Poland’s top politician said on Thursday that the government would demand the equivalent of about $1.3 trillion from Germany for the Nazis’ World War II invasion and occupation of his country.
Law and Justice Party leader Jarosaw Kaczyski announced huge claims on the release of a long-awaited report on the country’s cost of the years of Nazi German occupation as it is 83 years after the start of World War II.
“Not only did we prepare the report, but we have also decided on the next course of action,” Kaczynski said during the presentation of the report.
“We will turn to Germany to open talks on reparations,” Kaczynski said, adding that it will not be a “long and easy road” but “one day will bring success.”
He stressed that the move would serve a “true Polish-German reconciliation” that would be based on “truth”.
He claimed that the German economy was able to pay the bill.
Germany argues that compensation was paid to Eastern Bloc nations in the post-war years, while Poland lost the east as the borders were redrawn, with some of Germany’s pre-war land compensated. went. Berlin closed the case.
Germany’s foreign ministry said on Thursday that the government’s position remained “unchanged” that “the question of repair is over.”
“Poland waived further repairs long ago, in 1953, and has repeatedly confirmed this exemption,” the ministry said in response to an email to an Associated Press query about the new Polish report.
“It is an important foundation for today’s European order. Germany stands by its responsibility politically and morally for World War II.”
Poland’s right-wing government argues that the country which was the first victim of the war has not been fully compensated by neighboring Germany, which is now one of its major partners within the European Union.
“Germany has never really held accountable for its crimes against Poland,” Kaczynski said, claiming that many Germans who committed war crimes lived in post-war Germany.
Top leaders, including Poland’s chief policy maker Kaczynski and Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, attended the formal release of the report at the Royal Castle in Warsaw, which was built from the ruins of wartime.
The release of the three-volume report was central to the national observance of the anniversary of the war that began on September 1, 1939, with the bombing of Nazi Germany and the invasion of Poland, followed by more than five years of brutal occupation.
The head of the report team, lawmaker Arkadiusz Mularczyk, said it was impossible to place a financial value on the loss of the approximately 5.2 million people convicted of the German occupation.
He listed damages to infrastructure, industry, farming, culture, deportations to Germany for forced labor, and efforts to convert Polish children to Germans.
A team of over 30 economists, historians and other experts have worked on the report since 2017. The issue has created bilateral tension.
The war was “one of the most terrible tragedies in our history”, President Andrzej Duda said during a dawn on the Westerplatte peninsula near Gdansk, one of the first places to be attacked in the Nazi invasion.
“Not only because it took our freedom, not only because it took away our state from us, but also because this war meant millions of victims among the citizens of Poland and irreparable damage to our homeland and our nation,” Duda said.
In Germany, the government official for German-Polish cooperation, Dietmar Nietan, said in a statement that 1 September “is a day of guilt and shame for Germany that reminds us again and again not to forget the crimes committed by Germany.” should”. are “the darkest chapter in our history” and still affect bilateral relations.
The reconciliation offered by the people in Poland “is the basis on which we can look together towards a future in a united Europe,” Nietan said.
Poland’s government, under pressure from the Soviet Union, rejected the 1953 declaration by the country’s then-communist leaders, agreeing to lay no further claims on Germany.
Grzegorz Shtina, an opposition MP, says the report is only “a game in internal politics” and insists that Poland needs to build good relations with Berlin.
About 6 million Polish civilians, including 3 million Jews, died in the war. Some of them were victims of the Soviet Red Army which had invaded from the east.