Sep 1, 2022 - World

Poland plans to seek $1.3 trillion in reparations from Germany for WWII

Jaroslaw Kaczynski, leader of the Law and Justice party, in 2019. Photo: Mateusz Wlodarczyk/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Poland's leaders said Thursday the country will demand reparations from Germany to the tune of $1.3 trillion, which they argue is equivalent to the damages caused by the invasion and occupation of Poland during World War II.

What they're saying: "Germany invaded Poland and then caused us serious losses,” Jaroslaw Kaczynski, leader of the Law and Justice party, said at a press conference for the report's release, Bloomberg reported.

  • "We not only prepared the report but we have also taken the decision as to the further steps," Kaczynski added, per AP. "We will turn to Germany to open negotiations on the reparations."
  • "It is not only a settlement with the past — it is primarily a bill for the future taken away from the Polish nation," Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki tweeted.

State of play: The Law and Justice party has floated calls for reparations on a number of occasions since coming into power and has often aimed barbed rhetoric at Germany, with increasing frequency as the country nears its 2023 election, according to Reuters.

  • Donald Tusk, former Polish prime minister and ex-president of the European Council, said Thursday that the fresh demands were "not about reparations," Reuters reported.
  • "It's about an internal political campaign to rebuild support for the ruling party," Tusk said.
  • Germany is one of Poland's primary trading partners in the E.U. and the $1.3 trillion sum is more than double Poland's annual economic output, per Bloomberg.

The big picture: More than 6 million Polish citizens — half of them Jews — were killed during WWII and Warsaw itself was destroyed.

  • Poland's current leaders reject a 1953 declaration in which the country's then-communist leaders agreed not to seek further payments from Germany on the basis that the agreement was struck under pressure from the Soviet Union.
  • Germany, however, considers the matter of reparations settled and has not yet responded to the new demands, per Reuters.
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