Germany refuses to pay Poland’s WW2 reparation bill
WW2 veteran reunites with children he rescued 76 years ago
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German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said that the question of World War Two reparations for Poland was closed during a visit to Warsaw on Tuesday. Ms Baerbock said during a joint news conference with her Polish counterpart, Zbigniew Rau, that she had discussed the diplomatic note to Germany with him in person and reiterated the German government’s position that the matter was settled.
She said: “You already know the Federal Government’s position on this issue. Germany stands by its historical responsibility without any ifs and buts. It remains our ever-lasting task to remember the millions of years of suffering that Germany inflicted on Poland. It inflicted it with a brutality that caused a completely different kind of pain in Poland than in other places. With an inhuman campaign of oppression, of Germanisation, of pure extermination. We must keep the memory of this alive again and again, also among young people in Germany.
“Here in Poland it is palpable, and that is why I am always grateful for every visit between us, also as Foreign Minister, to talk to the people last night. Because it is always palpable how present this pain still is today. And not only with 90-year-olds, but also with 9-year-olds, because this pain is passed down through generations.
“And perhaps in Germany we are not aware of this every day and not always. And we have to remind ourselves of this again and again, especially in Germany. I believe that this is something we can and must continue to work on together. At the same time, the question of reparations is, as you know, closed from the point of view of the Federal Government.
“The good news, and for me this is always the most important thing in all of this where we may have different opinions,, is that the good news is that we have a common future with our European Union.”
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Poland’s ruling nationalists last month estimated Germany owed the country 6.2 trillion zlotys (£1.2 trillion). Germany, Poland’s biggest trade partner, has said all financial claims linked to the war had been settled.
Speaking at a news conference after sending an official note to the German government on Monday, Mr Rau said: “(The note) expresses the position of the Polish minister of foreign affairs that the parties should take immediate steps to permanently and effectively… settle the issue of the consequences of aggression and German occupation.”
Foreign ministry spokesman Lukasz Jasina told reporters that Mr Rau would raise the issue with his German counterpart during her visit to Warsaw today.
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.
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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 nationalists Law and Justice (PiS) say 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.
Additional reporting by Monika Pallenberg
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