European leaders commemorate in Poland the 80th anniversary of the outbreak of World War II

Jewish ghetto in Warsaw during World War II – REUTERS / HANDOUT.

MADRID, 1 Sep. –

The leaders of several countries have begun on Sunday the commemoration ceremonies of the 80th anniversary of the outbreak of World War II from the Polish city of Wielun, the first town bombed by the German Luftwaffe on September 1, 1939, at the beginning of a conflict that left around 80 million dead and whose consequences endure to this day.

European leaders commemorate in Poland the 80th anniversary of the outbreak of World War II
European leaders commemorate in Poland the 80th anniversary of the outbreak of World War II

The ceremony began with speeches by Polish President Andrzej Duda and his German counterpart, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, after keeping a minute of silence in memory of the 2,000 victims of the bombing.

Minutes later, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki and Deputy Director of the European Commission, Frans Timmermans, held celebrations on the Westerplatte Peninsula, on the Baltic coast, the site of the first battle of the war, when troops Poles opposed resistance.

In Wielun, Duda has thanked Steinmeier for his presence on the painful anniversary, who in turn has asked for the forgiveness of the Poles, “for the racist German barbarism and his desire to annihilate.”

“We cannot forget the Second World War,” said the Polish president, “even when his witnesses are no longer with us, to make sure that what happened in Wielun and later in many other places in Poland and abroad, never repeat yourself. ”

“It is easier to go where the soldiers fought than to the place where the Army criminally bombarded civilians who were asleep,” Duda criticized. The presence of the German president in Wielun is a form of “moral compensation,” he concluded.

The main event will take place in Warsaw and will feature a long list of participants, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe, Belgian Prime Minister and President-elect of the European Council, Charles Michel, as well as leaders of Croatia, the Czech Republic, Lithuania, Slovakia, Ukraine and Hungary.

The president of the United States, Donald Trump, had to attend, but canceled his planned trip saying he needed to be aware of the hurricane that was approaching the southeastern United States. Vice President Mike Pence will participate in the event instead of Trump.

In the ceremony, Duda expressed a much more conciliatory tone than the one exhibited in the interview published this Saturday before the German newspaper 'Bild', in which he returned to claim to Germany the payment of compensation for the damages suffered.

Compensations are, for Doubt, are “a matter of responsibility and moral.” “The war we are talking about today caused huge damage in Poland,” Duda said.

The president has announced that the Polish Parliament “will present an invoice” and has assured that former President Lech Kaczynski had already ordered “expert reports for years that clearly show that these damages were never repaired.”

Duda said that in the end experts will have to decide on the issue of compensation. “I am sure we will find a solution.”

In Poland alone, it is estimated that up to six million people lost their lives. The capital, Warsaw, and many other Polish cities were reduced to rubble and ash.

Germany considers, however, that the payment of possible compensation is a closed issue. The German Government refers to the “Two plus Four” treaty that in 1990 opened the way for the reunification of the country.

In the treaty between the Federal Republic, the German Democratic Republic and the four former occupying powers, namely the United States, the Soviet Union, France and the United Kingdom, the payment of reparations is not explicitly mentioned.

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