Skip to comments.Polish MPs Call For War Damages From Germany
Posted on 09/10/2004 5:16:34 PM PDT by blam
Polish MPs call for war damages from Germany
By Kate Connolly in Berlin
Poland's parliament voted overwhelmingly yesterday to instruct the government to demand compensation from Germany for its actions during the Second World War.
The resolution, backed by 320 MPs with one abstention, also signalled a rejection of claims by millions of ethnic Germans for compensation in return for their deportation. The claims were dismissed as "illegal and unfounded".
More than 130 MPs were absent for the vote, a signal of the power of the issue in the popular mind.
The vote indicated how heated the reparations issue between the neighbouring countries has become, with politicians on both sides describing German-Polish relations as worse than at any time in recent decades.
Relations have also soured with the Czech Republic. Its parliament voted this year to back a resolution hailing President Eduard Benes, the post-war leader who issued decrees expelling three million Sudeten Germans. The resolution was widely seen as a provocation to Germany.
According to the Polish resolution, Marek Belka, the prime minister, should open negotiations with Berlin to secure compensation for the destruction of Polish towns and cities, to right the wrong of "the enormous material and spiritual destruction caused by German aggression, occupation and genocide".
The resolution is seen as a direct response to calls from leaders of German expelled citizens' organisations for compensation from Poland for the three million ethnic Germans driven from their homes at the end of the war. The person to have created the most fear is Erica Steinbach, who represents many of the deportees and is hated in Poland.
In July, Warsaw's mayor said he had appointed a group of statisticians and economists to calculate building by building and street by street the amount of damage Nazi troops caused to Warsaw in the final months of the war when they razed the city so that Germany could "if necessary" be presented with a bill.
President Aleksander Kwasniewski had urged MPs yesterday not to vote in favour of the resolution, fearing it could be counter-productive and set German-Polish relations back by decades.
Six million Poles, including nearly all the country's three million Jews, were killed following the German invasion in September 1939. Many towns and cities were destroyed in a concerted Nazi campaign to destroy Polish culture.
In the resolution, the MPs urged the German government to "stop encouraging its citizens to bring lawsuits against Poland", and called on Mr Belka's government to put pressure on Germany to resist such claims.
But the calls are likely to be interpreted as unfair in Berlin, where Chancellor Gerhard Schroder's coalition government has repeatedly spoken out against the deportees' claims.
At the 60th anniversary commemoration this year of the Warsaw Uprising - when, although the odds were against them, citizens of the Polish capital attempted an insurrection against Nazi troops - Mr Schroder tried to alleviate Polish fears by saying the Berlin government would never support the deportees' demands.
How long until the EU ends up in a shooting civil war?
Well, that and the fact socialism has turned Germany into an economic sinking ship. Can't get blood out of that turnip.
Go Poland! Go Czech Republic!