Łukasz Szpyrka, Interia: Why do you need the Polish State Institute for War Losses?
Arkadiusz Mularczyk: Because conducting scientific research aimed at determining and describing the social, demographic and economic effects of the Second World War for the Republic of Poland should be an important element of the historical policy of our state. Each responsible state pursues such a policy. Despite the passage of over 80 years since the beginning of World War II, Polish society has still not learned about the economic consequences of the war for the country, as well as for ourselves, our families or our local communities. An important element of our policy is an attempt to assess the economic consequences of World War II. Since the end of World War II, several such attempts have been made to estimate war losses. The largest study was the report from 1947 prepared by the War Compensation Office at the Prime Minister. At that time, BOW estimated the losses of Poland at 258 billion zlotys at that time, i.e. 48 billion dollars at that time. This amount, subject to revaluation in 2018, amounted to USD 886 billion. However, the international situation, mainly the Soviet occupation, meant that there were no political and legal instruments to enforce state but also individual claims. In the following years, until 1989, several more attempts were made, but they were not successful, which shows the scale of the challenge that faces every team that undertakes such a great attempt.
Would it be a success to provide specific amounts and their enforcement?
– I believe that it will be a success if we effectively change social awareness in Poland and in the world, especially in Germany, in an effective way with our work. Certainly, such an important element will be the publication of a report with a description and evaluation of demographic and material losses. It should be emphasized that so far there has been absolutely no atmosphere for talks with Germany about reparations. Until 1989, Poland did not pursue a sovereign policy. However, after 1989, the Polish state was subjected to the process of economic colonization by Germany, which, also through the system of grants and scholarships for the world of science, made the vast majority of influential politicians, historians or lawyers specializing in Polish-German relations dependent on themselves. On the fingers of one hand, we can identify those who loudly and boldly claimed that Poland was entitled to any compensation for the war crimes committed by Germany in Poland. However, several attempts were made to estimate losses at the city level. In 2004, the president of Warsaw, the late Lech Kaczyński prepared a report on the war losses of the city of Warsaw. It was calculated that in 2004 they amounted to 56 billion 600 million dollars, this amount was then increased by 20 percent. as a result of additional estimates. It was similar in other cities, e.g. in Poznań or Łódź. After 1989, when Poland tried to join NATO and the EU, the topic of reparations was probably not raised for these reasons as well. Such a policy was also convenient for the Germans.
Until your government came and decided to irritate the Germans.
– It’s not about teasing, but demanding fair relations and settlements with Poland. After all, Germany talks so much about the rule of law and the rule of law. Unfortunately, it must be made clear that these principles often apply to others rather than to themselves. If today Germany wants to pay African countries for the time of colonialism that took place at the beginning of the century, why does it not want to pay Poland and Poles for the war crimes they committed not so long ago on Polish soil? Isn’t that racism?
You believe that Germany’s policy is not symmetrical. Why?
– Germany defends its economic interests and the state budget. They are aware that a fair approach to mutual settlements would involve very large damages. We are not talking about the funds that Poland receives from the European Union today, but about much higher amounts.
What is the amount?
– The scale of demographic and economic losses inflicted during the Second World War may nowadays be a multiple of the Polish budget. However, I do not want to dazzle with sums today, let’s wait for the results of the report.
Deputy Minister Jarosław Sellin once said that our losses reached one trillion zlotys.
– Perhaps the deputy minister’s statement resulted from a repetition of the amount of losses from the BOW report from 1947, i.e. $ 886 billion. These were not, however, accurate contemporary calculations, but an indexation of old calculations. Returning to the Germans, however, they deliberately blur the memory of the Second World War. For example, they created the concept of the Nazis, although we know that the Germans were responsible for these crimes. Many people in the world today do not think that the Nazis are Germans. All these German policies aimed at blurring the memory of their responsibility, firstly to build a strong economic position and secondly as a country that respects the standards of liberal democracy and the rule of law. Therefore, this topic, as inconvenient for Germany, was pushed out of the country’s international agenda.
Now he has changed climate?
– Our political environment sees that this issue has not been settled in bilateral relations to this day and that it brings negative relations for Poland in the world. The Germans only apologize and ask for forgiveness. However, this does not involve any real redress. Unfortunately, this is pure fiction and a feigned friendship. If we treat someone as a partner, we should settle our liabilities. The Germans, however, approach the matter in such a way that if they lost the territories of western Poland, the topic is closed. But it is not, because Poland lost Kresy as a result of the war. As long as Germany does not want to talk about compensation not only public, but also individual. Let us remember that after the war, almost every Polish family did not have any financial resources, and many compatriots started their lives from scratch, often with disabilities and trauma after suffering. That is why it is so difficult for Poland and Poles to join the richer societies of Western Europe so quickly.
Is the parliamentary team report ready?
– A lot of it. It is still being updated, it must be supplemented with new elements, especially with issues related to the description of the Soviet occupation.
It is possible that over time you will want to apply for reparations from Russia?
– These are political decisions. Our report provides the basis for a comprehensive look at war losses, both in terms of demographics, property and material, inflicted primarily by the Germans, but we cannot omit the description of the starts caused by Russia.
The prime minister said the report was to be ready in February.
“If he said so, we’ll do whatever it takes to get him ready.” The decision to publish it will certainly be made by the leadership of our formation.
If the parliamentary team is still active, why are you setting up a new Institute?
– The Institute aims to conduct further educational and scientific research, as well as develop international relations. The area of activity is huge. The effects of the Second World War are still felt today in every area of our public, social and economic life. Scientific publications should be published on this subject. Issues related to Jewish property are also emotional, so this too should be researched and explained. Public opinion in Poland and in the world does not know many topics, and it is the duty of the Polish state to research these matters and explain them scientifically. It should also be remembered that the Germans do not have the moral right to instruct Poland, to question the alleged lack of the rule of law, in a situation when they themselves are burdened with guilt that they have not yet accounted for. Unless these attacks are related to the raising of the issue of war reparations by Poland.
You recently posted on Twitter that someone from Germany reported to Twitter that your informational tweet violates German law. However, Twitter did not consider this intervention justified.
– This is a significant situation. You can see that there are circles in Germany concerned about recalling the facts about the Second World War, which are closely monitoring my profile. I felt it was worth disclosing this information.
Coming back to the institute – is he to deal with the enforcement of the amounts that you will disclose in the report?
– The Institute will continue the research work started in the parliamentary team. I am aware that we have done a gigantic job, but this is still only the beginning.
They will beginteak? If, after all these years, you say this is just the beginning, how long will it take?
– The issue of the effects of the Second World War has never been effectively researched and popularized at all. It needs to be changed, because it is an important element of state policy.
Who will be members of the Institute Council?
– The prime minister will make the decision in this regard.
Members of the parliamentary team will be thereu?
– These are the decisions of the Prime Minister. I do not want to fall into his competences.
Are you going to be the director of the new institute?
– No, I won’t.
The Prime Minister recently spoke to the new German Chancellor, Olaf Scholz, and raised the topic of reparations. How did you react to the answer Scholza?
– For the first time in decades, the issue has been raised in public at such a high level. This is a breakthrough. The foreign minister also discussed this with his counterpart. Today, Germany is fully aware that this political problem exists and should be resolved if they care about good relations with Poland and their image in Europe and in the world.
Łukasz Szpyrka interviewed