Polish MP wants up to €850bn from Germany for war damage
Around 6 million Poles, including 3 million Polish Jews, were killed during the war and Warsaw and other cities were flattened. The capital was destroyed following a 1944 uprising in which about 200,000 civilians were killed.
Germany has paid some compensation to individual Poles who were forced labourers or victims of German pseudo-medical experiments during the wartime occupation.
Germany, one of Poland’s largest trading partners and a fellow European Union and Nato member, has previously said all financial claims linked to the Second World War had been settled.
In 1953 Poland’s communist administration abandoned all claims to wartime reparations under pressure from Moscow, which wanted East Germany, another Soviet satellite, to avoid facing any liabilities. PiS has subsequently said the decision was invalid because Poland was unable to negotiate fair compensation.
PiS has made calls for compensation since taking power in 2015 and uses Poland’s wartime victimhood to bolster its nationalist agenda.
“Poland lost not only millions of its citizens but it was also destroyed in an unusually brutal way,” said Arkadiusz Mularczyk, who heads the Polish parliamentary committee on wartime reparations.
“Many are still alive and feel deeply wronged.”
Poland is due to hold a general election later this year and the European parliamentary election in late May with the nationalist PiS still comfortably ahead in the opinion polls.
According to Russia’s pro-Kremlin broadcaster RT, Mularczyk has previously suggested that Brussels would be the appropriate forum “where the matter can and should be internationalised”.
Similar demands for reparations have been made by Greece. Earlier this month MPs in Athens voted in favour of launching a diplomatic campaign seeking billions in compensation for the wartime occupation.
Mularczyk said the reparations figure could amount to more than 10 times the estimated €100 billion that Poland had received in EU funding since it joined in 2004.
“We are talking about very large, but justified amounts of compensation for war crimes, for destroyed cities, villages and the lost demographic potential of our country,” Mularczyk told broadcaster Polsat News last year.
Polish cavalry in Sochaczew. Poles were trapped between two Second World War frontlines. Picture credit: Wikimedia