Billions owed to Poland in WWII reparations: leader

Poland’s conservative leader has said that over EUR 1 trillion in war reparations could be owed to his country, which suffered massive damage at the hands of Nazi Germany in World War II.

Speaking during a campaign event, Jarosław Kaczyński, head of Poland’s ruling conservative Law and Justice (PiS) party, said on Saturday that outstanding dues to Poland in the wake of World War II ran into tens or even hundreds of billions of euros, “perhaps even more than a trillion.”

He also said that German wartime crimes were being attributed to Poland, while in reality his country was the first in Europe to fight the aggressor during WWII.

Kaczyński told those at his party’s “Patriotic Picnic” event in the town of Pułtusk, 70 kilometres north of Warsaw, that Poland had no financial obligations arising from the wartime years “in terms of the law” and “elementary morality.”

“It is us who are owed payments; it is we who are owed tens of billions, hundreds of billions, of euros or dollars, perhaps even more than a trillion, by some of those to the west of Poland’s borders,” Kaczyński said.

A German historian was quoted as saying in November that war reparations were a “huge debt” that his country had an obligation to pay.

The historian, Karl Heinz Roth, told public broadcaster Deutsche Welle in an interview at the time that Poland’s wartime losses—comprising material damage, human loss as well as forced labour—could be estimated at over USD 1 trillion in today’s money.

The head of a Polish team assessing potential reparations said last year that Germany could owe Poland USD 850 billion for damage it inflicted in World War II.

“We are talking about very large, but justified amounts of compensation for war crimes, for destroyed cities, villages, the lost demographic potential of our country,” Arkadiusz Mularczyk, an MP with Poland’s ruling conservatives, was quoted as saying at the time.

An analysis by Polish parliamentary experts found in 2017 that the government in Warsaw was entitled to demand reparations from Germany.

German officials have said that the issue was definitively settled with Poland in 1953.

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