Germany snubs Poland's claim for World War II reparations

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By Euronews  with AFP, AP
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz welcomes Poland's Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki in Berlin, Germany, Thursday, Nov. 3, 2022.
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz welcomes Poland's Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki in Berlin, Germany, Thursday, Nov. 3, 2022.   -   Copyright  Michele Tantussi/Copyright 2022 The AP. All rights reserved

Germany has rejected Warsaw's request to enter into talks on compensating Poland for damage caused during World War II, the Polish Foreign Ministry announced on Tuesday.

Berlin considers the matter closed, according to the ministry. 

It said Poland would now turn to the United Nations to support its attempt to win compensation of €1.2 billion suffered under Nazi Germany's 1939-45 occupation. 

"According to the German government, the case of reparations and compensation for war damage remains closed," said the ministry in a press release. "The German government does not intend to open negotiations on this matter."

Poland was devastated by World War II, with 220 out of every 1000 inhabitants killed in the violence. 

About 40% of Poland's cultural property was destroyed, and nearly half of its territory was handed to the Soviet Union after the war concluded. 

Germany argues compensation was paid to Eastern Bloc nations in the years after the war, while territories that Poland lost in the east as borders were compensated with some of Germany’s prewar lands. 

Poland sent the official demand to Germany last October. 

Berlin has insisted the matter was closed due to a decision made during the Communist era, which saw Warsaw drop its demand for reparations. 

Poland claims it stopped seeking compensation at the time because of pressure from Moscow. 

Polish diplomats took the case to the UN on Tuesday, asking the organisation for its "cooperation and support so that Poland can receive compensation for the damage caused by aggression and occupation by the Germans."

There was no immediate comment from the UN. 

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

Germany maintains that Poland waived war reparations in 1953. It was Moscow that decided Poland would receive only a small fraction of the compensation.

Berlin has raised the same arguments against reparations claims raised in the past by Greece and Italy. 

During her visit to Warsaw in October, German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said that "from the point of view of the federal government, the question of reparations was closed."

She said her country had assumed "its historical responsibility".

Since coming to power in Poland in 2015, the ruling PiS party has often championed the issue of war reparations, insisting that Germany has a "moral duty" in the matter.