Warsaw has estimated its World losses from the conflict and wants Berlin to pay up
Polish leaders have provided a new assessment of the damage the country sustained at the hands of Germany during World War II, evaluating it at 6.2 trillion zlotys ($1.32 trillion).
During a news conference on Thursday, which marked 83 years since the start of World War II, the leader of the country’s ruling nationalist Law and Justice party (PiS), Jaroslaw Kaczynski, announced the release of a report on the costs Poland suffered during the years of Nazi occupation.
“We not only prepared the report but we have also taken the decision as to the further steps,” Kaczynski said during the report’s presentation, announcing that Warsaw intends to officially request reparations from Germany, which he described as a “long and not… easy path.”
He added that Warsaw believes Germany is capable of paying the bill, and insisted the move would serve “true Polish-German reconciliation,” which would be based on “truth.” Kaczynski also suggested that the current estimate of damages may not be final.
“The sum that was presented was adopted using the most limited, conservative method, it would be possible to increase it,” the politician said.
Polish lawmakers previously estimated the damages sustained during WWII at $850 billion in 2019, and while the PiS has repeatedly called for compensation from Germany since it took power in 2015, Poland had never officially demanded reparations before.
Germany’s Foreign Ministry responded to Kaczynski’s request by stating Berlin’s position is unwavering and that it considers the matter of reparations long closed.
Berlin argues that Poland had forfeited claims to reparations while it was still part of the Soviet Bloc, and that Berlin already paid out compensation to members of the bloc in the years following the war – and that lost Polish territories were compensated with some of Germany’s pre-war lands.
Nevertheless, Kaczynski maintains that “Germany has never really accounted for its crimes against Poland,” pointing to the fact that Germans accused of war crimes lived in impunity in Germany after the war.
It’s estimated that around 6 million Poles, including three million Polish Jews, were killed by Nazi Germany during World War II, while much of the nation’s industry, infrastructure, and culture suffered huge losses during the six-year conflict.