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German plan to honour Poles killed in WWII may prove empty, says official

Stanislaw Zaryn: Poles were the first victims of German crimes
Tomasz Gzell/PAP

Poland’s deputy coordinator of the intelligence services has cast doubt on a German government initiative to honour Poles murdered by the Nazis in 1939-45, saying it may prove an empty gesture that distorts history.

Posting on X, Stanislaw Zaryn wrote: “If this initiative is to be part of a sincere plan to settle accounts with the past, that is good. However, it must meet several conditions.”

In his opinion, first of all, crimes should be treated not as part of the Holocaust, but as crimes against Poland.

He pointed out that “it was Poles and citizens of the Republic of Poland who were the first victims of German crimes. And it is the Polish victims who are waiting for the truth and reparations.”

According to Zaryn, one should talk about German crimes in 1939-45 and not as one of many different periods of Polish-German relations.

“No! It was a period of cruel crimes calculated to destroy the Polish nation. There is no room for blurring here,” Zaryn wrote.

Thirdly, he pointed out that the focus should be on the truth about German crimes against Poles, but should also concern the start of talks about compensation, without which, he believes, the project will be empty.

“The fourth condition is the participation of the Polish side, which is completely obvious. And this is real participation, which will assume the influence of the Republic of Poland on this project,” added Zaryn.

He also believes that the reports and attempts at interpretation so far do not provide certainty as to what the reasons behind the project are.

“The Germans may treat it as an excuse not to talk about settlements, and the whole matter may be an empty initiative that will manipulate history even more deeply,” he concluded.

On Tuesday, the German Minister of Culture, Claudia Roth, said that “the planned Polish-German House is to commemorate the suffering that took place in Poland in 1939-1945, as well as the cruel deaths of over 5 million Polish citizens, including about 3 million Jewish children, women and men.”

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