Poland’s Kaczyński is playing the long game over German reparations

By Grzegorz Adamczyk
3 Min Read

Jarosław Kaczyński, the leader of Poland’s ruling conservative Law and Justice (PiS) party, has chosen for Poland to demand €1.3 trillion in war reparations from Germany to create a permanent point of leverage in Polish-German relations and create a winning issue on the domestic political stage, argues political scientist Andrzej Anusz in an interview for portal wp.pl.

In his interview, Anusz argues that Kaczyński wants to use the reparations claim against Germany to leverage, among others, German support for Poland obtaining its EU Recovery Fund allocation, which has been blocked by the European Commission and to put pressure on Germany to do more to help Ukraine. 

Anusz said that this is a good moment for PiS to make this political gambit since, according to him, Poles increasingly view Germans less favorably than before. This is partly because of dissatisfaction with the behavior of Chancellor Olaf Scholz with regard to the war in Ukraine, with both liberal and conservative Polish voters now critical of him. 

Kaczyński believes that Germany is weaker today than a few years ago, says Anusz. The reasons have to do with Germany being compromised with its historically friendly policy towards Russia, its dependence on Russian hydrocarbons, and the greater willingness of the U.S. to engage once more in Europe. 

Anusz recalls that for Kaczyński the question of war reparations from Germany was always an issue of principle. He has never flinched on this in his contacts with German politicians and has stood his ground even when this stance was costly in the 1990s when his party would have benefitted from CDU support. Now is the time when that principled stance may pay off for him politically both at home and abroad.

Anusz is a political scientist who in the 1990s was an MP and an activist of the Center Alliance (PC), a party that was led by Jarosław Kaczyński and was a forerunner of the present ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party.  

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