Poland demands EUR 1.32 trillion from Germany in WWII reparations
Germany should pay Poland PLN 6.2 trillion (EUR 1.32 trillion) in compensation for the destruction caused by the Second World War, the president of the country’s ruling party has said.
Jarosław Kaczyński, leader of the Law and Justice party, made the claim at a ceremony presenting a report detailing Poland's losses resulting from the German invasion.
The report, he said, would help publicise the issue on the international forum.
Prior to the presentation, which coincided with the 83rd anniversary of the outbreak of World War II, participants held a minute's silence for its victims.
Kaczyński said that although the reparations process would be "lengthy and difficult," the issue was to "gain damages for everything that Germany, that the German state, that the German nation, did in Poland in the years 1939-1945."
He added that "dozens of countries around the world... have received damages from Germany while Poland has not," which he attributed to a lack of initiative.
Kaczyński said a general principle applied in international relations whereby if one state does another great harm, it must make good for that harm.
"And there is no reason why Poland has been excluded from the action of that principle," he said.
Speaking at the same ceremony, Poland’s prime minister Mateusz Morawiecki said that the report billing Germany for EUR 1.32 trillion for damages serves true Polish-German reconciliation.
Morawiecki said that the report is "a great step to regain compensation from Germany" and that "no normal relations" between Poland and Germany are possible "without truth and compensation."
According to him, Germany has a responsibility as a whole society to compensate Poland.
"The explanation that the perpetrators of war crimes were only the rulers and executors of orders is common even today," Morawiecki said.
He added that as a result of World War II, in addition to material damage, Poland lost over 5.2 million people, including its elite and therefore could not develop.
To illustrate the losses, the Polish prime minister cited a report by Angus Maddison, a prominent economist and econometrician, who compared Poland and Spain in 1951 and 1991 by measuring gross domestic product in international dollars
"According to this report, per capita income in 1951 war-ravaged Poland, was on average 113 percent compared to that of Spain. Forty years later it was 38 percent," Morawiecki said.
"The incredible damage caused by the loss of great development opportunities is still felt today... the entire economy, the entire Polish state was unable to develop normally", Morawiecki continued. He also noted that nothing could ever compensate for the over five million Polish lives lost in the war.
"No one will ever be able to compensate their next of kin and relatives for their loss. No one will ever be able to bring those lives back," he underlined.
Later on Thursday, a German Foreign Office spokesperson said that the German government's position was unchanged and that "the reparations question was closed".
"Poland renounced further reparations a long time ago, in 1953, and has since repeatedly confirmed this," the spokesperson said, as quoted by Reuters.
In 1953, Poland relinquished all claims to war reparations from Germany under pressure from the Soviet Union, which sought to free its new satellite country, East Germany, from any burden. The current Polish government says the 1953 agreement is invalid as Poland was not a fully sovereign country at that time.