The Polish government has been postulating for a group of experts to deal with the matter of reparations. It is good, then, that on Thursday experts from Germany and Poland will discuss the matter in Warsaw.
For many years Poland did not bring up the issue of war reparations with Germany. This was neither a mistake or shortsightedness from the Polish side. It was respect for an unwritten agreement between the two countries after the fall of communism in 1989.
Germany promised to help Poland return to the Western world, became an advocate of Poland’s joining the EU and NATO, a supporter of large transfers of EU funds to Poland and accept Polish borders. This was meant to help Poland catch up civilization-wise, due to its delay because of German actions during the war. In exchange, Poland agreed to German unification and did not raise the issue of reparations.
The generation which felt morally obliged for Germany to help Poland is passing away. The new one is not as sensitive
The circumstances in which this agreement was established have changed. The generation which felt morally obliged for Germany to help Poland is passing away. The new one is not as sensitive. Quite the contrary, forces which have had enough of apologizing are on the rise in Germany.
The leader of the far-right AfD postulated during last year’s election campaign that Germans should be proud of the successes of their troops during WW2. According to polls, the AfD is the second largest political force in Germany.
It is hard to consider that the topic of reparations is closed. Legal and political consequences aside, there are also the historic and moral aspects. Reparations should not be discussed solely by politicians wanting to make money from them. Instead of threatening each other with the reparations we should talk about what divides us and what, despite the reconciliation which is the success of both countries, wounds are still left open.
As a result of WW2 6 million Poles had died (including 3 million Jews). By 1945 Polish intellectual elites were decimated: 40 percent of doctors, 30 percent of lecturers and a quarter of lawyers and priests.