Minister Mularczyk in the UK’s Parliament: „Poland was never compensated after WW2”

Arkadiusz Mularczyk, Poland’s Deputy Foreign Minister, revisited London, where he participated in the unveiling ceremony of the exhibition titled: “The price of freedom: Polish losses during WW2”. The event took place in the UK’s Parliament.

The occasion was attended by eminent dignitaries, including HE Piotr Wilczek, Ambassador of Poland to the United Kingdom, HE Eitvydas Bajarūnas, Lithuanian Ambassador to the United Kingdom and numerous Members of the Commons and Lords, amongst them Daniel Kawczynski MP and Chair of the APPG on Poland, Justin Maciejewski, Director of the National Army Museum, Baroness Emma Nicholson, Lady Munster, Nicola Richards MP, Nia Griffin MP, Alex Sobel MP, Damien Moore MP, Steven Bonnar MP, Lord Ray Collins, Lord Brian Mackenzie, Lord Kevin Shinkwin. Journalists from the BBC, The Telegraph, The Guardian, GB News, and Conservative Home were also in attendance.

The exhibition. Photo: British Poles

The guests were greeted by the Adviser to APPG on Poland, George Byczynski.

The inaugural address was eloquently delivered by Conservative MP Daniel Kawczynski, who is the Chairman of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Poland and is notably the sole British MP born in Poland. In his impassioned speech, he said: „I am very happy that Warsaw and Poland generate such a great interest here, in the House of Commons. When we visit Poland with other MPs, we always take them to the Warsaw Uprising Museum. The parliamentarians can see at first-hand the sheer destruction of the city of my birth. No matter how often we go to this museum, we have goose bumps to see the visual evidence of what the Germans actually did to our capital city and their murderous brutality.”

Photo: British Poles

Daniel Kawczynski went on to recount a deeply personal narrative, that of Jan Kawczynski, his grandfather’s brother, who had hidden ea number of Jewish families on his estate during World War II in German-occupied Poland. First, the Germans made him take off his officer’s boots. Then they made him dig a grave. Then they made him watch as they shot his 12-year-old daughter. Then they shot his wife. Then they shot him. And his only crime was hiding his Jewish friends and neighbours. Poland was the only country in occupied Europe with the death penalty for hiding Jews.

From the left: George Byczynski, Adviser to APPG on Poland, Minister Arkadiusz Mularczyk, Dr. Robert Filipczak. Photo: Piotr Apolinarski

Kawczynski continued with poignant emotion, asserting: „Everybody in Poland who hid Jews knew the risque – not for themselves, but more importantly – for their children. It happened to many families in Poland; mine wasn’t exceptional. That’s why we need a debate about the war reparations because it is happening again in Ukraine. I would like to thank Minister Arkadiusz Mularek for consistently taking this issue of reparations for Poland on his shoulders. I am impressed by his integrity and determination”.Prof. Piotr Wilczek, the Polish Ambassador, was the next speaker to take the floor. He said: „Poland suffered immense losses during the Second World War. Our population was decimated, our infrastructure was ravaged, and our economy was in ruins. Yet, despite these staggering losses, we did not receive any redress in the aftermath of the war. Although the Potsdam Agreement acknowledged the obligations owed to Poland, the decision to channel them through the Soviet Union, which held a dominating influence over us, was grossly unjust. Consequently, my country never received the compensation it was rightfully entitled to. The 'Iron Curtain’ not only physically separated nations but also stifled our voice, denying Poland’s right to self-determination and equitable negotiation”.

The Polish Ambassador underscored the painstaking effort undertaken by the Polish government to quantify the war losses, as delineated in the “Report on the Losses Sustained by Poland as a Result of German Aggression and Occupation during the Second World War, 1939-1945”. The abridged version of The War Report in English is available here.

the Adviser to APPG on Poland,

„Nevertheless, our efforts for acknowledgement and compensation face challenges. Despite presenting our claims, Berlin maintains the stance that the issue of wartime compensation is ‘closed’. Yet, can justice ever truly have an expiration date? Can the profound pain and loss of a nation be simply archived as a chapter of the past? The Polish government remains resolute: the matter of compensation is far from being resolved. We firmly believe it is crucial for this issue to be addressed with the seriousness and attention it deserves. To this end, we are redoubling our efforts on international platforms and intensifying bilateral engagements. Our goal is clear: to illuminate Poland’s plight and to gather the necessary support for our cause” – added Ambassador Wilczek. His whole speech is available here.

Prof. Piotw Wiczek, the Polish Ambassador and Kasia Madera, BBC presenter. the Adviser to APPG on Poland,

The subsequent speaker, Justin Maciejewski, who serves as the Director of the National Army Museum, shared a poignant personal connection as his father had participated in the Warsaw Uprising alongside his twin brother, who tragically perished at the hands of the Germans in 1944. His poignant speech can be accessed on YouTube.

Minister Mularczyk, in his address, underscored the enormity of Poland’s wartime losses, stating: „Poland’s War Report, published in 2022, states that: approximately 5.2 million Poles died in WW2 at German hands: 3.2 million Polish Jews and 2 million non-Jewish Poles. The War Report also estimates that 21% of those who died were children and that 1 million babies were not born in Poland due to WW2. We also know that a further 6 million Poles were displaced because of the War. Poland’s total population loss was over 11.2 million. To put it another way, Poland lost at least 30% of its population.”

From the left: Mariusz Woźnia, the activist from London, Adam Gajkowski, the President of „Nasza Polonia” from Australia, Jan Badowski, the Director of the Department for Cooperation with Polonia and Poles Abroad at the Chancellery of the PM of Poland. Photo: Piotr Apolinarski

The total value of material losses, according to the Report, amounted to PLN 797.398 billion (USD 196.403 billion). All components of the value of material and demographic losses add up to total Polish losses of PLN 6,220,609 million, which at the end of 2021 amounts to USD 1,532,170 million. The abridged version of The War Report in English is available here.

In Poland’s case, the War Report shows that Poland’s GDP was reduced by 50% after WW2 and that it took Polish people almost 4 decades to drag Poland to where it was in 1939. Almost 4 lost decades that could have been spent growing and developing – perhaps now being – despite Soviet rule – the 3rd or 4th largest economy in Europe today.

The exhibition. Photo: British Poles

Minister Mularczyk added: „I am here today to also talk about the future. Poland did recover. Poland is succeeding. Poland is now a key strategic partner in Eastern Europe and will soon have Europe’s largest army. We must look to the future and that future involves reconciliation and a stronger relationship with Germany. But I know that Poland and Germany have to resolve this issue together. We have asked Germany to enter into talks and begin this process. However, Germany refuses to enter into dialogue. This refusal is visible and causes unnecessary tensions in the region. To move forward together we have to resolve the past that still affects Poland today.”

Poland has never received any compensation for the material and immaterial losses for the unlawful German attack in September 1939 and the subsequent German occupation.

Minister Arkadiusz Mularczyk and the organisers. Photo: Piotr Apolinarski

Minister Mularczyk stressed: „Lack of compensation affects Poland today. Every Pole and everybody with Polish roots today is connected to WW2. This creates the general sense that Poland has not received justice after WW2 and with domestic cross-party support and constant support in the polls, this feeling will not simply disappear. However, I am here today to also talk about the future. Poland did recover. Poland is succeeding. Poland is now a key strategic partner in Eastern Europe and will soon have Europe’s largest army (…) We are steadfast in our belief that it is possible to find a mutually acceptable resolution and I hope that, with the United Kingdom’s help, Poland and Germany can enter into talks and set an example to the rest of the world.”

Minister Arkadiusz Mularczyk and Justin Maciejewski, the Director of the National Army Museum. Photo: British Poles

Paweł Pawłowski, who represented the Independent Research Group Fundation and the Transatlantic Alliance Fundation,  organisations that created the exhibition, said: “Show no mercy! Be brutal! The destruction of Poland is our first task”. On August 22, 1939 Adolf Hitler delivered these words to Wehrmacht officers gathered in Obersalzberg. The Germans showed all their commitment and precision in fulfilling Fuhrer’s order. Poland suffered losses that are still shocking in their cruelty and enormity. Sadly the German Federal Republic do not feel obliged to compensate these horrible acts.

Prof. Piotr Wilczek, the Polish Ambassador and the organisers. From the left: Eliasz Grubiński, Paweł Pawłowski, Liliana Śmiech. Photo: Piotr Apolinarski

Eliasz Grubiński, another co-organiser, added: “Millions were killed. Yet, Germany has never paid for its crimes, not even a penny. That’s why I believe it’s our highest obligation to demand war reparations from Germany.”

The speeches on Polish historical wounds, coupled with the profoundly moving exhibition, left an indelible mark upon the esteemed attendees. The Independent Research Group Foundation (Niezależny Zespół Badawczy) and the Transatlantic Alliance Foundation prepared the exhibition with materials sourced from the Institute of Polish War Losses and the Polish National Foundation. The exhibition is held under the honorary patronage of Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, Minister of Culture and National Heritage Prof. Piotr Gliński and the Polish Foreign Ministry.

Maria Byczynski

Cover photo: British Poles