Poland demands WW2 reparations from Germany

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Warsaw has argued that without compensation normal relations with Berlin will be impossible. The demand comes after the presentation of a report outlining Poland’s material and human losses suffered at the hands of the Nazis during the conflict.

It comes at the 83rd anniversary of the start of the Second World War in Europe following the German invasion of Poland on 1 September 1939.

After Germany ignored British and French demands to withdraw from Poland, they declared war two days later.

At the presentation, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki blasted the “bandits, robbers and rapists” among ordinary Germans during the period and noted the way the German state “plundered” the country.

Mr Morawiecki insisted that Germany could not pretend “nothing” had happened and that reparations were necessary to move forward.

He said: “Ordinary Germans – if one can use this term when speaking about criminals, bandits, robbers and rapists – looted on their own accord, and the German state plundered systematically.

“Without truth, without compensation, there can be no normal relationships between people, much less between states and nations.

“Pretending that nothing has happened, or that little has happened, takes you nowhere.”

A team of 30 economists, historians and other experts have been working on the report since 2017. 

Members of the right wing populist Law and Justice Party, the dominate party in the governing coalition in Warsaw, have made frequent calls for reparations.

“The sum that was presented was adopted using the most limited, conservative method, it would be possible to increase it,” Jaroslaw Kaczynski, leader of Law and Justice (PiS), told a news conference.

However opposition politicians have been more critical of the move.

Donald Tusk leader of the opposition Civic Platform said the move is “not about reparations”. 

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“It’s about an internal political campaign to rebuild support for the ruling party,” he added.

Former foreign minister, Radosław Sikorski blasted the move as “propaganda and fairy tales for the naïve”.

On Thursday Berlin rejected the call for reparations.

“The German government’s position is unchanged, the reparations issue is closed,” according to a Foreign Ministry spokesman.

During a visit to Warsaw last December, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz rejected the call for reparations arguing that the matter had been settled by treaties in the 1990s.

Mr Scholz also argued that Germany had made generous contributions to EU funds which had benefited Poland.

Around six million Poles were killed during the conflict, including three million Polish Jews and Warsaw was raised to the ground following the 1944 uprising.

In 1953 the Polish People’s Republic relinquished all claims to war reparations under pressure from the Soviet Union.

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