Poland's new government asks Germany to think creatively about compensation for World War II losses

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Poland Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski, left, speaks during a joint press conference with his German counterpart Annalena Baerbock at the Foreign Ministry in Berlin, Tuesday, Jan. 30, 2024. (AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi)

BERLIN – The foreign minister in Poland's new pro-European Union government said Tuesday he would like Germany's leaders to think in a “creative” way about compensating Poland for huge losses it suffered at German hands during World War II.

The request was greatly toned down from that of Poland's previous right-wing government, which had demanded $1.3 trillion in reparations for Nazi Germany’s invasion and occupation in 1939-45.

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German officials have consistently said that while Berlin recognizes its historical responsibility, the issue of reparations was settled decades ago.

Foreign Minister Radek Sikorski spoke at a joint news conference with German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock in Berlin before their talks on improving bilateral relations that were strained under Poland's previous government.

“I will also ask the minister (to make) the German government think in a creative way about finding a form of compensation for these war losses, or of redress,” Sikorski said when talking about a project in Berlin to memorialize Poland's suffering.

He did not give details.

Baerbock said that “confronting the suffering of millions (of people) that Germany brought on Poland remains a task for ever.” She didn’t address calls for reparations.

A nation of some 31 million in 1939, Poland lost some 6 million of its citizens, half of them Jewish, during Nazi wartime occupation. It also suffered enormous damage to its industry, infrastructure and cultural heritage.

Germany has been insisting the matter of reparations was closed by decisions taken during communist times, when Warsaw relinquished seeking reparations. Poland stresses it was under the domination of the Soviet Union at that time, so the declaration was made under Moscow’s pressure and was not legally binding.

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