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Poland demands €1.3 trillion in reparations from Germany

October 3, 2022

Polish Foreign Minister Zbigniew Rau has signed a note to Berlin demanding WWII reparations, an issue which Germany says was settled in 1990. Warsaw has estimated possible reparations at €1.3 trillion.

Polish Foreign Minister Zbigniew Rau at the MIKTA Foreign Ministers meeting in New York, United States. In front of him is a microphone, a small Polish flag and a sign saying "Poland."
Polish Foreign Minister Zbigniew Rau is demanding reparations from BerlinImage: Cem Ozdel/AA/picture alliance

Polish Foreign Minister Zbigniew Rau signed a diplomatic note on Monday describing Warsaw's demands for reparations from Germany for World War II.

Rau's announcement comes ahead of a visit to Poland by German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock, who is set to take part in German Unity Day celebrations on Monday at the German Embassy in Warsaw.

What did Poland's foreign minister say?

"[The note] expresses the position of the Polish minister of foreign affairs that the parties should take immediate steps to permanently and effectively... settle the issue of the consequences of German aggression and occupation," Rau said at a news conference in Warsaw.

Rau called for a "final" and "durable" settlement between Warsaw and Berlin on the issue of the German occupation of Poland between 1939 and 1945, Polish news agency PAP reported.

"Such a settlement would allow us to base Polish-German relations on justice and truth and close painful chapters of history," Rau was cited by PAP as saying.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Lukasz Jasina said Rau would raise the issue with Baerbock during her visit to Poland on Tuesday.

What are Poland's demands?

Last month, Poland's ruling nationalist Law and Justice (PiS) party estimated that Berlin owed Poland 6.2 trillion zlotys ($1.26 trillion, €1.29 trillion).

PiS party leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski said that the sum was arrived at using a "conservative" method and that Warsaw could demand more.

Berlin maintains that all financial claims related to World War II were settled by the Two-plus-Four Treaty of 1990, which allowed the reunification of Germany.

In 1953, Poland's socialist rulers relinquished all claims to war reparations under pressure from the Soviet Union. Moscow wanted to free East Germany, another Soviet satellite, from any liabilities.

PiS argues that the agreement is invalid because Warsaw was not able to negotiate fair compensation.

Some 6 million Polish citizens, including 3 million of the country's Jews, were killed during World War II, and Poland's capital was razed to the ground by Nazi forces following the 1944 Warsaw Uprising.

sdi/sms (dpa, AP, Reuters)