Wednesday, August 04, 2004

Germans seek property from Poland

The Prussian Claims Society (Preußische Treuhand), in a move that will be seen as grossly insensitive and divisive, will seek the return of property confiscated by Poland. The property belonged to Germans who were forced to resettle after WWII, leaving territory that was once part of Prussia but had become part of Poland in compensation for the Polish territory that was awarded to USSR.

Since reunification, many Germans have sought restitution of property of which they had been dispossessed. Millions were forced to move from East Prussia. They were a celebrated group in the early BRD and received special aid. The displaced Germans remained a cohesive and conscious group within German politics, maintaining their own small political party.

The Claims Society intends to press claims in Polish courts, and if they are dismissed, in EU courts. Schröder said that he could not "turn history on its head": the property losses were just in the light of the war that Germany had waged. He resolved to prevent restitution:
Property issues related to World War II are no longer a subject of controversy between our two governments ... Neither the German government nor any other serious political force supports any restitution claims still being voiced. This is our position, and we won’t hesitate to make this position clear before international courts, if need be.
Furthermore, the Claims Society intends to seek the return of property from Czech Republic (when it was Czechoslovakia). The process resembles the efforts to have property in former East Germany returned--a process that was counter to the spirit of reunification as elucidated by Helmut Kohl.

The Claims Society leader,
Rudi Pawelka, insists that they do not want to start a dispute and they do not want to make Poles homeless. Reassurances have not calmed Poles, for obvious reasons. Moreover, Pawelka insists that the societies efforts are based on those of Jewish organizations. The comparison has angered Jews as hurtful.


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