By Thomas Escritt
BERLIN (Reuters) – Poland should follow Greece in stepping up pressure on Germany to pay billions of euros in damages for Nazi occupation during World War Two, a lawmaker in charge of Warsaw’s reparations campaign said on Thursday.
Greece’s parliament voted a day earlier to launch a diplomatic push to press its case – and Berlin responded by reiterating its position that all such claims by invaded countries had long been settled.
Arkadiusz Mularczyk, who heads the Polish parliamentary committee on reparations, said in a tweet that the Greek vote showed WW2 compensation had become an international issue.
“It’s time for a decision from the Polish Sejm (lower house of Parliament),” added the lawmaker from the ruling nationalist Law and Justice party.
The campaigns highlight the challenge faced by Germany whose role as Europe’s economic titan is burdened by the resentment many still feel about the crimes of Adolf Hitler’s regime.
A Greek commission estimated in 2016 that Athens was owed 300 billion euros (£259.2 billion) for the atrocities it suffered and a forced loan to Hitler’s Reich.
Poland’s has demanded about 800 billion euros. Six million Poles, including three million Polish Jews, were killed during the war. The capital Warsaw was razed to the ground by Nazis in 1944 after a failed uprising in which 200,000 civilians died.
Germany says the award, under Soviet pressure, of East German territory to Poland in 1953 settled its debt to Warsaw. It says it settled its obligations to Athens in 1960.
“The question of reparations has been definitively closed, in legal and political terms,” a German government spokesman said again on Thursday.
The calls for renewed reparation campaign comes ahead of Greek and Polish parliamentary elections this year – and of European Parliament elections across the bloc in May.
(Reporting by Renee Maltzeou in Athens, Alan Charlish and Joanna Plucinska in Warsaw, and Andreas Rinke in Berlin, writing by Thomas Escritt)