Poland abandons WWII compensation claim against Germany

Aprilia Rine

Poland abandons WWII compensation claim against Germany
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Poland is dropping its demand for more than a trillion dollars in compensation from Germany for World War II losses caused during the Nazi occupation, according to Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski. The issue of reparations is closed, he announced on Thursday.

“My predecessor Minister Anna Fotyga answered a parliamentary question many years ago. Unfortunately, reparations cannot be obtained,” Sikorski said in an interview with TVP Info. “Potsdam decided otherwise,” he added.

Poland made repeated calls for reparations under its previous government, insisting that it was never properly reimbursed for damage suffered at the hands of Nazi Germany.

On Monday, Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk was asked during his joint meeting with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz in Berlin about the issue of reparations. He said the word “reparations” did not even appear in the note sent to German authorities by the previous Polish government, and that it referred to “some kind of compensation.”

“In the formal, legal and international sense, the issue of reparations was closed many years ago,” Tusk said.

A report on the losses suffered by Poland as a result of the German invasion and occupation during World War II was presented in 2022. The foreign minister at the time, Zbigniew Rau, signed a diplomatic note to the German government, demanding PLN 6.2 trillion (around $1.5 trillion) in compensation for damages.

Berlin, however, insisted that the matter had been resolved when Warsaw waived its right to restitution in 1953 under a deal with East Germany, and that the issue was definitively settled under a 1990 treaty on German reunification.

According to Poland’s top diplomat, Germany admits that it has a “moral debt” to Poland and now Warsaw wants to make sure that this sense of guilt finds a material expression.

“Since PiS [Law and Justice party] has not solved anything for eight years, we think that, now, let the Germans figure out how to restore moral order, restore the Poles’ feeling that the Germans are sorry and want to do something about it,” Sikorski said.

Earlier this month, the Polish foreign minister revealed in an interview with Die Welt that the new government in Warsaw was seeking rapprochement with Germany “after years of difficult relations” that had been burdened with “exorbitant demands for reparations.”

According to Sikorski, Warsaw should have demanded WWII reparations from Russia. He alleged that Polish compensation claims should have been settled by the USSR, but the money was never transferred.

In 2022, Polish President Andrzej Duda suggested that Russia, as a successor state to the USSR, also owes reparations to Warsaw.

Poland also says Moscow is accountable because the Soviet leadership sent troops into the country shortly after the Nazis invaded at the start of the war.

Russia argues that the order was given after the Polish government had fallen due to the Nazi onslaught and that the decision helped save lives in eastern Poland. The USSR also invested heavily in rebuilding Poland after the war.

The Soviet Army completed the liberation of Poland from the Nazis alongside Polish troops in 1945.

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