Poland formally demands €1.3 trillion from Germany in WWII reparations

Poland formally demands €1.3 trillion from Germany in WWII reparations

Poland has announced that it wants to start negotiations with Germany on reparations during World War II.

Polish foreign minister Zbigniew Rau signed an official note on Monday requesting around €1.3 trillion in damages.

"Parties must take immediate steps towards a permanent, complete and definitive legal and material settlement," he told reporters.

Rau added that Berlin could change its position on war reparations, after a meeting in Warsaw with German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock on Tuesday.

Rau said the two sides should take action “without delay” to address the effects of Nazi Germany’s occupation of Poland from 1939 to 1945.

The proposed deal would include German reparations to victims' families as well as a solution to the issue of looted artworks, archives and bank deposits, he added.

Rau also said that Berlin should make efforts to inform German society about the “true” picture of the war and its impact on Poland to help strengthen bilateral relations and close "painful chapters of the past".

Poland’s right-wing government has long argued that the country has not been fully compensated by neighbouring Germany over World War II.

Last month, the Polish government estimated in a report that damages from the conflict totalled 6.2 trillion zlotys (€1.3 trillion).

Around 6 million Polish citizens, including 3 million Jews, were killed in the war. Some of them were victims of the Soviet Red Army that invaded from the east.

Germany argues that it paid compensation to Eastern Bloc nations in the years after the war and that Poland was handed territories when borders were withdrawn.

But Poland’s government rejects a 1953 declaration that it waived any further claims against Germany. The deal was signed by the country’s then-communist leaders, under pressure from the former Soviet Union (USSR).

In a statement on Monday -- the anniversary of Germany's reunification -- Baerbock said that the country "acknowledges the contribution brave Polish people made".

“We know these days, Europe is stronger when it stands together,” she added.

“The question of reparations is, as you know, concluded from the German government’s point of view,” she added at a news conference on Tuesday.

Germany has previously rejected a similar request for World War II reparations from Greece's government.