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28 Oct, 2022 14:31

Warsaw to demand WWII reparations from Russia

Poland’s claims have “no expiration date,” the leader of the country’s ruling party previously said
Warsaw to demand WWII reparations from Russia

Warsaw intends to calculate damages caused to the country by the USSR during World War II in a process similar to that which preceded a demand for compensation from Germany, the Polish Foreign Ministry has said.

The research effort was mentioned in a statement on Friday, which provided a breakdown of Polish claims formally sent to Berlin earlier this month.

Senior officials in the country had previously argued that both Russia and Germany should pay compensation to Poland, with President Andrzej Duda making a case for this in an interview last month.

“Germany started World War II and attacked Poland. Of course, Russia joined this war later on and so, in my view, we should demand reparations also from Russia,” he said. “I don’t see any reasons why we shouldn’t demand this.”

The idea is hardly new for Polish conservative politicians. Jaroslaw Kaczynski, the leader of the ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party, told German tabloid Bild in 2020 that “Russia will also have to pay” compensation when discussing Polish claims against Berlin. He said he didn’t expect money from Moscow anytime soon, but stressed that Warsaw’s grudge had “no expiration date.”

Poland insists that it was never properly reimbursed for damage suffered at the hands of Nazi Germany and only agreed to waive reparation claims in the 1950s due to pressure by Moscow.

It also says Moscow is liable because the Soviet leadership sent troops into Poland shortly after the Nazis did in September 1945. Russia argues that the order was given after the Polish government fell, before the Nazi onslaught, and that the decision helped save lives in eastern Poland. The USSR also invested heavily in rebuilding Poland after the war and otherwise helped the country.

The German government reiterated this week that it considered the “question of reparations” for Poland closed, after Warsaw said last month that it wanted €1.3 trillion from Berlin.

The note issued on Friday outlined other things that Warsaw is seeking from Berlin as compensation, such as official status as a national minority for Germany’s ethnic Polish community, complete with certain benefits. 

The Russian stance is likewise uncompromising. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov joked that if Moscow adopted the same approach as Warsaw, it could look into the Polish invasion of Russia during its Time of Troubles in the late 16th and early 17th century as a ground for claims of its own.