Polish foreign minister signs diplomatic note demanding WWII reparations from Germany

Poland's demands from Germany, a subject Berlin says a 1953 declaration closed off, total up to $1.3T.

Polish foreign minister signs diplomatic note demanding WWII reparations from Germany

Poland’s foreign minister on Monday signed a diplomatic note demanding war reparations from Germany.

Zbigniew Rau said the note will be sent to the German Foreign Ministry.

“Regulating the issue of the consequences of German aggression and occupation should include payment by Germany of compensation for material and non-material damage caused to the Polish state,” Rau said.

“The diplomatic note expresses the conviction that the parties should take immediate action to ensure a permanent, comprehensive, final, legal and material settlement of the consequences of the German aggression and occupation in the years 1939-1945,” Rau said.

On Sept. 1, the 83rd anniversary of the German invasion of Poland, a parliamentary report was published on Polish losses suffered as a result of German aggression and occupation in 1939-1945.

Its calculations estimate that during the war Poland lost a total of 6 trillion Polish zloty ($1.3 trillion). This includes human losses – it was estimated that each person who died during the war should be compensated for with a sum of 800,000 zloty ($175,000).

Berlin has said the subject was closed by a declaration of 1953, in which Poland renounced reparations from Germany. In 2004 the government of Marek Belka confirmed this position. However, in 2019, Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki – who is still serving – said the 1953 declaration was a "deal between Poland and the GDR (East Germany)," which the current authorities do not recognize.

"[Reparations] will allow Polish-German relations to be based on justice and truth and will lead to the closure of painful chapters of the past and ensure the further development of bilateral relations in the spirit of good neighborliness and friendly cooperation," Rau said in Warsaw on Monday.

Rau also said the note demanded Berlin “ensure proper cooperation in commemorating the Polish victims of WWII and taking effective actions by the German authorities to present to their own society a true picture of the war and its consequences, especially the harm and damage caused to Poland and Poles.”

Poland wants the return of assets and liabilities of Polish state-owned banks looted by the German state in 1939-1945, taking into account the activities of Reich credit unions, ensuring the full rehabilitation of murdered activists from the pre-war Polish minority in the German Reich, and compensating for the losses incurred by Polish diaspora organizations in Germany.