Poland appeals to UNESCO for help with return of heritage stolen by Germans

Poland’s Deputy Foreign Minister Arkadiusz Mularczyk has asked UNESCO to assist Poland in its attempts to recover heritage stolen by the Germans and transported to Germany during World War II

editor: Grzegorz Adamczyk
author: niezalezna.pl
Poland initiated a national “Empty Frames” campaign to raise awareness of the art taken by both Germans and Russians during WWII. (Source: Twitter/Polish Ministry of Culture)

At a joint press conference with Minister of Culture Piotr Gliński, Poland’s Deputy Foreign Minister Arkadiusz Mularczyk announced that Poland hopes UNESCO can help the country negotiate with Germany over the return of stolen heritage.

Mularczyk told reporters the Germans had destroyed and robbed many works of art and science as part of an attempt to erase the Polish state and its culture from the map. 

The deputy foreign minister also observed that Germany has still to be held to account for the actions of its Nazi government during World War II. He claimed there was no will or desire in Berlin to make good for the damage caused and the heritage robbed. 

Poland has submitted a diplomatic note to Germany with a demand for compensation for damages sustained by Poland in World War II. One of the areas in which Poland has asked for compensation is in regard to the return of heritage that was taken from Poland to Germany. Poland has called for works of art stolen to be returned. 

The Polish deputy foreign minister estimated that 50,000 railway trucks with furniture, books, paintings, and sculptures were taken from Warsaw alone, while estimating that 500,000 items of valuable heritage were stolen from across the country. All of these are now to be found in German homes, museums, or other public spaces, he claimed.

Explaining why Poland is appealing to UNESCO for help, Mularczyk said it is because the agency plays a key role regarding the protection of national heritage and has been instrumental in formulating conventions, resolutions, and recommendations attempting to prevent illegal trade and facilitate the return of heritage robbed during conflicts.

He stressed that “it is an institution well versed and experienced in assisting states in negotiating solutions”.

“Bearing in mind that experience, we turn to the director general of UNESCO with a request for cooperation and constructive assistance with regard to the recovery of heritage that has been stolen from Poland by the Germans,” Mularczyk added.

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