Poland says Germany refused talks on World War Two reparations

FILE PHOTO: German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas and his Polish counterpart Jacek Czaputowicz pay respect at the Wall of Rememberence as they commemorate the 75th anniversary of Warsaw Uprising at Warsaw Rising Museum in Warsaw

WARSAW (Reuters) -Germany has rebuffed the latest push by Poland's nationalist government for vast reparations over World War Two, saying in response to a diplomatic note that the issue was closed, the foreign ministry in Warsaw said on Tuesday.

A spokesperson for the German foreign ministry said it had responded to a letter sent by Poland on the subject in October and did not comment on the contents of diplomatic correspondence.

Poland estimates its World War Two losses caused by Germany at 6.2 trillion zlotys ($1.4 trillion) and has demanded reparations, but Berlin has repeatedly said all financial claims related to the war have been settled.

"This answer, to sum it up, shows an absolutely disrespectful attitude towards Poland and Poles," Arkadiusz Mularczyk, Poland's deputy foreign minister, said in an interview with the Polish Press Agency.

"Germany does not pursue a friendly policy towards Poland, they want to build their sphere of influence here and treat Poland as a vassal state."

When asked about further dialogue with Germany regarding compensation, Mularczyk said it would continue "through international organisations".

Some six million Poles, including three million Polish Jews, were killed during the war and Warsaw was razed to the ground following a 1944 uprising in which about 200,000 civilians died.

In 1953, Poland's then-communist rulers relinquished all claims to war reparations under pressure from the Soviet Union, which wanted to free East Germany, also a Soviet satellite, from any liabilities.

Poland's ruling nationalist Law and Justice (PiS) party says that agreement is invalid because Poland was unable to negotiate fair compensation. It has revived calls for compensation since it took power in 2015 and has made the promotion of Poland's wartime victimhood a central plank of its appeal to nationalism.

The combative stance towards Germany, often used by PiS to mobilise its constituency, has strained relations with Berlin.

In a joint press conference with Polish foreign minister Zbigniew Rau last October, German foreign minister Annalena Baerbock said the pain caused by Germany during World War Two was "passed on through generations" in Poland but that the issue of reparations was closed.

($1 = 4.4324 zlotys)

(Reporting by Alan Charlish; Additional reporting by Victoria Waldersee;Editing by Paul Simao and Mark Potter)