Prussian Claims Society want their Property in Poland back.
Germans file WWII claims against Poland
BERLIN - A group of Germans kicked out of Poland after World War II want restitution for lost property, arguing in a complaint that their human rights were violated when Eastern Europe's boundaries were redrawn and they were driven from their homes. The case has put fresh strains on German-Polish ties — a relationship still troubled by painful memories of Nazi brutalities.The Prussian Claims Society complaint filed with the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg in November stems from territorial rearrangements reached after the war by the victorious Allies — the United States, Great Britain and the Soviet Union — at the 1945 Potsdam conference.The Potsdam agreement gave large parts of eastern Germany to Poland, and the Germans living there were forced to leave. Large parts of eastern Poland ultimately went to the Soviet Union."The expulsion of the German population, according to some international legal experts, amounted to genocide, or at least to crimes against humanity with the purpose of dispossessing them of property without any compensation," the Prussian Claims Society said Friday.The group — which represents about 1,000 people, a small number compared to the 2.5 million Germans expelled from Poland — has filed 22 individual complaints and eventually plans as many as 50, said its deputy leader, Gerwald Stanko.The campaign has been a focus of public debate in Poland, which Nazi Germany invaded in 1939 at the start of World War II and subjected to a brutal occupation. Some 6 million Poles — about half of them Jewish — were killed in the war, often in concentration camps like Auschwitz and Treblinka that the Nazis set up in occupied Poland."I see filing the claims as a highly immoral action," said Krzysztof Zwierzynski, a 55-year-old scientist in Warsaw. "The balance of losses is obvious. The Germans inflicted such losses and damage that they should not dare demand anything from Poland."It's a stance that has the full agreement of German Chancellor Angela Merkel and her predecessor Gerhard Schroeder, both of whom have spoken out against the drive by the Prussian Claims Society.In 2004, a joint Polish-German commission ruled that there was no legal foundation for claims by Germans to property in today's Poland.Nonetheless, the cause still provokes anger in Poland, coming amid general German interest in examining the pain their nation suffered during the heavy Allied bombardment of German cities or in the vengeance inflicted on the 12.5 million Germans driven from Eastern Europe after the war.That amounts to a change from the long-standing tendency to focus exclusively on German crimes — and a development Poles fear could be a first step in a rewriting of history that would lessen German responsibility for the destruction inflicted on Poland.Polish President Lech Kaczynski said the legal move would "initiate some very dangerous processes.""I also express hope that the court in Strasbourg will adopt the right stance on the claims," Kaczynski told journalists during a visit to Brussels. ...
Some 14 million Germans fled or were expelled, often extremely brutally, from their homes in eastern Europe from 1944 as the Soviet Red Army advanced and Germany's Nazi Third Reich crumbled. More than half of them lived in what is now Poland.