Germany responds to Poland’s $1.2 trillion reparation demand
Berlin refuses to pay Poland any more World War II reparations and considers the matter “closed” at the governmental level, German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock told her Polish counterpart on Tuesday.
Speaking at a news conference following a meeting with Poland’s Foreign Minister Zbigniew Rau in Warsaw, Baerbock said she understands that “this topic interests many people” in Poland, but stressed that although Germany “feels responsible,” from the point of view of the German government reparations is “a closed issue.”
Her comments come after Rau signed a diplomatic note to Berlin on Monday, officially demanding over $1.2 trillion in reparations for material and other damages and losses Poland claims to have suffered at the hands of Nazi Germany between 1939 and 1945.
The Polish diplomat has insisted that the two countries should take “immediate steps towards a permanent, comprehensive and final legal and material settlement on the issue,” in order to help improve bilateral relations.
After his meeting with Baerbock, Rau reiterated that “Polish society is still traumatized by the German invasion of 1939, which limits and inhibits the possibilities of further development and deepening Polish-German relations.”
He added that Poland still believes that Germany can be convinced to change its position on the issue and that its position will evolve through further dialogue.
It’s estimated that around six 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.
The Seijm, the lower house of the Polish parliament, voted in September to demand the damages be paid for by Berlin, insisting that Germany had the money to do so. Leader of Poland’s ruling Law and Justice party Jaroslaw Kaczynski has even said that the estimated damages were still on the “conservative” side and that the price tag could be much greater.
Berlin, however, argues that Warsaw had waived the right to reparations in two separate treaties signed in 1953 and 1990. Warsaw insists that it had been coerced into signing those documents while it was under pressure from the Soviet Union.