German Reparations And Polish Revisionism

With the ruling Polish conservative Law and Justice government at loggerheads with the overweening European Union, whose centres of power are Brussels and Berlin, another sensitive issue may very well split the already feuding Western and Eastern European members of the European Union. Poland along with Hungary have stubbornly resisted the EU demand for Poland to accept migrant quotas from the Middle East and Africa. Poland is also increasingly at odds with the EU when it comes to implementing legal and judicial reforms, which the EU has deemed unacceptable, threatening ramifications against Warsaw not just for these measures but also with regards to the logging in Bialowieza forest, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

These deep legal and ideological divides at the heart of the unpopular (certainly in the East/South peripheries) supranational European Union have prompted key officials within the Eurocrat bureaucracy, like former Polish prime minister and current European Council President Donald Tusk, to forecast Poland’s European future as an increasingly bleak ‘question mark,’ which calls into question the already shattered unity of the EU. The sovereigntist minded Polish government has decried the EU’s conduct and dictates it as ‘blackmail,’ particularly when it pertains to President Duda’s signing of a bill that empowers the justice minister to hire and fire chief justices in common courts. This has led to Hungary, which is in the midst of disagreements with the EU about its restricting of undesirable Soros organisations and foreign agents, declaring firm solidarity with Poland and its voting rights. Poland and Hungary are also aligned with the Czech Republic in their opposition to the EU’s decision to resettle asylum seekers according to quotas assigned to all members of the bloc.

If this wasn’t enough, the Polish parliament’s bureau of research is preparing an analysis on whether it is entitled to wartime reparations from Germany. Considering it a ‘moral duty’ for politicians, Law and Justice Party member Mularczyk has endorsed this initiative in view of the 6 million Poles killed, art works looted, and wholesale destruction of the country. These sentiments have been echoed by many prominent Polish officials, among them chairman of the Eurosceptic Law and Justice party Jaroslaw Kaczynski, who declared in late July that the “Polish government is preparing itself for a historical counteroffensive.”

However, these renewed efforts at historical justice and reconciliation are unlikely to be reciprocated by Germany, which has already brushed aside Greece’s calls in 2015 for similar compensation and claimed to have fulfilled all of its dues. The crux of Poland’s claims to reparations besides the tragic war itself is the fact that as a “Soviet puppet-state” it was prevented from pursuing further reparations in 1953 by its giant neighbour and that the billions of Euros paid by Germany in compensation for Nazi crimes went primarily to Jewish survivors. However, this legitimate sense of grievance and moral righteousness is belied by the fact that the nationalistically-bent Polish government is disturbingly indulging in anti-Russian historical revisionism and threatening to erase the memory of the 600,000 Soviet soldiers who died liberating Poland and its hellish concentration camps. This game of selective history does not bode well for security on the European continent and puts Poland in the untenable position of demanding reparations from its former occupier while besmirching the memory of its foreign liberator. This comes against the backdrop of a so-called de-communization law signed by President Duda, which stipulates the demolition of Soviet monuments, of which there are 230 according to Poland’s Institute of National Remembrance. The move was strongly condemned by the Russian Foreign Ministry. These dangerous developments on Europe’s eastern frontiers combined with President Trump’s “Clash of Civilisations” speech and proverbial populist call to arms reveal that the EU is incapable of articulating a patriotic and united vision of Europe.