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Warsaw Eyes Demand for German Reparations

‘We are talking here about huge sums,’ ruling party boss warns.

10 August 2017

Leading Polish government figures have indicated their support for reopening the extremely touchy subject of German war reparations.

 

With ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party members using language like “massacre” and “moral duty” in recent days, it looks as though Warsaw is ready for a confrontation with the EU’s largest member – and its biggest trading partner.

 

 

The spark was lit last week when a PiS lawmaker asked for a parliamentary analysis of a potential claim on Germany for damages inflicted during World War II, Bloomberg reports.

 

The idea of reparations won backing from high-ranking party figures such as party leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski, Defense Minister Antoni Macierewicz, and Deputy Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki.

 

The fact that the EU is considering sanctioning Warsaw for repeatedly ignoring its warnings to stop meddling with the judiciary may be connected with the timing of the reparations talk, Warsaw University political scientist Anna Materska-Sosnowska told Bloomberg.

 

“This is catering to domestic political demand and is meant to cover other issues and show that Poland’s isn’t scared of anyone, even Germany,” she said. “If this was about real negotiations, the political language would be different. The anti-German card has been in use quite often.”

 

The government must also deal with some in the opposition who oppose reopening the question of war damages, Foreign Minister Witold Waszczykowski says.

 

"Today we have powerful … opposition against raising this issue at all in talks with Germany. … It will be very difficult to undertake talks with the Germans with this type of opposition in our own country,” Waszczykowski told state broadcaster TVP, Radio Poland reports today.

 

 

  • Several Polish governments since the end of communism have declared the question of German reparations closed, based on a declaration by the communist regime in 1953 and treaties with Germany in 1970 and 1990, according to Bloomberg.

 

  • The government and many historians estimate that 6 million Polish civilians died in German-controlled areas during World War II. About half of the dead were Jews. Estimates of deaths in Soviet-controlled areas range up to around 150,000.

 

  • Macierewicz said recently the 1953 government’s renunciation of the right to seek reparations was invalid because Poland was then a “Soviet puppet state,” Deutsche Welle reports.

 

  • Kaczynski has been demanding German reparations for years. Referring to the latest bid to reopen the issue, he said the "Polish government is preparing itself for a historical counteroffensive."

 

  • "We are talking here about huge sums," Kaczynski continued, "and also about the fact that Germany for many years refused to take responsibility for World War II," DW writes.

Compiled by Ky Krauthamer

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