Poland announces 3.4 billion euro compensation claim against Germany for wartime reparations

Poland has released a long-awaited parliamentary report claiming that Germany owes the country 6.2 million zlotys (3.4 billion euros) in compensation for the damage and loss it has suffered. in the second world war.

The report, published on the anniversary of the Nazi invasion of Poland in 1939 and sparking global conflict, is the latest attempt by the right-wing government in Warsaw to demand reparations from Berlin. , a claim that German politicians have repeatedly rejected.

The report is issued at the time of diplomatic tension between Berlin and Warsaw, most recently Polish complaints that the German government had obstructed its commitment to provide military support to Kyiv following Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

Before the Polish parliamentary elections next year, Warsaw has also repeatedly accused leftist opposition parties of colluding with Germany and working to undermine Poland’s national interests.

The report comes five years after the Polish government set up a parliamentary committee to determine how much Warsaw believes Germany should pay for the wartime occupation of Poland, mass murder and devastation of the capital. Polish dollar and other cities.

Last year, the government set up an Institute for War Loss to promote its claims against Germany as well as Russia. ending World War II, when the Red Army advanced through Poland on its way to Berlin.

Thursday’s report only included claims against Germany. The chairman of the Polish parliamentary committee, Arkadiusz Mularczyk, defended the call for full reparations from Germany.

“To date, Germany has not signed a peace treaty with Poland, or any other agreement providing for reparations for the consequences of the second world war,” Mularczyk said during the presentation of the report at Warsaw’s royal castle, one of countless history. The buildings were rebuilt after being destroyed during the war.

Mularczyk suggested Germany could accept reparations as part of a new Polish-German bilateral agreement. Compensation needs to take into account not only the destruction and other crimes committed by the Nazis, he said, but also the loss of territory and population that Poland suffered as a result of the war.

However, German politicians across all political spheres have repeatedly refused to pay reparations to Warsaw, including last month when Friedrich Merz, leader of Germany’s conservative Christian Democratic party , to visit Poland. On Thursday, the German Foreign Ministry reiterated that it considers the issue of compensation closed.

In recent decades, Germany has directly paid reparations to a number of Polish war victims, especially Holocaust survivors. Berlin has also funded the maintenance of Holocaust sites, including a €60 million grant for Auschwitz Concentration camp.

But the payments left “a perception in Polish society that they were not enough, that the victims received only small compensation,” said Krzysztof Ruchniewicz, director of the Willy Brandt Center for German and European Studies Europe at the University of Wroclaw, said.

Historians and politicians also note that Poland abandoned its claim almost 70 years ago, and would therefore be “impossibly impossible.” [for Poland] Ruchniewicz said.

But claimants argued that there was no legal validity to a decision by a Communist government backed by the Soviet Union at the time.

Some prominent Poles have accused Warsaw of fueling anti-German sentiment with baseless claims. Jerzy Kranz, a former Polish ambassador to Germany and professor of international law at Kozminski University, describes the compensation push as “cynical” and “used only by the current authorities for policy purposes.” domestic and generate anti-German sentiment”.

The war in Ukraine has exacerbated tensions between Warsaw and Berlin, which are already high due to Poland’s claims that Germany is abusing its dominant position in the EU, especially due to perceived erosion. to be rule of law in Poland.

In an interview with Polish newspaper GPC last December, Jarosław Kaczyński, head of Poland’s Law and Justice party, accused Germany of trying to reshape the EU into a “fourth kingdom”. of Germany”.

Speaking at Thursday’s presentation, Kaczyński said Germany could afford to pay reparations to establish “true Polish-German reconciliation”.

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