Poland preparing claim on looted art treasures

27th August 2007, Comments 0 comments

Poland preparing position on art treasures looted in WWII

26 August 2007

Warsaw (dpa) - Poland is preparing to try to regain billions of dollars worth of Polish cultural treasures lost or looted during Nazi Germany's Second World War occupation, according to Polish Foreign Minister Anna Fotyga.

On the issue of German cultural treasures which remained in Poland after the Second World War, Fotyga pointed out Monday they were not looted by Poles, but rather left behind by fleeing Nazi forces.

"In accordance with international law, they belong to Poland," Fotyga said in an interview published in Poland's liberal Gazeta Wyborcza daily.

"Moreover, estimates reveal that we could make much greater claims," she said responding to a recent German suggestion Poland should return German art treasures it gained after the war.

"We estimate our losses at over 20 billion dollars - please count how many works of art this amounts to," Fotyga said.

Poland is preparing a position on Polish art lost and looted under Nazi Germany's occupation, the minister confirmed.

But above all, Fotyga insists Poland wants a joint declaration with Germany confirming there is no legal basis for compensation claims by ethnic Germans for properties lost after the war in what is now north-east Poland.

"The last declaration of Chancellor Merkel confirming expert legal opinions on this matter is not enough," according to Fotyga.

"We would like to see this strengthened with the statement that these claims have no basis in Polish, German and international law. Thanks to this we would be safer regarding property matters."

Controversy has erupted in Poland over legal efforts by an organisation representing ethnic Germans to regain properties lost after the war when they fled or were expelled from Eastern Europe in the wake of Nazi Germany's defeat.

Poles who settled the properties after the war, now fear the could lose their homes to their former German owners or their heirs.

DPA

Subject: German news

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