Poland’s foreign minister issued a diplomatic note to Germany officially on Monday formally demanding $1.3 trillion in war reparations for damages suffered by Poland during the Second World War. That means the issue is now officially on the table regarding Polish-German relations.
The issue of reparations may have already been discussed between Polish Foreign Minister Zbigniew Rau and German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock during her visit to Warsaw on Tuesday, although any such discussion has not yet been confirmed.
The Polish diplomatic note calls for urgent action aiming at a complex and final material settlement for the consequences of Germany’s invasion and occupation of Poland between 1939 and 1945, according to Polish news outlet TVP.
According to Rau, the matter must now be discussed, and a final settlement should include ensuring that the Polish victims of the war are remembered and honored. It also calls on Germany to take measures to raise awareness among its own population about the damage done by Germany to Poland during the war.
Germany has already rejected any claim that it owes reparations to Poland. It has pointed to the 1953 agreement with Poland’s then communist rulers, who relinquished all reparation demands due to pressure from the Soviet Union, which wanted to free East Germany from liabilities. However, Poland contends that the agreement is invalid because Poland never received fair compensation and because it was made under duress.
Poland’s foreign minister and other officials argue that despite the agreement, Germany has never paid appropriate losses for the Second World War.
The relationship between Poland and Germany must be based on truth and justice “so that we can close painful chapters and move forward on the basis of a good neighborhood and cooperation,” said Rau.
He also said the settlement should cover the return of assets that were taken by the Germans, including those in banks.
The diplomatic note issued on Monday is based on a report about the losses suffered by Poland as a result of Germany’s occupation, which estimated these losses at $1.3 trillion.
Although not counted as reparations in the eyes of Poland, the country received a massive amount of territory from what was once Prussian Germany at the end of the Second World War. Millions of ethnic Germans were forcibly expelled from areas such as Silesia that were resettled by Poles.