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15 Feb, 2024 13:43

Poland should have demanded WWII reparations from Russia – FM

The new government in Warsaw has scaled back calls for compensation from Germany
Poland should have demanded WWII reparations from Russia – FM

Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski has questioned why the previous government in Warsaw did not formally demand World War II reparations from Russia. Polish compensation claims should have been settled by the USSR, but the money was never transferred, he alleged. 

In an interview with the TNP broadcaster on Thursday, Sikorsky claimed that following WWII, it was agreed that Poland would receive 15% of reimbursements that were entitled to the USSR, although the Soviets “took it away.”

“I would like to find out why the Law and Justice government did not turn to Russia as the legal successor to the Soviet Union for these reparations,” he stated. 

Poland made increasing calls for reparations under Jaroslaw Kaczynski’s conservative Law and Justice (PiS) party, which ruled the country between 2015 and 2023. Warsaw insists that it was never properly reimbursed for damage suffered at the hands of Nazi Germany. The Soviet Army, together with local troops, liberated Poland from the Nazis in 1945. 

While reiterating that the current Polish government still expects some form of compensation from Germany, Sikorsky admitted on Thursday that the issue of reparations from Berlin had been settled many years ago.

“I would like to remind you that Minister [Anna] Fotyga, in response to a parliamentary question, admitted that Poland had already been granted reparations in Potsdam, in the treaty at the end of World War II,” Sikorski said. 

In 2022, the Polish government estimated that Berlin should pay €1.3 trillion ($1.4 trillion) for damage inflicted by the Third Reich.

Berlin responded that its WWII-related obligations were comprehensively settled under the 1990 treaty that paved the way for German reunification during the final years of the Cold War. It has also argued that Warsaw waived the right to reparations under a 1953 deal with East Germany.

Commenting in September 2022, Polish President Andrzej Duda said Warsaw should likewise demand reparations from Russia as a successor state to the USSR, adding that he saw “no reason why we shouldn’t pursue it.” 

Soon afterwards, Poland’s Institute of War Losses stated soon that work on the Russian reparations campaign was ongoing, and pledged to present a full report within three years.  

Commenting on Duda’s suggestion, Kremlin press secretary Dmitry Peskov described it as more evidence of Warsaw’s “frenzied Russophobia.”

Peskov made clear that Russia was not taking the Polish demands seriously. He joked that Russia has grievances with Poland dating back to the 16th century, referring to the ‘Time of Troubles’, when Russia was briefly occupied by the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth.