Tag Archives: WWII

Hungarian forced labour victims for justice

Brussels 17.11.2022 “The deportation of the Hungarians of Slovakia for forced labour 1946-1947” hearing took place in the European Parliament on November 16 under the chairmanship of the MEP Jordi Sole from the Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya party, Spain, belonging to the Group of the Greens/European Free Alliance.
“In order to understand the question of deportation of the Hungarian population of Slovakia towards the Czech countries some enlightenment is necessary”, said the keynote speaker Mikulas Krivansky, a Slovakian born Hungarian journalist, President of the Association of Victims of Deportations and their Descendants.

At the end of the Second World War the Czechoslovak leaders were deeply convinced that reconstituted Czechoslovakia had to become ethnically homogeneous.
The Conference of Potsdam accepted the evacuation of Germans but opposed the expatriation of Hungarians. As a consequence the Czechoslovak government asked the Peace Conference to compel Hungary to accept a Treaty on the exchange of populations, such a Treaty being signed on Febrary 27th 1946.
The Czechoslovak authorities decided to proceed to an unilateral and violent solution of this issue.
Instrumentalising the Law 88/1945 on general work liability (obligation) the displacement of the Hungarians towards the Czech country proceeded.

Comparing the Law itself and its application, in fact it has been used as a pretext to the displacement of the Hungarian population.

By virtue of such a law, in the case of an urgent and public interest work, it was foreseen, for a year at most, to impose the obligatory work on men aged from 16 to 55 and women from 18 to 45.

Those not to be constrained to work were gravid women and women with one child under 15, nor women having at least one dependent person. Married workers could only be called if the number of workers was not sufficient.

In spite of this, as early as November 19th 1946, forced transfers were executed, army and police troops encircled the Hungarian districts along the Danube.
The deportations produced many tragic victims and caused a lot of suffering; newborn babies at the breast and elderly people died, others suffered serious illnesses.
The displaced families were posted as rural servants or daily-workers for Czech big farmers and landowners.
Such a proceeding was contrary to the Czechoslovak laws, because the authorities had repeatedly violated the legislation in force.

According to the sources of the ministry of Social Affairs, in January 1948, 11 746 “economic units”, a term used to designate families, were deported, namely 44 129 persons.

The majority of the victims managed to go back to Slovakia after the communists took power in 1948.
Only after the change in 1989, did the victims express their claims, demanding justice to be served.
This is the reason why the Association of Victims of Deportations and their Descendants was founded. The Association represents 3 000 registered victims.

During the two mandates of Mr. Dzurinda’s Government ( 1998-2002 and 2002-2006 ) the Slovak Parliament voted for laws aiming to compensate certain victims of the past. These laws covered the 1939 to 1945 fascist period and the 1948 to 1990 communist period but excluded from any compensation the victims of the 1945 to 1948 period considered as a democratic one.
The exclusion of the victims of forced labour from all compensation is based on ethnicity and constitutes, in our opinion, a serious discrimination between the different groups of Slovak citizens.

Subsequently 1 500 members of our association have written personally a letter to the Prime Minister Mr. Dzurinda and to the European Commissioner Mr. Romano Prodi. The European Deputies mobilized in favour of the victims of forced labour. The question was put forward within various Parliamentary Committees: Nelly Maes, Miquel Mayol i Raynal, Bernat Joan i Marí travelled many times to Slovakia to attend the General Assembly of our Association.
Written questions were raised at the Commission and at the Commissioner for Enlargement Mr. Verheugen.
The MEP Erik Meijer confronted the latter four pertinent questions, but got only vague answers based on evasive generalities.

img_8466

The Czech Government under Mr. Jiří Paroubek finally decided to make a humanitarian gesture towards the victims of the past. Thanks to the intervention of many European Deputies from a variety of political adherences, the Czech citizens of Hungarian origin, victims of forced labour, are now included in the Declaration of the Czech Government.
In the light of the preceding facts one is entitled to raise a question: has there then been indifference or complicity on behalf of the decision-making politicians?
To sum up the the main violations of legality incurred in by the state authorities are the following:

– Use of coercion and armed force
– Non-respect of the prescriptions of the law when being enforced
– Non-respect of salary related provisions in force
– Absence of proper housing and food as indicated by law
– Exploitation of child labour
– Denial to include in pension schemes the period of work
– Absence of all benefits issuing from social security coverage.

“We believe that all those who have been through these works, contributed to the reconstruction of the Republic caused by World War II, they deserve recognition for their dignifying effort. Many are those, among which are the MEPs, who feel there is a compelling need for legislation aimed at repairing prejudice caused to the Slovak citizens – victims of forced labour” Krivansky continued.

The recent role of the European Parliament and elected representatives in matters of forced labour is reflected in the decisions taken against companies resorting to these practices.
The EU ban of products from forced labour is an encouraging gesture for our struggle for justice.

Presentetion by Mr. Krivansky, President of the Association of Victims of Deportations and their Descendants – Slovakia, during the Public Hearing held by MEP Jordi SOLÉ in Brussel on Nov.16th 2022

img_8469

Poland: $1.3 trillion WWII reparations request

Brussels 04.10.2022 Polish Foreign Minister Zbigniew Rau has signed a diplomatic note to Germany concerning reparations for World War II, framing the demand for compensation before a visit by Berlin’s top diplomat.

The controversial gesture occurred after Poland’s ruling nationalists last month estimated Germany owed the country 6.2 trillion zlotys ($1.26 trillion).
“[The note] expresses the position of the Polish minister of foreign affairs that the parties should take immediate steps to permanently and effectively … settle the issue of the consequences of aggression and German occupation,” Rau told a news conference.

Lukasz Jasina, Poland’s Foreign ministry spokesman, said to reporters that Rau would raise the issue with his German counterpart Annalena Baerbock during her visit to Warsaw on Tuesday, October 4.

About six million Poles, including three million Polish Jews, were killed during the war and Warsaw was razed to the ground following a 1944 uprising in which about 200,000 civilians died.

In 1953, Poland’s then-communist rulers relinquished all claims to war reparations under pressure from the Soviet Union, which wanted to free East Germany, also a Soviet satellite, from any liabilities.

Poland’s ruling nationalists Law and Justice (PiS) say that agreement is invalid because Poland was unable to negotiate fair compensation.

It has revived calls for compensation since it took power in 2015 and has made the promotion of Poland’s wartime victimhood a central plank of its appeal to nationalism.

The belligerent stance towards Germany, often used by PiS to mobilise its electorate, has strained relations with Berlin.

Malta ambassador resigns after verbal assault

Malta’s Ambassador to Finland has resigned after comparing German Chancellor Angela Merkel to Adolf Hitler in a public message in the context of Europe remembering the end of World War II.

Malta government ensured that the official apology will be send to Berlin.
The Maltese high diplomat to Finland resigned after comparing German Chancellor Angela Merkel to Adolf Hitler.

Michael Zammit Tabona’s anti-Merkel Facebook entry, posted on May 8, which was removed later.

The Foreign affairs minister Evarist Bartolo informed he had accepted the resignation of the Maltese businessman appointed as Malta’s ambassador to Helsinki in 2014.

In his message on Friday, the 75th anniversary of the end of World War Two in Europe, Zammit Tabona had posted: “75 years ago we stopped Hitler. Who will stop Angela Merkel? She has fulfilled Hitler’s dream! To control Europe.”
Maltese media reported May 10 that the offending post had since been deleted, and that Zammit Tabona could not be contacted for comment.

The Times of Malta newspaper said Zammit Tabona’s posting had been as non-residential and quoted Bartolo as saying he had instructed the ambassador to remove the comment “as soon as I was alerted to it.
The newspaper also quoted Maltese opposition leader Adrian Delia as saying that Zammit Tabona’s Facebook post was “unbecoming of an ambassador.”

Delia told the newspaper Angela Merkel had consistently backed Malta on various issues, describing her as a source of stability in Europe — seven decades after the defeat of Nazi Germany.

Malta’s Chamber of Commerce, in a statement also carried by the newspaper, said Zammit Tabona’s remark had harmed the country’s reputation. It welcomed his resignation.
All persons holding public office and diplomats no less, should take extra care when expressing themselves, as the country’s reputation is no one’s to put in compromising situations,” the chamber reportedly said.

Relations between the two EU nations, Malta and Germany, are becoming increasingly complex over Mediterranean migrant flows and Eurozone debt.

Japan aims at solution of Kuril Islands issue

The Japanese government is determined to achieve a solution to the territorial issue and sign a peace treaty with Russia, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said in his programme speech, addressing the Parliament on January 20.

Step-by-step, the agreements, which we reached with Russian President [Vladimir] Putin are being implemented,” Abe said. “Former residents of the [Southern Kuril] Islands go on a pilgrimage tour by plane to their relatives’ graves and joint economic activity is being cultivated on the four islands.

We will speed up talks based on the 1956 Joint Declaration, solve the territorial problem and sign a peace treaty,” Abe continued. “We are moving towards this without any hesitation. I’m fully determined to achieve this goal together with President [Vladimir Putin],” Prime Minister underlined.

Russia and Japan have been in talks to sign a peace treaty since the mid-20th century. The main stumbling block to achieving this is the ownership issue over the Southern Kuril Islands, called the Northern Territories in Japan.

After the end of World War II, the Kuril Islands were incorporated into the Soviet Union. However, the ownership of Iturup, Kunashir, Shikotan Islands and the Habomai Islands has been challenged by Japan. The Russian Foreign Ministry has repeatedly said that Russia’s sovereignty over these islands, which is committed to paper in international documents, cannot be called in question.

Lavrov on sovereignty over S.Kuril

Japan should recognize Russia’s sovereignty over the Southern Kuril Islands to allow both countries conclude a peace treaty, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said to reporters on November 23.

Russian diplomat issued this comment as a reaction on a statement by Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga, which clarifies that the Japanese government would continue negotiations with Russia on a peace treaty proceeding from its baseline position: first to settle the territorial problem and then to conclude a peace treaty.

With all the respect for the Chief Cabinet Secretary, we are nonetheless guided by the agreements that are reached at the highest level between the Russian president and the Japanese prime minister. They have agreed to move forward in discussing the problems that remain, proceeding from the 1956 declaration, which clearly states that first Russia’s territorial integrity and sovereignty over all our lands, including those territories, are recognized, thus recognizing the results of World War II, and then everything else will possibly be discussed,” Lavrov underlined.

Bullet sent in a letter to S.Korea Embassy

A letter containing what appeared to be a bullet was sent to the South Korean Embassy in Japan, police said September 3. The incident took place during the period of sharply deteriorating ties between the two countries over wartime history and trade policy.

Police said they are analyzing the object to confirm whether it is a bullet, and to possibly help identify the sender.

The letter was delivered to the embassy in Tokyo (pictured) on August 27 and addressed to former Ambassador Lee Su Hoon, sources close to the matter said. It was sent an anonymously, and contained a threat, indicating that the sender had a rifle and is targeting a South Korean, according to the sources. The police investigation was launched.

Relations between two countries deteriorated swiftly after the South Korean Supreme Court last autumn ordered two Japanese companies to pay damages to South Koreans who it indicated were forced to work in their factories during Japanese colonial rule.

Japan reiterates that the issue of compensation stemming from its colonial rule was settled “finally and completely” in a 1965 bilateral agreement under which Japan provided South Korea with $300 million in grants and $200 million in loans.

Di Maio for Europarliament Single Seat

Deputy Prime minister of Italy Luigi di Maio criticises the EU for squandering public money, while using two seats for the European Parliament in Brussels for groups and committees meetings, and in Strasbourg exclusively for the Plenary one week a month, while three weeks the building stays empty.

Till present around 1,5 million citizens singed a petition for Single seat, and the campaigners say that two thirds of MEPs support their demand. The Single Seat campaign is chaired by Anna Maria Corazza Bildt MEP (Moderaterna, Sweden), and 5 Vice-Chairs from the Parliament’s main political groups.

This Parliament has been voting across political and national boundaries, constantly regularly for a single seat of the European Parliament. We want to be able to decide when and where to meet. Chancellor Angela Merkel and Sebastian Kurz showed leadership last year and took a clear public position in favour of one location for the European Parliament” Anna Maria Corazza Bildt said, while debating in Strasbourg with Spanish Prime minister Pedro Sanchez on January 16 in the framework of the “Future of Europe” cycle.

single seatHowever successive French governments have declined the claim of the campaigners to give up Strasbourg, insisting the city is a symbol of the reunification of Europe after the World War II, and its status as the seat of the European Parliament is enshrined in the EU treaty. “It was not France that unilaterally decided to place the seat in Strasbourg. It is a symbol of the French-German reconciliation on which Europe is built,” insists MEP Anne Sander (EPP, France).

 

Japanese support graduate return of Kuril Islands

The majority of Japanese believe that the country’s government in negotiations with Russia should focus on the return of the two southern islands of the Kuril archipelago in the first place, and decide the fate of the two remaining ones in the course of further consultations. The public opinion was published on December 16, quoting data from a survey conducted by the Japanese agency Kyodo. (Image: Kuril from space).

Thus, according to the survey, 53.2% of respondents agreed that the Japanese government in negotiations with the Russian Federation should focus on “the return of two islands, and continue negotiations on the remaining two islands.” At the same time, 28.6% of respondents stressed that it is necessary to seek the return of all four islands at once.

The 1956 declaration said that the peace treaty between Russia and Japan could be concluded after the delivery of Khabomai and Shikotan islands to Japan. Japan had refused to sign the declaration because of the wish to receive more than just two islands.

In 2017, the Russian government established an advanced economic development zone on Shikotan Island and assigned Shikotan to the territory of special economic cooperation between Russia and Japan.

Russia celebrates Victory Day

A total of 72 military helicopters and planes will fly over the Red Square and Kremlin in Moscow on May 9 as part of the WWII Victory Day Parade.

The country’s famous aerobatic team the Russian Knights scheduled to demonstrate their aerobatic skills flying the brand-new Su-30SM jets, Russian Aerospace Forces Commander Col. Gen. Viktor Bondarev said to Rossia TV channel.

“The most advanced types of aircraft operated by the Aerospace Forces will be demonstrated…. For the first time our Russian Knights will fly over on the Su-30SM jets. The group has already retrained to this type and performed in this composition,” Bondarev said. On the ground, Russian S-400 air defense systems, surface-to-air missile launchers Pantsir-S1 and recently developed Pantsir-SA will take part in the parade, the military official added. PHOTO: illustration