WARSAW – Poland’s culture minister on Wednesday rejected speculation that a rare book given to Pope Francis earlier this week by French President Emmanuel Macron might have been looted from Poland during World War II.
The minister, Piotr Glinski, said the book “is not a Polish war loss,” and that “contrary to the claims of some media ... this work was not stolen from Poland.”
Concerns had risen in Poland after a photo was published of a stamp in the old book from a library in Lviv, a city that is now part of Ukraine but was the Polish city of Lwow until WWII.
The volume is the first French edition of German philosopher Immanuel Kant’s work “On Eternal Peace,” dating from 1796.
Poland saw much of its cultural patrimony destroyed or looted during the country’s wartime occupation by Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union, and about 500,000 artifacts remain missing.
The country has been making efforts to recover as much as possible. The Culture Ministry has a Division for Looted Art that keeps a database of missing objects and scours foreign collections and auctions.
When they locate a looted Polish painting, book or other object, they inform law enforcement officials of the country it's found in.