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Polish parliament considering pressing for WW2 reparations from Germany

Thursday, 3 August, 2017 - 18:00

The Polish parliament is to consider seeking World War II reparations from Germany, in a move that will further strain tensions between Berlin and Warsaw. “If Jews have gotten compensation – and rightly so – for loss of property, then why shouldn’t we make claims,” said Ryszard Czarnecki, the PiS MP who initiated the motion.

Some six million Polish citizens, including about 3 million Jews, were killed during World War II which began when Germany invaded Poland in September 1939. The request for a parliamentary report into the feasibility of pressing for reparations was made after events commemorating the 73rd anniversary of the Warsaw uprising in which 200,000 Poles lost their lives and Poland’s capital city was destroyed.

Speaking to Radio Maryja Jaroslaw Kaczynski, leader of the ruling Law and Justice party, said, “Polish government is preparing itself for a historical counteroffensive. We are talking here about huge sums and also about the fact that Germany for many years refused to take responsibility for World War II”

In 1953 the Communist government of Poland waived its claims to compensation but the Polish defence minister, Antoni Macierewicz, said on Tuesday that this was no longer valid as it was made by a “Soviet puppet state.”

The new claims will only deepen the growing rift between Warsaw and the European establishment. Last week Brussels began legal action against Poland after it passed controversial judicial reform laws that will allow the justice minister to appoint certain judges, which critics say will undermine the independence of the courts. The conservative PiS government has also run afoul of Brussels and Berlin over its refusal to accept any refugees under the bloc’s quota allocation plan and for its approval of logging permits in the environmentally sensitive Bialowieza forest.

Rejecting Poland’s reparation claim a German government spokesperson said that while Germany assumes responsibility for the Second World War it “has made significant reparations for general war damage, including to Poland, and is still paying significant compensation for Nazi wrongdoing.”



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