Kwasniewski warns Poles, Germansnot to reopen old wounds

29th September 2004, Comments 0 comments

29 September 2004 , WARSAW - Amid a heated row over compensation for losses dating from the Second World War, Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski warned Poles and Germans not to pick at historical wounds which if reopened could fester and poison post-war reconciliation. This could spark reactions which we would be unable to control," Kwasniewski said in an interview with Bild and Fakt, two top circulation tabloid newspapers in Germany and Poland respectively. It could cause incalculable damage for both

29 September 2004

WARSAW - Amid a heated row over compensation for losses dating from the Second World War, Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski warned Poles and Germans not to pick at historical wounds which if reopened could fester and poison post-war reconciliation.

This could spark reactions which we would be unable to control," Kwasniewski said in an interview with Bild and Fakt, two top circulation tabloid newspapers in Germany and Poland respectively. It could cause incalculable damage for both countries," he said.

The Polish leader however described a controversial resolution by the Polish parliament obligating the government to seek war reparations from Germany as being partly right.

"I understood it as a conscious response to the claims for compensation which have appeared in Germany and which have caused uncertainty in Poland," he noted.

On 10 September the Polish parliament passed a resolution requiring the Polish government to seek war reparations from Germany for the massive human and material damage Poland suffered under five years of Nazi occupation during WWII.

The move caused consternation in Germany, but it came in reaction to plans by a group of German citizens to launch civil lawsuits against Poland demanding compensation for properties they lost after the war as expellees.

The threat of legal action by the Prussian Trustees" sparked a mixture of outrage and anxiety in Poland over what was perceived as an underhanded attempt to make Poles pay for losses ultimately caused by Nazi Germanys WWII attack on Poland.

Both the German and Polish governments have declared the issue of civil compensation for WWII-era property losses and war reparations between states closed once and for all. The declaration has been backed up by the creation of a joint Polish-German legal team to fight any lawsuits that may appear in court.

Kwasniewski also praised German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder for his public guarantee that Germany will never support any compensation claims against Poland.

In other words: we cannot change history, but we can learn from it. We can move forward together and separate the horrific past from what we Poles and Germans want to build in Europe," he said, insisting that Polish-German relations were still very good" despite the compensation row.

According to Kwasniewski Poland and Germany have the closest contacts" in both politics and the economy where Germany figures as Polands largest trade partner.

But the Polish leader admitted unresolved and unexamined issues dating from the Second World War still haunt bilateral relations.

We cannot ignore or get lost in discussion of the history of the last war. But above all Poles and Germans cannot forget one thing: the greatest war in the history of civilisation, the Second World War was caused by fascist Germany. This is the foundation on which all discussions between our countries are based," Kwasniewski said.

We are not questioning the ordeal experienced by German expellees, but we do see it in a historical context. It is the following: this history did not begin from the expulsion of Germans (from Poland) in 1945, but from the Anschluss (annexation) of Austria by Germany, the occupation of Czechoslovakia by German armies and Nazi Germanys attack on Poland," Kwasniewski concluded.

DPA

Subject: German news
 

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