by William Nattrass
Wednesday, 4
January 2023
Analysis
17:15

Is Poland playing politics over reparations?

Its claim to compensation is fuelled by anti-German resentment
by William Nattrass
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki. Credit: Getty.

Poland and Germany are EU neighbours, but their alliance is a strange one. The relationship is increasingly bitter, and on Tuesday the German government announced that it won’t consider new claims by Warsaw for over $1.3 trillion in reparations for damage inflicted by the Nazis during World War II. In response, Poland said it will take its claim to the United Nations.

Germany insists that Poland waived any reparations claims in a 1953 agreement. Warsaw representatives say that decision was made under pressure from the USSR, and that it never made a sovereign choice on the matter.  


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Reparations claims are all the rage in the West. From demands for compensation over historical slavery and imperialism, to claims that advanced economies must pay “climate reparations” to poor countries around the world, it’s fashionable to suggest that levelling out inequalities demands visiting the sins of distant ancestors upon those living today. 

When Poland’s request was officially launched by the ruling Law and Justice party at Warsaw’s Royal Castle in September, the language bore distinct similarities to slavery reparations claims. The Polish government suggested that Poland was never able to achieve “normality” following the war, saying the effects of Nazi occupation “continue to this day.” 

While the claims relate to more recent atrocities than the transatlantic slave trade, in some ways Warsaw’s calls for reparations don’t hold as much water. Unlike countries which profited from the slave trade, Germany’s wartime destruction and oppression of Poland did not bring it long-term economic advantage at Poland’s expense. The Polish economy was obliterated — but World War II wasn’t exactly profitable for Germany, either. 

Poland’s arguments suffer from the same problem as other reparations claims: highlighting one long-distant link in the chain of historical cause and effect as the reason for all present problems is too simplistic. When it comes to the specific injustice of Poland’s lack of war reparations, for instance, it could be argued that historical responsibility lies not with Germany but with the USSR, for pressuring Poland to drop its claims when those who lived through the war were still alive. 

But the Polish government appears motivated less by any likelihood of success than by the political expediency of stoking anti-German sentiment ahead of general elections this autumn. Warsaw was long suspicious of Berlin due to its friendly relations with the Kremlin before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and now that mistrust has hardened into intense dislike. The leader of Law and Justice, Jarosław Kaczyński, has even warned of a “German-Russian plan to rule over Europe”.

And with Germany the economic driving force in the European Union, anti-German sentiment is a key ingredient of eurosceptic nationalism throughout Central Europe. At recent anti-western rallies in the Czech Republic attended by tens of thousands, the level of antipathy for their western neighbour was striking — speakers portrayed the EU as a new vehicle for an old German wish to dominate Europe. 

Such attitudes underline the problems still posed by a shared European political project in which Germany plays the leading role. Poland’s reparations claim on its powerful neighbour shows how fragile are the alliances holding together states which still haven’t forgotten the days when they were bitter enemies.

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Julian Farrows
Julian Farrows
29 days ago

This is the natural result of promoting historical and racial grievance narratives in Western academia and media, and now this kind of discourse is spreading across the globe. The problem is that almost every nation or ethnicity can lay claim to being victims of oppression at one point in their history. We used to encourage people to rise above their past and not to let it define them, but with so much money to be made from reparations many grifters will be all too eager to jump on the victimhood gravy train. The biggest danger of this retrograde mentality is that it fuels ancient hatreds that ultimately lead to cruelty and war.

Isabel Ward
Isabel Ward
29 days ago
Reply to  Julian Farrows

True. It’s also the same country that won’t compenstae or return property to Jews who lost their property in their country either.

Thomas Bengtsson
Thomas Bengtsson
28 days ago
Reply to  Isabel Ward

Poland should compensate Jews for what Germany and USSR got away with? Chill

R Wright
R Wright
29 days ago

“World War Two wasn’t exactly profitable for Germany, either.”
Wasn’t it? Britain waged war on the continent twice in the space of a handful of decades and essentially bankrupted itself, ending its role as a world power, all for the purpose of keeping Germany from dominating the continent. The Second World War managed to wipe away the blood guilt from the German state, and with American backing it became the most prosperous country in Europe again with a decade of the end of the conflict.
Within a few decades the fallout of WW2 profited Germany immensely and made it the pre-eminent economic power on the European continent with its tendrils wrapped around two dozen other states through the EU, a creature entirely in thrall to the German industrial lobby. This time there is no rival against it. Germany still has yet to redress the impact of the war. Poland is right to demand that they recompense them, and Britain should be queueing right behind them.

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
29 days ago
Reply to  R Wright

Poland was ‘ created’ by Britain and France in 1919 to irritate Germany. Previously it had been ‘off’ the map of Europe since 1795!
We were mad to rush to its defence in 1939, for the very simple reason we could NOT afford it!
We have been ‘paying’ the bill ever since.

Tony Testosteroni
Tony Testosteroni
29 days ago

>Poland was ‘ created’ by Britain and France in 1919 to irritate Germany
Poland was created after austro-hungarian, russian and german empires which broke it apart 120 years ago themselves fell apart. Poland was created by Poles. Them playing up contemporary leftist grievance politics against the leftist and until the very latest actively pro Russian Germany is a good move

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
29 days ago

Poland owed its freedom to the efforts of Max Hoffman & Co, but surely you know that?

Tony Testosteroni
Tony Testosteroni
29 days ago

Why Max Hoffmann ? Why not say Alexander Izvolsky ?

Peter B
Peter B
28 days ago

This is even more absurd than Putin’s claim that “Ukraine isn’t a real country”.
Poland existed centuries before 1919. Apparently the Kingdom of Poland started in 1025. It got partitioned three times in the late 1700s – so it must have existed then.
We had a treaty obligation to defend Poland in 1939.

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
28 days ago
Reply to  Peter B

That is a rather superficial reply. may II suggest you do some more reading?

Peter B
Peter B
28 days ago

Sorry, I slightly misread your original comment.
But the idea that it was created to annoy Germany in 1919 doesn’t make sense. It always existed. There is a Polish people and language. It was restored to something like what it was before.
I’m also very grateful for the help we got from the Poles who came to the UK in 1939 and fought with us in the RAF, North Africa, Italy, France and Germany. They went the full distance with us.
I’m not convinced by the Poles demand for reparations now though. They’ve got enough to make their own way in the world now and are doing fairly well – they are hard working, smart people and they don’t really need handouts.

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
28 days ago
Reply to  Peter B

Thanks to the genius of Max Hoffman, the German Army comprehensively defeated the Czar, Karensky and the Bolsheviks in short order in 1917-8. By the Treaty of Brest -Litovsk (3rd March 1918) the rump of Poland would have been a semi-independent German Client State. Hoffman was quite adamant that he wanted no more Poles under direct German rule.

Fortunately Ludendorff decided to continue the War against in the West with disastrous results. In the ensuing chaos the Poles sized their chance and established a completely independent state.
As a result of Versailles and other treaties Germany would now face a plethora of nano-states on its eastern border, of which Poland was the most powerful. This arrangement was intended to inhibit any thoughts of German eastern expansion.
None of this denies that Poland has existed since 1025 with an interregnum between 1795-1918.
I also agree with you that the Poles made a major contribution to our war effort, only to be sadly abandoned 1945.
However I also agree they should not be expecting further compensation from Germany. Enough is enough as they say. The real culprit is Russia but even if they wanted to, they would be incapable of paying compensation for their appalling rule from 1772-1918.

Last edited 28 days ago by stanhopecharles344
Peter B
Peter B
28 days ago

Thanks – I’ve learnt something today.
But if a population of 40 million (Poland) is a nano-state, I guess we’re not far off being one too !

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
28 days ago
Reply to  Peter B

Yes perhaps I should have said the Baltic States and Czechoslovakia.
In 1920 Poland’s population was about 30 million whilst Germany’s was about 60 million,
As for ‘us’ wasn’t it Westmorland who described the odds before Agincourt as “ five to one”?

ps.Something dreadfully WRONG with comments format at present!

Last edited 28 days ago by stanhopecharles344
Tony Testosteroni
Tony Testosteroni
28 days ago

Bad take. Might as well blame the Russian government and high command for being corrupt and incompetent. Siding with England, under-equipping the army and losing at Tannenberg, Stokhod etc destroyed the empire more than relative german military competence

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
28 days ago

That is a fairly incomprehensible reply! May I take it that English is NOT your native tongue?

Tony Testosteroni
Tony Testosteroni
28 days ago

Is it tho ? Maybe the problem is your reading comprehension ? Which part or parts of my short reply are hard for you to comprehend ?

Andrew F
Andrew F
27 days ago

Your ignorance of history is amazing.
If anyone, as you claim, created Poland in 1918 it was USA and president Wilson.
On a wider point, there are many countries which did not exist for much longer than Poland.
Modern Germany was only created in 1871 after war with France.
Belgium?
Italy?
Norway?
Finland?
Greece?
Ireland?
Most Balkan states.
Yes, many historians, especially Russian ones, still advance the idea that golden age of Europe was from Congress of Vienna in 1815 till ww1.
When Great Powers enslaved other nations.
You clearly believe that was the high point of European history.
On a narrower point of Britain defending Poland in 1939 it had not really happened.
Then, in Battle of Britain (which was close call) Polish pilots shot down 15% of German planes while constituting 6% of Royal Air Force.

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
27 days ago
Reply to  Andrew F

I am sorry, but you have obviously been reading far too many ‘comics’ to be taken seriously.

Tony Testosteroni
Tony Testosteroni
27 days ago

Go work on your reading comprehension

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
27 days ago

Is English your native tongue ?

Tony Testosteroni
Tony Testosteroni
27 days ago

Tell me more about the genius of Max Hoffmann you midwit

Last edited 27 days ago by Tony Testosteroni
CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
27 days ago

You only demean yourself by such vulgarity.
You might also change your ridiculous name, if you wish to be taken seriously.

Tony Testosteroni
Tony Testosteroni
27 days ago

You demean yourself by posting midwit comments , but there isn’t much you can do about it. My advice would be to stop flooding the comment section with your mediocrity and go work on your reading comprehension . Also, what’s wrong with my name and why would I change it ?

Jeremy Smith
Jeremy Smith
29 days ago
Reply to  R Wright

Hilarious (in an absurd way).
UK got 2x as much Marshall Aid as Germany so how did American backing helped Germany but hurt UK?!
Germany outperformed UK because (brace yourself!) they fundamentally are better workers.

P.S.If Poland demands money does Germany gets Eastern Prussia (aka Western Poland) back?

Pete Marsh
Pete Marsh
29 days ago
Reply to  Jeremy Smith

Maybe Germany could ask their mates in Russia nicely for Kaliningrad back?

Jeremy Smith
Jeremy Smith
29 days ago
Reply to  Pete Marsh

May be

Jonathan West
Jonathan West
29 days ago
Reply to  Jeremy Smith

Actually I read most of our money got spaffed away by the Labour govt in a entirely misplaced attempt to hold to a Super Power status.

Last edited 29 days ago by Jonathan West
Jeremy Bray
Jeremy Bray
29 days ago
Reply to  Jonathan West

They elected Adenauer and we elected Attlee, Churchill, Eden and Macmillan.

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
28 days ago
Reply to  Jeremy Smith

‘They’ certainly deserve it.

Thomas Bengtsson
Thomas Bengtsson
28 days ago
Reply to  Jeremy Smith

Prussia was for the most part of history a vassal state to the Polish crown. Now they just ended the rent-free accommodation. Should the Wends (Poles) ask for Berlin back or the Pomeranians almost the whole Baltic landstrip up to Denmark?

Maybe the Moors would like Al-Andalus back as well. And Spain get Netherlands back. The Netherlands didn’t exist for a longer time than Polands exodus for 123 years.

Ireland was out of the map for almost a millennia, almost even their language extinct. Should I got on?

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
28 days ago

Don’t worry the impulse for the ‘Drang nach Osten’ hasn’t gone away, it is only dormant…….for now.

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
27 days ago
Reply to  Jeremy Smith

Nonsense. We lost out at the end of war for a number of reasons
Our Defence spending continued at 25% of GDP until the mid 50s. German defence spending was negligible.
In order to fight the war the UK took on huge debts which we only finished repaying in 2006.
We were asset stripped by the US as a condition of lend lease, which included unrestricted access to the markets of the British Empire. As Keynes put it “stripping us of our liquid assets to the greatest extent possible before the Lend Lease Bill comes into operation…He was aiming to reduce Britain’s gold reserves to nil, treating us worse than we have ever ourselves thought it proper to treat the humblest and least responsible Balkan country”.
Germany, received Marshal aid of $1.7 billion, which it invested primarily in capital and infrastructure, paving the way for the Wirtschaftswunder. While the UK received $2.7m in Marshall aid, it only spent about 25% of this on capital investment. About 40% was spent on the construction of the delusion that is the welfare state and almost all the remainder on maintaining/extricating ourselves from Empire.
Having won the war the British people (perhaps not unreasonably) had a sense of entitlement which, amongst other things, led to the election of the disastrous Atlee Government.
In addition to the self inflicted wounds of the NHS and welfare state, the Attlee Government sabotaged British industry. No doubt wearing political blinkers, the Attlee Government bought in to the obvious lie of the success of the Soviet command economy and sought to model UK economy along similar lines. Seemingly the Courts had no objection to the Prorogation of Parliament by Attlee in order to force through the nationalization of the iron and steel industry. We did not start to unravel this disaster until the election of Thatcher in 1979. The success of the Soviet command economy was an obvious lie to anyone who cared to look. The USSR was only saved by massive aid from the US and, ironically the UK.
German industry was in a lot better state at the end of the war than people suspect. During the course of the war there had been huge innovation and improvements in production with the result that it was vastly more modern, productive and efficient that it was in 1939. As the saying goes, necessity is one hell of a mother.

Last edited 27 days ago by Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Andrew F
Andrew F
27 days ago

Great post.
It is amazing how many people in uk still believe the obvious lie that Germany got more in Marshall Plan aid than UK.
There is great series of books by Mr Barnett explaining all that and many other issues.
Unfortunately, due to Soviet dominance od Eastern and Central Europe in 1945, it was impossible to implement Morgentau plan for Germany.
So Germans got away with destroying much of Europe in two world wars.
I agree with many commentators here that when Germany economic situation declines, they will start blaming others.
Rearming Germany is bad idea.
They should pay their, much increased, contributions to NATO by paying for Polish and UK armies.
Not likely though.

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
27 days ago
Reply to  Andrew F

The late, great, Correlli Barnett, 1925-2022.

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
27 days ago
Reply to  Andrew F

I got put on Mr Barnett by an Unherd commentator.
I bought all 3/4 of his books on the British economy. Shamefully I have yet to start reading them

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
26 days ago

An excellent précis, thank you.
It is a great pity that many of the commentators here are NOT aware of this, and in particular the of the ‘acid’ quote by Keynes.

Jerry Carroll
Jerry Carroll
28 days ago
Reply to  R Wright

Germany’s selfishness and desire for the good life for its people led to shirking its share of the defense burden and today’s toothless military is the result. They got away with it by weeping over their undeniable historical guilt. As it rearms watch the old bellicosity return.

Paul Devlin
Paul Devlin
28 days ago
Reply to  R Wright

‘Blood guilt’?

Hugh R
Hugh R
29 days ago

Indeed, the poor old Germans used to have companies like Krupp, Mercedes, and Badische Anilin- und Sodafabrik, before the war, – you never hear of them, or the families who ran them now.

Last edited 29 days ago by Hugh R
CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
29 days ago
Reply to  Hugh R

True, we should have hanged quite a few more, but we are not a vindictive people.

Jeremy Smith
Jeremy Smith
29 days ago

Who is “we”?

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
29 days ago
Reply to  Jeremy Smith

England.

Jeremy Smith
Jeremy Smith
29 days ago
Reply to  Hugh R

They lost 6m people, Eastern Germany (Western Poland today), patents and trademarks, the country was split, and sizeable chunk of the country was destroyed. They also got half of the Marshall Aid that UK got…and despite all that WG outperformed UK.
Suck on that!

Last edited 29 days ago by Jeremy Smith
Dougie Undersub
Dougie Undersub
28 days ago
Reply to  Jeremy Smith

But what the Germans didn’t have that Britain did was massive war debts.

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
28 days ago

“massive war debts”. To the USA,

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
27 days ago
Reply to  Jeremy Smith

I refer you to my above comment

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
28 days ago
Reply to  Hugh R

Don’t forget good old IG Farben!

Emre S
Emre S
29 days ago

it could be argued that historical responsibility lies not with Germany but with the USSR

This is a weak argument, Poland probably also has a claim from Russia, but that doesn’t remove the fact that Germany did invade Poland in an act of agression, and murdered its people. The killing of Slavic people by the Nazis seems to be a lesser known aspect, but doesn’t make it any less horrible.

D Glover
D Glover
28 days ago
Reply to  Emre S

Under the Molotov-von Ribbentrop pact, the Soviet Union and Germany both invaded Poland. Is Germany the legitimate heir of the third Reich, and is Russia the heir of the USSR?
Both equally guilty, if that is the case.
I don’t really agree with historical reparations, because how far back can you go? Should we claim reparations from Algeria and Libya because Barbary Corsairs took Britons as slaves?

Emre S
Emre S
28 days ago
Reply to  D Glover

Can’t say much for Barbary corsairs, or Egyptian Pharaohs, but today there are people living and companies operating in all three countries who’ve benefited or lost pretty much directly due to that war – if that contributes to an answer how far back we can go.

Paul M
Paul M
28 days ago
Reply to  D Glover

Dude, yall talk about WWII like it happened ages ago. I guess that’s the privilege of not living in Poland. Several of my direct family members still alive today, lived through *both* wars. My father and uncles all rebuilt the destroyed country brick by brick. We won’t even get into all of the Poles murdered *after* the war was officially over and Nazi troops marched the f**k home.

Douglas McNeish
Douglas McNeish
27 days ago
Reply to  D Glover

Add to that the Soviet betrayal and massacre of the Polish officer corps at Katyn. And Poland chose Europe over the Soviet Comecon. Poland goes after Germany because therein lies traction. Putin would just laugh at them.
And, yes, Barbary réparations should be pursued, and against Turkish slaughter of European populations over the centuries.

Wim de Vriend
Wim de Vriend
28 days ago
Reply to  Emre S

I guess you plumb forgot that when in September 1939 Germany invaded Poland from the west and annexed it, Russia did the very same from the east a couple of weeks later, in accordance with the so-called Ribbentrop-Molotov non-aggression Pact. They were two of a kind.

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
28 days ago
Reply to  Emre S

Stalin invaded Poland 14 days after Adolph and ‘got away with it’ to our eternal shame.

Jeremy Smith
Jeremy Smith
29 days ago

shows how fragile are the alliances holding together states which still haven’t forgotten the days when they were bitter enemies.

No it is not. We have elections in Poland and the last one (and I am guessing the next) one will be barely won by the Law and Justice Party. In the last presidential election Duda won by 2%. Basically old people vote Law & Order and young people vote for the opposition. Sadly when it comes to politics Poles are their own worst enemies. In any European country you will have a sizeable minority that is going to endlessly bang on about historical problems.
If the 1953 agreement is “cancelled” what happens to the borders of Poland?

Thomas Bengtsson
Thomas Bengtsson
28 days ago
Reply to  Jeremy Smith

You mean that the Poles, as a sovereign nation, completely sonically decided to neither demand compensation nor receive the Marshall Plan that was offered to them. Have you studied history at McDonald’s university with Ronald as the main history teacher. Also, what boundaries are we talking about, and at what time in history are they to be accepted by you.

Douglas McNeish
Douglas McNeish
27 days ago
Reply to  Jeremy Smith

Answer: Gdansk (Dantzig) back to Germany.

Last edited 27 days ago by Douglas McNeish
Andrew F
Andrew F
27 days ago
Reply to  Jeremy Smith

What are you talking about?
Current Polish borders were recognised by Helmut Schmidt government in agreement with Gomulka government in 1970.
Anyway, Polish borders were decided by Allies in Yalta.
No serious historian would recognise Polish government in 1953, and its ability to take decisions, as independent in any meaningful sense.
Whether Polish claim for compensation is sensible, legally valid under international law etc is another matter.
What is clear is German government pursuing economic policies like Nord Stream etc which were economic equivalent of Ribentrop-Molotov pact while preaching EU vertues.
Then using EU legal system to interfere in Polish government affairs which are clearly outside EU treaties.

Tony Price
Tony Price
29 days ago

It would seem that Poland has at least as much reason to demand reparations from Russia for WWII, with the added bonus of 1945-1991, and of course the centuries (or whatever) before 1919. Maybe they should have a go at that as well!

Douglas McNeish
Douglas McNeish
27 days ago
Reply to  Tony Price

No traction there.

Jürg Gassmann
Jürg Gassmann
28 days ago

The EU’s promise used to be general prosperity in return for political obscurity. The US, on the other hand, has found it convenient to seduce the former Warsaw Pact countries with promises of a return to former glory in return for their participation in the US’ anti-Russia project.
Poland would do well to take a cold hard look at the fate of two other countries that fell for the US’ blandishments in the US’ policy of “let’s you and he fight.” One can hardly say the US respected Georgia in the morning. Ukraine can look forward to the same fate.

Douglas McNeish
Douglas McNeish
27 days ago
Reply to  Jürg Gassmann

Reminiscent of Russia’s encouragement of Serbian nationalism leading up to WWI. It won’t end well. But then why should Ukrainians drink the Kool-aid of Ukraine-is-really-Russia served by Putin, when they know they have their own culture, language and history?

Peter D
Peter D
29 days ago

Would the 1.3 Trillion including returning land to Germany?

Peter B
Peter B
28 days ago
Reply to  Peter D

But then they’d have to take back parts of Western Belarus and Ukraine … and Germany would want Konigsberg back …

Thomas Bengtsson
Thomas Bengtsson
28 days ago
Reply to  Peter D

Wars have consequences, always had. What land should be returned by your reasoning? Netherlands back to Spain?

Douglas McNeish
Douglas McNeish
27 days ago

Karelia back to Finland? Alsace back to Germany? Italy’s Alto-Adige back to Austria? The grievance account books would be impossible to settle once opened.

Jeremy Bray
Jeremy Bray
29 days ago

Reparations are something imposed by the victors. When you pay reparations you know you have lost and as often as not revanchist sentiment rises and you gear up for part 2.

Wim de Vriend
Wim de Vriend
28 days ago

Why don’t the Poles try to get reparations from the Russians who oppressed them en kept their economy down for some 56 years? It’s not that I’m trying to defend the Germans, but the eastern part of today’s Germany got the same treatment the Poles got.

Thomas Bengtsson
Thomas Bengtsson
28 days ago
Reply to  Wim de Vriend

I agree, but try reasoning with a mongol character in Kremlin. It’s impossible. Why weren’t there any Tribunals in Russia (USSR) like in Nuremberg? The Mongols got away with too much.

Douglas McNeish
Douglas McNeish
27 days ago

Because of the Molotov Ribbentrop pact which would have shed light on Soviet complicity in Europe’s devastation? And Soviet massacre of Poland’s office corps at Katyn Forest?

Andrew F
Andrew F
27 days ago
Reply to  Wim de Vriend

Yes, but they got free money from West Germany after reunification.
Which Poland did not.
I accept though, that Soviet Union forced Poland to reject Marshall Plan and delayed development of Poland for 45 years of occupation.

Nicky Samengo-Turner
Nicky Samengo-Turner
28 days ago

The Germans should pay for the devastation that they caused Poland, Greece, Italy France and Britain… plus interest.

Douglas McNeish
Douglas McNeish
27 days ago

Thank you William for highlighting this interesting, but not surprising development. It was Merkel’s autocratic dealings with Greece, and then her in invitation to mass immigration into the EU in 2015, which were the catalysts for Brexit. Poland has even deeper reasons for wariness of German hegemony.

As for the current reparations fad, the difficulty of maintaining the books of grievance accounts at any international body will mean it’s enforcement will be dependent upon aggression, such as the French occupation of the Ruhr after WWI. Don’t see Warsaw attempting that any time soon.

Andrew F
Andrew F
27 days ago

There were many problems with Merkel invitations to immigrants but the really disgusting parts of this decision were:
1) she never consulted other EU countries.
2) when the move backfired, she tried to force countries like Poland to accept immigrants she invited.

Tony Testosteroni
Tony Testosteroni
29 days ago

I think unherd readers will be interested to see unherd plagiarist writer Malcom Kyeyune’s (@tinkzorg) view on this topic:
https://twitter.com/Tinkzorg/status/1597104609755287552
https://twitter.com/Tinkzorg/status/1597129296111636482?s=20

Thomas Bengtsson
Thomas Bengtsson
28 days ago

The guy is laughed at here in Sweden, but he’s making a career on Unherd. Does people really take him seriously.

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
27 days ago

No.

Russell Hamilton
Russell Hamilton
28 days ago

I don’t know about the EU, but wouldn’t Germany have been, in effect, giving money to Poland via the EU? That seems a nicer way of healing past injustices than demands for reparations.

Last edited 28 days ago by Russell Hamilton
Thomas Bengtsson
Thomas Bengtsson
28 days ago

Germany “giving” money to Poland, through EU. When did this happen, all for free?

Russell Hamilton
Russell Hamilton
28 days ago

Don’t the richer countries put the money into EU funds that are then spent in the poorer countries – on infrastructure and the like? Germany is probably the biggest contributor to the EU budget, and Poland is probably a taker, no?

Thomas Bengtsson
Thomas Bengtsson
28 days ago

Yes indeed they do. It’s well spent money as well. They getting back twice as much. And keeping the borders open drains Poland of their adventurous part of population which would be needed in their own country. These investments never comes for free in the end. I haven’t heard of monetary institutions that “gives” money. They want something in return, of course. There’s no free lunches anymore.

On the other hand I can’t complain, I myself work outside my own country Sweden because I make probably 40% more into my wallet. So I understand people moving around, be it for education, work, love or just pure adventure.

Jerry Carroll
Jerry Carroll
28 days ago

The EU, a complex network of bureaucratic elites, will dissolve from the acid of various historical wrongs. They have been the sorces of wars since time out of mind.

Christopher Barclay
Christopher Barclay
25 days ago

The Germans are still threatening the Poles with Russia/USSR.

David Kingsworthy
David Kingsworthy
28 days ago

This is surprising from the Poles who have seemed level-headed in recent times compared to their more wokist European peers, but then they are between Germany and Russia aren’t they?