The Advocate

Old war anger rises in Europe

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The date is Sept. 1, 1939, and German forces are charging across the Polish border against weak resistance, and in a month the Nazi flag will fly over Warsaw, bringing the Holocaust to Poland.

Now imagine millions of Polish Jews in concentration camps suffering for six years until the Soviets liberate them in 1944 and 1945. It is this, along with the destruction of Poland, that today, over 70 years later, that the Polish government is deciding whether or not to mail the Germans an $850 million bill for the damages they caused.

“This is a Polish-Germany issue, I mean it was Germany who invaded Poland, murdering millions of people, destroying material goods, and we must be compensated for this,” Jaroslaw Kaczynski, leader of the Polish Law and Justice party, stated on Polish radio.

The problem is, after WWII, Allied officials were worried that the USSR would demand money from Germany, putting Germany back into an economic depression like it was after WWI, which allowed Hitler to take power leading to the second war. When the officials had a conference, the USSR agreed to take payment from resources and land from East Germany and agreed to no more. Since Poland was under the Iron Curtain, this means they agreed to the same concessions that it would take land from East Prussia and that Polish-Jews would be paid for the suffering they faced during the Holocaust.

“Poland made a binding decision in August 1953…to relinquish demands for further war reparations…this issue was therefore settled both legally and politically,” German spokesman Steffen Seibert stated in an article published by RT. With this agreement, it means Germany has already paid Poland its war debt with money to Polish victims.

One example of this in the past was in 2015 when Greece tried the same thing, asking for 303 billion euros (about $350 million). During this argument, the same problem came up. In 1960, Germany paid Greece 115,000,000 Deutsch marks (nearly $70 million) for war damages.

Personally, I can see both sides of this issue. For Germany, they in a way paid for the atrocities that the Nazis did while they occupied Poland. And for Poland, Germany really didn’t pay Poland in money, and what they got may have been enough. In my opinion, though, I have to go with Germany. I’m not siding with what the Nazis did while they were there, but after the war, the land they got from Germany helped rebuild Poland with the natural resources it has. Along with that, Polish people who survived the Holocaust were paid for the things that happened to them during the Holocaust.

For right now this decision could take months, maybe even years. For right now we will just have to wait and see what comes out of this.

About the Writer
George Smith, Reporter

George is a senior at Washington High School, and this is his first year on staff. He likes to learn about WWII history and play Halo.

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Old war anger rises in Europe