Poland won’t pay WWII property compensation because Poles were greatest victims, PM says

Katarzyna Markusz

WARSAW, Poland (JTA) – Poland’s prime minister declared that his government will not pay compensation for property lost during World War II since, he said, Poles were the war’s major victim.

Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki made the statement on Saturday during the “patriotic picnic” in the town of Pultusk in central Poland.

“We were the most murdered victims here during the Second World War and we will never agree to any payments for anyone for this reason, any compensation,” Morawiecki said

Polish authorities are in the process of restitution of the property of pre-war Jewish communities, returning Jewish cemeteries, synagogues and other sacral buildings to Jewish communities. This process does not apply to private property. Individuals may apply for restitution of property or damages in Polish courts.

The current electoral campaign for the European Parliament and the upcoming autumn elections to Polish parliament have led to the return of the subject of restitution.

On May 1, a march of nationalist organizations took place in Warsaw, where marchers expressed their opposition to restitution, pinning badges with crossed out number 447 to their clothes.

“Law 447,” called Justice for Uncompensated Survivors Today, or JUST, was approved by the U.S. Congress one year ago. Its aim is to ensure that people who survived the World War II – or their heirs – receive compensation for their losses if it has not already happened.

According to this law, the U.S. secretary of state is to prepare report by this year on the situation of property left behind during the war in 46 countries, including Poland. The report is to show how a given country has resolved this issue.

During World War II, 3 million Polish Jews and 1.8 million Polish citizens of other faiths were murdered.