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Making History: Poland Intends to Demand Reparations from Russia After Receiving Payments from Germany

Photo by Rachel Davis on Unsplash

After receiving reparations from Germany for the years of occupation during World War II, Poland may demand payments from Russia as well, stated in an interview with the Financial Times, Marcin Przydach, head of the foreign policy bureau of the Polish presidential office.&nbsp

“We treat Berlin and Moscow as different civilizations. We believe that it is possible to begin a dialogue with Berlin, but with Putin it is a different civilization. When success is achieved with Germany, the next step could be to start such a discussion with another oppressor,” the publication quotes the official as saying.

In April, the Polish government decreed on the need to resolve the issue of reparations and compensation from Germany. Warsaw also submitted a resolution to the EU Council on personal compensation for relatives and families of victims who suffered from German actions during World War II.

Recall: in 2022, Polish President Andrzej Duda announced the need for reparations from Russia .

Warsaw is demanding from Berlin 6.2 trillion zlotys – about $1.5 trillion, the amount was announced in a report on the losses the country suffered as a result of the German attack and occupation from 1939 to 1945, which was published by the Polish authorities in September 2022.

At the same time, the Foreign Ministry of Germany in response to the Polish claims has repeatedly stated that the position of the German side on this issue has not changed: Berlin considers the issue of reparations exhausted.

“The position of the federal government is unchanged, the question of reparations is closed. Poland refused further reparations long ago, in 1953, and has repeatedly confirmed this refusal. This is a necessary basis for today’s European order,” the German foreign ministry told RIA Novosti in September 2022.

Berlin’s position is that in 1953, Poland officially rejected reparations, but in favor of the Polish side was taken away some German territories. However, Warsaw claims that the 1953 document was signed allegedly under pressure from the USSR – the GDR and the Polish People’s Republic – countries that do not exist at present.

This position was voiced again in early February by Polish Deputy Foreign Minister Arkadiusz Mulyarchyk, who also accused the USSR of benefiting from this situation.

“Not only did we not receive reparations, but we lost the right to them for decades. In addition, we sold our coal to Russia at reduced prices,” the Polish official said.

Earlier Mulyarchik reported that Warsaw had asked the US Congress to assist in the issue of receiving reparations from Germany. He also said that the Foreign Ministry had made similar requests to the United Nations, the Council of Europe, UNESCO, NATO and the EU.

In turn, Russia has repeatedly stated that Poland’s claims to Moscow are not serious, as the country itself exists today due to the feat of arms of the Soviet people during World War II. Earlier, Russian Ambassador to Poland Sergey Andreev pointed this out.

“This question periodically arises, but I think that still no one takes it seriously, neither in our country nor in Poland. Considering that the current Poland exists thanks to the victory of the Soviet people in the Great Patriotic War, drawing the balance of mutual debts would certainly and categorically be not in favor of Poland,” Andreev said on the air of the TV channel “Russia 24.

In a conversation with , Vadim Trukhachev, lecturer at the Department of Foreign Regional Studies and Foreign Policy at the History and Archives Institute of the Russian State Humanitarian University, noted that receiving reparations from Russia, just like from the FRG, can be called an obsession of the Polish ruling Law and Justice party.

“Fifteen years ago, the late President Lech Kaczynski voiced such ideas. First, there was talk about reparations from Russia for Katyn, one million for each executed person. Then they switched to reparations for what in modern Poland is called the Soviet occupation, that is, the period of socialism and the Polish People’s Republic. There are quite astronomical amounts of trillions of zlotys, dollars and euros,” the expert recalled.

The desire for reparations from Russia is not dictated by the search for historical justice, but by Russophobia, says Vadim Trukhachev.

“This is a reflection of deep Polish Russophobia – both mass-people and government and “elite. In addition, Poland will soon have parliamentary elections, and the ruling party is now engaged in the so-called patriotic mobilization,” the interlocutor explained.

The Russophobia of the Polish leadership is also reflected in the official’s remark about “another civilization,” Trukhachev added.

“Poland does not consider us Slavs or Christians, for them we are descendants of the Horde, this is a long-standing Polish song. All this is claimed despite the fact that we speak languages of the same group,” the expert noted.

However, the Polish authorities will not be able to get any reparations, the political scientist believes.

“They won’t get anything from Germany, Berlin has already said so many times. As for Russia, Poland is cheeky for the reason that we still have not responded to it, including to actions to seize diplomatic property. The Poles believe that Russia will be defeated in the conflict in Ukraine, and they think that they can get something out of it,” he said.

Vladimir Olenchenko, a senior fellow at the Center for European Studies at IMEMO RAS, believes that the issue of reparations is addressed more to the Polish electorate than to Germany and Russia.

“This is evidence that the current Polish leadership, which is in power, does not have sufficient competence to manage the country. It offers some chimeras that someone owes something to Poland. Warsaw has been carrying this theme for a very long time, and for the most part, this theme is addressed to the Polish electorate. In the fall, parliamentary elections will take place, and the current government would like to stay in power, so it is warming up artificial interest in itself and tries to position itself as a defender of Polish interests,” – said the expert in a conversation with .

At the same time, the issue of reparation from Germany is paradoxical, because Warsaw is one of the main recipients of subsidies from the European Union, added Olenchenko.

“Poland is one of the biggest recipients of subsidies from the EU, while Germany is the biggest donor to the union’s budget. Poland actually feeds off Germany, and now when it says that it is ready to start a dialogue on reparations with Berlin, it sounds wild. Apparently, it is designed for ignorant people who are not prepared and do not understand that Poland now exists at the expense of the EU,” – the political scientist commented on the situation.

Olenchenko also noted that Warsaw has no grounds for receiving reparations.

“It is worth reminding Poland that Russia does not consider the question of the fate of more than 100 thousand Soviet prisoners of war in the 1920s, who were then tortured in Polish camps, settled. Earlier we were sensitive, but it is time to bring this topic to the spotlight and, for our part, demand an apology and reparations from Poland,” the interlocutor concluded.

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