The Report on The Losses Sustained By Poland as a Result of German Aggression and Occupation During the Second World War, edited by Lidia A. Zyblikiewicz and Konrad Wnek. 2022. Jan Karski Institute of War Losses, Warsaw
Analysis by Jan Peczkis
Poland War Losses: A Detailed and Solid Case For Long-Overdue German Reparations to Poland
If you think that only the Jews suffered during WWII, as we are usually led to think, and that Poles were just bystanders, be prepared for a shock. This volume provides detail upon detail of German crimes against Poles, as well as the long-term legacy of Poland’s vast losses. Because there is so much in this book (Volume I), I focus on items not well developed by other authors.
Note that Volume I consists of text; Volume II is photographs, and Volume III is a detailed tabulation of thousands of different known localities in Poland where Germans murdered Poles. It is obvious that every possible location in Poland was very close to a site of Poles being murdered, and this helps us understand why Poles were traumatized into obeying German orders–as to betray fugitive Jews. Whether or not it was specifically related to fugitive Jews, the German terror against Poles was a daily reality, and not some kind of abstract danger that happened somewhere else.
GERMANY IS NOT OFF THE HOOK BECAUSE OF THE MYTHICAL AGREEMENT OF 1953
The German position has consistently been that Germany does not owe Poland anything because Poland renounced all reparation claims in 1953. This is not only nonsense: It is cynical nonsense.
Jaroslaw Kaczynski plainly said, “Moreover, I must add that contrary to what Germans say, Poland has never renounced its right to reparations from Germany. The unilateral declaration made by the Council of Ministers on 23 August 1953 had no legal effect because it was never published in any of the Polish official gazettes or journals, nor was it ever entered in the United Nations registers. Furthermore, some legal experts assert that it contravened the provisions of the Polish Constitution in force at the time.” (pdf p. 7).
Arkadiusz Mularczyk adds that, “The alleged unilateral declaration of the Council of Ministers of 23 August 1953 on the renunciation of war reparations by the Polish People’s Republic contravened the Polish Constitution of 22 July 1952 in force at the time, which ruled that the ratification and termination of international treaties lay within the powers of the Council of State, not the Council of Ministers. The unilateral declaration was forced upon the Polish government under the pressure from the USSR. In addition, according to the minutes of the meeting of the Council of Ministers held on 19 August 1953, the waiver applied only to the German Democratic Republic.” (p. 40).
GERMANS AND NOT SOME NEBULOUS “NAZIS” ARE RESPONSIBLE
The customary exculpatory construct, of dichotomizing Germans and Nazis, will not do. Robert Jastrzebski makes this clear:
“Pursuant to Article 3 of the fourth Hague Convention of 1907 concerning the laws and customs of war on land, which was signed also by Germany, a belligerent party shall be responsible for all acts committed by persons forming part of its armed forces. To this day, this obligation has not been fulfilled by Germany in respect of Poland.” (p. 503).
SOVIET-ERA GERMAN REPARATIONS TO POLAND CANNOT EVEN BE DIGNIFIED AS A FARCE
After the war, Poland was supposed to get a meager 15% of the German reparations that the Soviet Union got on behalf of itself and Poland. Even that did not happen. Poland was cheated out of her tiny share by the USSR, which simultaneously insisted that Poland sell coal to the USSR at artificially low prices. This meant that the “deal” actually caused a net loss for Poland. Mularczyk comments, “These prices were almost ten times lower than the world price for coal at that time. The loss Poland sustained from supplying coal at such a low price has been estimated at US $836 million, according to the world prices for coal in 1956. The Soviet Union made the payment of Poland’s reparations conditional on the coal deliveries at fixed prices. The effect of this meant that Poland’s losses on the value of the coal it exported to the USSR offset the benefits it obtained from reparations. In 1945-1956, Poland’s absolute political dependence on the Soviet Union was also accompanied by full economic dependence.” (p. 29).
JUSTICE TO POLAND HAS BEEN ALL BUT FORGOTTEN
Most people do not have a clue about what Germany owes Poland. Mularczyk writes, “Germany’s policy on Poland since the end of the War could be summed up as ‘keep quiet, outwait, forget’. At the same time, the international community had and unfortunately still has no or limited knowledge, or even an erroneous notion of the scale of the war damage and plunder Poland suffered, and its effects on Poland’s potential to develop. This general lack of awareness fully justifies the need for a new and detailed reappraisal of Poland’s losses as an outcome of the Second World War.” (p. 20).
THE OVERATTENTION TO THE JEWS’ HOLOCAUST HAS THWARTED JUSTICE FOR POLAND
There is no way around the fact that this is a zero-sum game. If one genocide gets nearly all the attention, then other genocides will be almost nonexistent in the public consciousness. And that is exactly how it is. Mularczyk states that, “That is why today, many people only associate Poland with the place where the Holocaust of the Jewish people was perpetrated. There is no solid knowledge among the general public of the martyrdom of Poles and other citizens of the Second Polish Republic who were exterminated, deported to concentration camps and exploited as slaves of the ‘nation of masters’; similarly, the extent of the losses and their consequences for contemporary Polish citizens remains incomprehensible.” (p. 34).
THE POLISH DEATH TOLL IS QUITE UNCERTAIN, BUT CAN BE CONSIDERABLY GREATER THAN USUALLY STATED
There is currently no “magic number” for the Polish death toll, and for good reason. Scholar Konrad Wnek writes, “Poland suffered the highest relative population loss of the Second World War, in comparison to the losses of other belligerents. However, an accurate determination of the number of victims has been and still is a daunting task both for historians and demographers. The basic problem is the mass migration that took place both during and after the War. Difficulties connected with the accurate determination of its scale will continue to make estimates of population loss a debatable issue.” (p. 105). So, the uncertainties in estimates are inherent in the data, and not the product of some presumed nefarious Polish manipulations, as sometimes insinuated.
Konrad Wnek concludes, “Poland suffered a huge population loss during the Second World War as a result of Germany’s deliberate and consistent policy to devastate the people of Poland biologically and thus, acquire Lebensraum (‘more space to live’) in the east for Germans. As an outcome of Germany’s policy, 5,219,053 Polish citizens were murdered, and by the end of the War, the Polish population had fallen about 11.4 million.” (p. 147). Pointedly, the “ceiling” for Polish population losses, at 11.4 million, is much higher than any quoted “official” figure. For more on the 11.4 million figure, see:
The 1947 official figure of Polish War losses was 6.08 million people (Wnek, p. 104): 3 million Jews and 3 million Poles. Some have argued for a lower figure for Polish losses, as, for example, (surprise) the USHMM (United States Holocaust Memorial Museum) admitting only 1.9 million Polish deaths. However, in any case, the figure for the deaths of Polish Jews can also be lowered (from 3.0–3.1 million to as low as 2.7 million). See:
GERMANS ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR THE OCCASIONAL POLISH ACTS AGAINST JEWS
Quite a few Holocaust narratives have presented Polish killings of Jews in a Judeocentric contextual vacuum. It is almost as if the Germans did not exist, and the Poles were merrily living more-or-less normal lives while they were going after Jews. And then some Jews had a conniption when they were informed that it was because of German policies that some Poles had acted against Jews. It was a bitter pill to swallow.
Pointedly, Jews may not like it, but German responsibility for Polish acts under the German occupation is the case. This is no opinion: It is international law! Mularczyk writes, “Occupying Power’s Responsibility for Occupied Territories – Article 43 of the 1907 Hague Convention on the Laws and Customs of War on Land: ‘the authority of the legitimate power having in fact passed into the hands of the occupant, the latter shall take all the measures in his power to restore, and ensure, as far as possible, public order and safety, while respecting, unless absolutely prevented, the laws in force in the country…” (p. 24).
This can be generalized. Mularczyk comments, “The Third German Reich is also responsible for the mass murders committed by other nations against citizens of the Republic of Poland in the areas under German occupation.” (p. 22).
Finally, Poles are not favored by this kind of thinking any more than others are. Wnek writes, “Another issue connected with Germany’s occupation of Poland is the legal accountability for the massacre of the Polish inhabitants of the eastern parts of Poland perpetrated by Ukrainian nationalists, known as the Volhynian Slaughter (rzeź wołyńska)…Yet since the agency accountable for public security of the region’s inhabitants was Germany, the occupying power…” (p. 110. Emphasis added).
POLES AND NOT ONLY JEWS SUFFERED LONG-TERM DEMOGRAPHIC LOSSES
We keep hearing about the demographic losses resulting from the Holocaust (e. g, how many Jews would there be alive today were it not for the Holocaust). We hear about the new Albert Einsteins that were never born, but of course we never hear about the new Nicholas Copernicuses that had never been born.
Wnek breaks new ground as he writes:
“The shortfall was most evident in the number of births. 41.616 million children were born in Poland in 1946-2020, whereas, according to the demographic forecast, the number of births should have been 52.061 million, i.e. 10.445 million more than the actual figure. This was due to three basic reasons: the murder of the cohort of potential parents who could have had children during and after the War, a smaller population of women born between 1940-1945, and the loss of Polish citizens who found themselves beyond the country’s borders in 1945. Even if we were to assume that most of this shortfall was caused by migration, Germany would still be accountable for 40.5% of the lost births, viz. 4.230 million individuals who were never born but could have been born in Poland, worked in Poland and later started families of their own if it had not been for Germany’s invasion and reign of terror in Poland in 1939-1945. If it had not been for German aggression, the synergy effect on Poland’s economy would have been even greater.” (pp. 140-142).
CONTRARY TO HOLOCAUST NARRATIVES, POLES AND NOT ONLY JEWS WERE TARGETED BIOLOGICALLY
The many advocates of Holocaust supremacy insist that, whereas Jews were all to be exterminated [not true], the Poles were killed only when they broke German rules, and that Poles as a whole were to be “only” made into slaves. Not so. The Germans targeted Poles merely for being Polish just as they targeted Jews merely for being Jewish. (How far these German genocidal policies would actually have proceeded, had Germany won the war, is anybody’s guess.)
Just because the German targeting of Poles was generally in the form of passive genocide, it does not make it any less real. Wnek writes, “The German authorities of occupied Poland used various political and legal measures to diminish the local population. Although Poland’s population was reduced not only by murder per se, the imposition of inferior living conditions and deprivation of proper nutrition led to a rising mortality rate, intended in the first place to hit children, about 169 thousand of whom were killed in this way, willfully and with scientific precision.” (p. 147).
German genocidal policies against Poles were especially noticeable when done to those Poles deported to the Third Reich for forced labor. The deportations went far beyond the Third Reich’s labor needs. Wnek comments, “The Germans realized that Polish women and young girls were a demographic threat to the ‘master race.’ For example, the governor of Łódź wrote of the advantages of deporting women to Germany: ‘the aim of these measures is to curtail illegal procreation by racially inferior women and girls by barracking them all together during their time in the Old Reich.’ Another issue is that many Polish women who were slave laborers were forced to have an abortion, and if they refused and gave birth to a child in Germany, it was taken away from them. If the ‘National-Socialist Welfare’ institution deemed the child sufficiently ‘Aryan,’ it was given to a German family to bring up. Children who were declared ‘subhuman’ were placed in special nurseries where most died of hunger, disease, or lack of hygiene. Infant mortality for Polish babies in Germany was 50%, and it was artificially induced.” (p. 133. Emphasis in original).
POLAND WAR LOSSES. TELLING IT LIKE IT IS: POLES WERE SUBJECT TO GENOCIDE
Ironic to the Judeocentric talking point that Poles were “only” to be made into slaves, this kind of thinking was rejected long ago. Tomasz Ceran discusses pioneer Raphael Lemkin, the Polish Jew who coined the term genocide. Ceran writes, “Lemkin was one of the first to realize that Germany’s aim was not only to occupy a given territory but also to exterminate specific national or ethnic groups inhabiting it solely on the grounds of their nationality or ethnicity. The terminology in use up to that time, words like ‘Germanization,’ was inadequate because it fell short of giving an accurate description of the situation, implying that all that Germany intended to do was to impose German cultural models on the people of Poland but let them stay alive. Yet that is not an accurate description of the situation that developed in Poland as soon as Germany invaded and occupied the country in 1939.” (p. 93). Hear that, Holocaust supremacists?