and also during nearly 50 years of the soviet occupation. This knowledge is necessary not only for historians but also for us – also for its political usage in the future, when there appears a suitable moment in Polish-Russian relations.
Translated by Aneta Amrozik
Niedziela 41/2018 (14 X 2018)