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Polish president: Berlin should pay WWII reparations

November 2, 2018

A feud over World War II reparations will come to the fore as Polish leaders hold talks with German Chancellor Merkel's government. Germany has said the issue is settled, but a Polish parliamentary inquiry disagreed.

People in front of destroyed buildings in German-occupied Warsaw in 1939
Image: picture-alliance/akg-images

For over a year, members of Poland's governing national-conservative Law and Justice Party (PiS) have been raising their voices, calling once again for Germany to pay World War II reparations to Poland. The issue is sure to come up during German Chancellor Angela Merkel's visit to Warsaw on Friday.

Most recently, Polish President Andrzej Duda has stated it in an interview with German newspaper Bild am Sonntag.

Duda told the newspaper that a parliamentary inquiry had investigated Poland's war damages and its preliminary results showed that the country's wartime losses have not been properly compensated.

"It is a question of truth and responsibility," he said.

Thorn in German-Polish relationship

Duda's comments directly contradict Germany, which has repeatedly said that the status of reparations was settled in the early 1950s.

Read more: Poland, Greece team up on Nazi-era war reparations demands

The call could become a sticking point when government representatives from Germany and Poland meet for consultations in Warsaw next week.

Duda's call echoed the remarks of the previous Polish president, Jaroslaw Kaczynski, who in June said that his country needed to be compensated for the murder of millions of people and the destruction of material goods that took place during Germany's invasion and occupation of Poland during the war.

WWII commemoration plan

Duda's interview follows the Polish president's meeting with German President Frank Walter Steinmeier in Berlin last week. Both discussed a joint commemoration to mark the 80th anniversary of the beginning of World War II in September.

Read more: Opinion: Is Poland's demand for war reparations a threat to German-Polish relations?

During his visit, Duda harshly criticized the far-right Alternative for Germany party and its attacks against Germany's postwar culture of remembrance.

"The fact that, until now, no German party has questioned Germany's guilt has made the great reconciliation process between Poland and Germany possible," he said. "We owe our good relationship to the fact that we think about the past and that it represents a warning for us."

jcg/sms (dpa, KNA, Reuters)

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