Poland’s claim for reparations from Germany is legitimate: German historian

Photo: ipn.gov.pl

Warsaw claims for reparations for German war crimes and destruction are fully legitimate, German historian and physician Dr Karl Heinz Roth, who has been working on the subject since the 1980s, told the Polish Press Agency.

“Poland and the Polish people suffered particularly heavily as a result of the German occupation. The subsequent reparation claims are not time-barred,” the German historian stressed. Dr Roth describes the lack of reparations for crimes and destruction as “hypocritical behaviour”.

Poland should join forces with other countries

The historian pointed out that “Poland will only have a chance to succeed if it joins forces on the issue of reparations with all other countries whose compensation claims have so far been satisfied to a low extent. These include the states created after the break-up of former Yugoslavia, but also Ukraine, Belarus and other occupied territories of the former USSR.”

In his opinion, these countries could put enough pressure on the German elite and force them to negotiate only if they act together, “for example in the framework of the OSCE”. However, “in the light of the current politico-military confrontations, this seems hopeless,” Dr Roth stated.

“Germany dissociated itself from Nazi crimes and developed a broad ‘culture of remembrance', and its politicians asked the victims for forgiveness. However, they have ignored the material side of reparations and refused to pay compensations,” the historian said.

Greece also demanding reparations

Greece is also demanding reparations from Germany. The country “has been much more consistent than Poland in enforcing its reparations claims over the past decade,” Karl Roth pointed out.

A Greek parliamentary committee estimated the amount of war damage that Germany caused to the country during World War II to be at least EUR 289 billion.

Polish efforts toward reparations

In December 2021, Poland established the Institute for War Losses tasked with estimating the damage caused to the country by the German and Soviet occupation during WWII, when between four and six million Poles lost their lives.

According to earlier Polish assessments, based on the inventory from 1946, plus interest, the damage, caused by the German occupation, amounted to approximately EUR 800 billion.