Poland estimates its losses during World War II at $1.3 trillion and demands reparations from Germany

Poland’s largest trading partner and a member of the European Union and NATO, Germany has previously said that all financial claims related to World War II have been settled.

Poland’s new estimate exceeds the $850 billion estimate made by a ruling party MP in 2019. The ruling Law and Justice Party (PiS) has repeatedly called for compensation since coming to power in 2015, but Poland has not officially demanded redress.

“The amount that was presented was accepted in the most limited, conservative way, it could have been increased,” Yaroslav Kaczynski, leader of the Law and Justice (PiS) party, said at a press conference.

The bellicose stance towards Germany, which the PiS often uses to mobilize its supporters, has strained relations with Berlin. It intensified after Russia invaded Ukraine amid criticism of Berlin’s dependence on Russian gas and its slowness in helping Kyiv.

About 6 million Poles, including 3 million Polish Jews, were killed during the war, and Warsaw was razed to the ground after a 1944 uprising that killed about 200,000 civilians.

The German government and foreign ministry did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

In 1953, the then communist rulers of Poland renounced all claims for war reparations under pressure from the Soviet Union, which wanted to free East Germany, also a satellite of the USSR, from any obligations. PiS says the agreement is invalid because Poland failed to agree on just compensation.

Donald Tusk, leader of Poland’s largest opposition party, Civic Platform, said on Thursday that Kaczynski’s statement “was not about reparations.”

“We are talking about a domestic political campaign to restore support for the ruling party,” he said.

PiS still leads most opinion polls, but its lead over Civic Platform has shrunk in recent months amid criticism over how it handles rising inflation and the economic downturn.

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