Germany rejects Poland’s request for $1.4 trillion in WWII reparations, says Warsaw

Poland wants compensation for damage caused by Nazi occupation, taking the matter to the UN

German troops carrying a Nazi flag enter the Polish town of Lodz, October 9, 1939. (AP Photo/Pool/Paramount News)
German troops carrying a Nazi flag enter the Polish town of Lodz, October 9, 1939. (AP Photo/Pool/Paramount News)

WARSAW, Poland — Poland said Tuesday it has been informed by Germany that it does not intend to engage in negotiations on any World War II reparations to Warsaw as Berlin considers the matter closed.

Poland’s Foreign Ministry also said it has turned to the United Nations for support in its efforts to win compensation for some $1.3 trillion of estimated losses suffered under Nazi Germany’s 1939-45 occupation.

All along the drawn-out dispute, Germany has been insisting the matter was closed by decisions taken during communist times when Warsaw relinquished seeking reparations. Poland says that was under Moscow’s pressure and not legally binding. It sent an official demand in October.

Poland’s leaders have been suggesting that there exists a possibility of negotiations.

Poland’s Foreign Ministry said that in an official note of December 28, the government in Berlin said that the “matter of reparations and compensations for wartime losses remains closed and the German government does not intend to open negotiations on the subject.”

The ministry vowed to continue its efforts on a broader front and said that on Tuesday the government addressed UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and other top UN officials seeking “cooperation and support” in the efforts to win wartime reparations.

There was no immediate comment from the UN.

However, some officials in Poland admit that it’s a long-term task.

Szymon Szynkowski vel Sek, minister for European relations, said it’s the government’s “moral obligation” to pursue reparations, however, the time needed for any results “is counted not in months but in years, maybe even in generations.”

Poland’s right-wing government, in its second term, is dealing with a cost-of-living and energy crisis as well as high social policy spending, and faces general elections in the fall.

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