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Poland renews demand for war reparations from Germany

January 31, 2024

Poland's Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski has renewed the country's demand for financial reparations from Germany for World War II losses. Warshaw seeks a "creative solution" to compensate for wartime suffering.

Poland Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski, speaks during a joint press conference with his German counterpart Annalena Baerbock at the Foreign Ministry in Berlin
As countries seek to mend ties, Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski renews a push for German war reparationsImage: Ebrahim Noroozi/AP Photo/picture alliance

Poland's top diplomat on Tuesday urged Germany to provide "financial compensation" for losses his country suffered at the hands of Nazi troops during World War II.

Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski made the call during his first visit to Berlin since a center-left, pro-European government led by Donald Tusk took office in Poland in mid-December after defeating the national conservative Law and Justice Party (PiS) in elections.

"A strong Europe, whose center will continue to move eastwards in the coming years, needs more than ever a lively German-Polish friendship and deep trust between Warsaw and Berlin," German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said after meeting Sikorski.

The Polish minister also said: "Relations based on a partnership between democratic Germany and Poland should be restored."

Baerbock and Sikorski photographed during a joint meeting in Berlin on January 30, 2024
The call by Sikorski came during his first visit to Berlin, after a new pro-EU government came to power in Poland in DecemberImage: Florian Gaertner/photothek/IMAGO

Sikorski calls for financial compensation

Sikorski's call for reparations echoes a similar push by the PiS government, which previously estimated that Germany should pay €1.3 trillion ($1.4 trillion) as "compensation for the deaths of more than 5.2 million Polish citizens."

Speaking on Welt TV, a German broadcaster, after talks with Baerbock, Sikorski said that "what Germany did to Poland during World War II was terrible and cruel."

He added that it would be helpful if Germany "were to find a creative solution for expressing this suffering, to express regret and do something good for the people who survived this period."

"And this ethical reflection on the past should then result in financial compensation," he said.

Poland to demand WWII reparations from Germany

Germany rejects reparation claims

The issue of WWII compensation had already strained relations between Berlin and the previous Polish government, led by PiS, which had insisted that Germany had a "moral duty" in the matter.

Germany has often rejected such claims, pointing to a 1953 decision by Poland to renounce claims against East Germany.

The German government considers the reparations issue to be closed and refers to the Two Plus Four Treaty on the foreign policy consequences of German reunification in 1990, in which Poland was not involved.

dh/jsi (AFP, dpa)

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