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Poland wants Germany to pay 1.3 trillion euros in WWII reparations

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Jaroslaw Kaczynski, the head of Poland's ruling party Law and Justice (file photo by AP)

Poland estimates its World War Two losses caused by Germany at 6.2 trillion zlotys (about $1.32 trillion) and says it would “ask Berlin to negotiate these reparations.”

“It is a major sum of 6.2 trillion” zlotys, said Deputy Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski, head of the ruling Law and Justice party (PiS), at a conference on Thursday. He said receiving reparations would be a "long and difficult" process.

Kaczynski also said it was Poland’s “obligation” to seek reparations. “The sum that was presented was adopted using the most limited, conservative method, it would be possible to increase it.”

Kaczynski was speaking at an event for the release of a long-awaited report on the cost to the country of years of Nazi German occupation as it marks 83 years since the start of World War II. “We not only prepared the report but we have also taken the decision as to the further steps.”

The war was “one of the most terrible tragedies in our history,” President Andrzej Duda said during early morning observances at the Westerplatte peninsula near Gdansk, one of the first places to be attacked in the Nazi invasion.

A team of some 30 economists, historians and other experts, has worked on the report since 2017. The issue has created bilateral tensions.

Poland’s right-wing government argues that the country, which was the war’s first victim, has not been fully compensated by neighboring Germany.

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

Poland’s government rejects a 1953 declaration by the country’s then Communist leaders under pressure from the Soviet Union, agreeing not to make any further claims on Germany.

Germany argues compensation was paid to the East Bloc nations in the years after the war. Berlin calls the matter closed. The country's ruling nationalists say that agreement is invalid because Poland was unable to negotiate fair compensation.

Poland’s ruling party has repeated calls for compensation several times since it took power in 2015. The combative stance towards Germany has strained relations with Berlin.

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