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


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 a “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 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 European Parliament positions and the upcoming autumn elections for Polish parliament seats have returned the subject of restitution to the news.

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, is an act approved by the U.S. Congress one year ago. It’s a push to ensure that people who survived World War II — or their heirs — receive compensation for their losses, if that has not already happened.

According to the law, the U.S. secretary of state is to prepare a progress 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, three million Polish Jews and nearly two million Polish citizens of other faiths were murdered.

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