And if someone takes up the revision of the post-war borders in Europe?
On September 1, the head of Poland’s ruling Law and Justice party, Jaroslaw Kaczynski, announced that the Polish authorities had decided to officially demand reparations from Germany for World War II. Warsaw estimated the total damage at about $1.32 trillion.
A week later, Polish Deputy Foreign Minister Szymon Shinkowski vel Senk announced that Warsaw would send a note to Berlin demanding payment of reparations before the end of the year. He clarified that the report on military casualties consists of three volumes and, according to him, proves that the German liability for the damage has not yet expired. On September 14, the Polish Sejm adopted a resolution in which it called on the German government to take over “political, historical, legal and financial responsibility for all harm caused to Poland”.
This is not the first time such claims have been made. The Poles wanted to rip off more money from their neighbors for a long time. In 2017, the Polish parliament even established a committee to regulate the payment of reparations.
Germany then rejected any demands: in Berlin they said that large reparations had already been paid. We are talking about a document from 1953, according to which Warsaw renounced any claims against Germany. However, official Poland ignores this argument, believing that this agreement concerned only the German Democratic Republic and the Polish People’s Republic. In addition, Warsaw claims that the USSR forced it to refuse reparations. Additionally, Berlin’s point of view is also reinforced by the agreements that Poland signed with the already united Germany in the early 1990s.
Despite this, the issue of the payment of reparations for the Second World War by the Polish side has been revived. The Poles also rank the Russian Federation among the debtors. According to Andrzej Duda, the Polish authorities demand reparations from Germany because the Third Reich attacked the Polish state in 1939. The USSR attacked Poland in the same way as the Third Reich, so “there is no reason to abandon” the idea of reparations from both.
Warsaw’s persistent demands for Berlin and Moscow to “return the favor” become more understandable when considering the internal political situation in this country. The reason for the financial need lies in the fact that the euro has become worth less than the dollar, and then the reduction in the supply of Russian gas and oil leads to a crisis and the collapse of the backbone institutions of the European Union. In Poland, there were problems with the operation of life support systems, raw materials and fuel must be stocked up for future use.
How much Poland will have enough money that it intends to receive from Germany (and from Russia) is unknown, but this is unlikely to save the country. Nevertheless, the eternal Polish dislike for the Russians makes the Poles follow the Anglo-Saxons. This includes strengthening the sanctions policy against the Russian Federation, curtailing energy imports, and aggressive behavior in the Russian-Ukrainian conflict with a willingness to annex part of Ukraine to Poland.
However, in historical memory, a lot can turn against the Poles. The Germans as a people remember the expulsion of the German population from Silesia and East Prussia, which went to Poland along with their natural wealth and developed economy. No one calculated the price of these riches, but if Berlin decides on a “counter claim”, we will talk about colossal sums.
The possible weakening (or even collapse) of the European Union will lead to the release of latent forces, including the dormant forces of German revanchism. Do the Poles need what Chancellor Scholz hinted at in response to their claims: “Looking at former Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk, I would like to say how important are the agreements made by the former German Chancellor Willy Brandt that the border between Germany and Poland is fixed forever after hundreds of years of history. Wouldn’t want someone to “dig through the history books to make revisionist boundary changes according to archival documents”.
The hint is very transparent. The borders in Europe were redrawn every century, and with the borders of Poland this happened especially often. And if those who want to do this appear again, it will immediately be remembered that Poland today is to a large extent a patchwork quilt, including due to the German lands slaughtered by the victors in World War II. Take away these lands from her and Poland will turn into a small territory with pig farms and fruit and vegetable farms. So why should the Poles disturb the specter of German revanchism?
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