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Polish FM signs diplomatic note to Germany in push for WWII reparations

03.10.2022 13:15
Poland’s foreign minister on Monday signed a formal diplomatic note to demand reparations for World War II from Germany, officials told reporters.
Polands Foreign Minister Zbigniew Rau signs a formal note to the German government demanding reparations for World War II, at a news conference in Warsaw, on Monday, October 3, 2022.
Poland's Foreign Minister Zbigniew Rau signs a formal note to the German government demanding reparations for World War II, at a news conference in Warsaw, on Monday, October 3, 2022.PAP/Radek Pietruszka

Zbigniew Rau signed the document at a televised news conference in Warsaw ahead of a visit by his German counterpart, the wprost.pl website reported.

The formal note, addressed to the German government, was expected to be sent to Berlin later in the day, according to officials.

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock is scheduled to visit Poland on Tuesday, wprost.pl reported.

Poland’s Rau said the document “reflects the Polish foreign minister’s conviction that parties should take steps without delay to regulate legally and materially, in a lasting, comprehensive and final manner, the consequences of German aggression and occupation in the years between 1939 and 1945.”

Rau specified that the issues to be regulated include:

  • the payment by Germany of compensation for the material and non-material damage inflicted on the Polish state by this aggression and occupation;
  • recompensing the victims of this aggression and occupation, and their family members, for the damage and harm done to them;
  • a systemic settlement of the issue of looted Polish cultural assets and archives;
  • the return of the assets and liabilities of Polish state banks, which were stolen by the German state between 1939 and 1945;
  • ensuring proper cooperation on commemorating the Polish victims of World War II and the adoption by the German authorities of effective measures to present the true picture of the war and its effects to the German public, especially the damage inflicted on Poland and Polish people.          

“Such a settlement will enable us to base Polish-German relations on justice and truth,” Rau said.

He added that the settlement would “lead to the closure of painful chapters from the past and ensure further growth of bilateral relations in the spirit of good neighbourliness and friendly cooperation.” 

Rau thanked ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party MP Arkadiusz Mularczyk and his team of experts who recently published a report on the destruction wrought on Poland by Nazi Germany during World War II, public broadcaster Polish Radio’s IAR news agency reported. 

“Generations of Poles had waited for such a study,” Rau stated.

Poland estimates its WWII losses caused by Germany at EUR 1.3 trillion

The report, published on September 1, estimated Poland’s World War II losses caused by German aggression at EUR 1.3 trillion. 

Poland's conservative leader Jarosław Kaczyński said at the time that "a decision has been made to raise the issue of World War II reparations with Berlin."

Kaczyński added: “It’s about securing compensation, maybe through a long and arduous process, for everything that Germany, the German state, the German nation, did to Poland between 1939 and 1945.” 

Polish MPs call on Germany to take responsibility for WWII

Two weeks later, the lower house of Poland's parliament, the Sejm, adopted a resolution calling on the German government “to explicitly assume political, historical, legal and financial responsibility for all the consequences caused in the Republic of Poland and to the citizens of the Republic of Poland as a result of the German Third Reich starting World War II.”

The resolution, drafted by the ruling Law and Justice party, was approved in a 418-4 vote, with 15 abstentions.

The document added: “The German aggression, the occupation of Poland by Germany and the systemic genocide caused enormous harm, suffering, as well as material and non-material losses. The cruelty inflicted on people by the German occupation took various forms: subjugation, forced labour, child abduction, the maiming, rape and killing of children, women and men - citizens of the Republic of Poland. In addition, evidence of genocide and war crimes was destroyed.”

The resolution went on to say: “The Sejm of the Republic of Poland states that the appropriately represented Polish State has never renounced its claims directed at the German State.” 

“The assertion that these claims have been lawfully withdrawn or have become invalid through lapse of time is without any foundation whatsoever, either moral or legal,” the document added.

"The harm done to millions of Polish people will scream until it has been remedied in a just manner,” MPs stated.

The resolution also stressed that Poland had "never received compensation for the human and material losses caused by the German state," or redress for "the enormous harm done to Polish citizens," the PAP news agency reported.

Push for reparations from Russia

Polish lawmakers also said: “The Sejm of the Republic of Poland states that Poland has not yet received appropriate financial compensation and atonement for the losses suffered by the Polish State during World War II as a result of aggression by the Soviet Union.”

They added: “[T]hese losses require the preparation and presentation of a necessary estimate that will form the basis for appropriate action to be taken in relation to the Russian Federation.” 

‘Poland will receive WWII reparations from Germany’: PM

Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said last month: “I am convinced that we will receive reparations from Germany, although it won’t happen quickly. Even the most difficult journey begins with the first step.” 

Morawiecki told reporters at the time that Poland would “submit a diplomatic note to the German government, which will happen soon.”


Source: wprost.pl, PAP, tvp.info