British MP urges Germany to pay Poland war damages

Daniel Kawczynski, a member of Britain's House of Commons, on Monday sent an open letter to German Chancellor Angela Merkel, calling on her government to pay war reparations to Poland.

Writing "as a British Member of Parliament and on behalf of many of the Anglo-Polish community", Kawczynski urged the German government to "drop its opposition to the payment of reparations to Poland for the immense death and destruction during World War II".

The Conservative party MP, a former adviser to ex-Prime Minister David Cameron and currently head of the Polish-British cross-party group, rejected the view that in 1953, Poland had waived its reparation claims, noting at the time the country "was not in sovereign control of its own territory and was coerced into doing so by foreign pressure from Moscow".

Another document which could be seen as a renunciation of war damages, from 1990, was "made by the occupying powers and East and West Germany at a time when Poland was preoccupied with beginning the transition from five decades of authoritarian communist rule toward democracy", the British MP pointed out.

Kawczynski outlined the damage done to Poland in WW2, with "six million people having lost their lives, including 200,000 citiziens during the Warsaw Uprising (see: NOTE), and the subsequent installment of a Soviet-controlled communist government that lasted 44 years."

The British MP added "during this long period, Poles were denied not only their political freedom but also the opportunity to participate in the economic reconstruction of Europe under the Marshall Plan"

Noting the Polish Sejm (lower house) had recently "calculated the economic cost of the death and destruction inflicted by the war to be about USD 1

trillion", the British MP assessed, however, that "the human and political cost of the years of dictatorship and subjugation is incalculable", and that, in fact, "Poland's demand for reparations is far smaller than the total sum that the country and its people were forced to endure for fifty long years between 1939 and 1989".

"Chancellor Merkel - Kawczynski went on - the shadow of World War II and the decades of subjugation to foreign control runs deep".

Citing the German government's ongoing policy of compensating Jewish WW2 victims, under the Luxembourg Treaty (with Israel) of 1952, Kawczynski pointed out that about half of the six million who died in Poland were of Jewish descent, calling on Chancellor Merkel "to accept that Germany has a moral obligation to pay reparations for the World War II destruction of Poland".

"Germany's relations with Poland - and with the rest of Europe - cannot be based on grave historical injustices and a stubborn refusal to redress the wrongs of the past", the British MP wrote, urging the German Chancellor "to translate words into action to demonstrate that Germany is committed to equitable relations with its neighbours based on mutual respect and understanding".

"Anything less will be a travesty for the final few war veterans whose entire lives were defined by the horrors unleashed by Adolf Hitler", Kawczynski concluded.

The British MP's letter to Merkel was also sent to German Foreign Minister Siegmar Gabriel and the country's ambassador to Britain, Peter Ammon.

Source: PAP