Germany Rejects Repeated Demands From Poland for World War II Reparations

The German government points to a 1953 declaration in which it says Poland waived all claims to further compensation

A workers puts up a poster in Warsaw, Poland, calling on Germany to pay reparations for World War II to Poland, August 24, 2017.
Czarek Sokolowski/AP

The German government on Friday rejected claims by Poland that it should pay hundreds of millions of dollars in reparations for World War II.

The demand has been voiced by key figures in Poland's national-conservative government, most recently by Prime Minister Beata Szydlo, who spoke of her plans to push for a payment in an interview with Polish broadcaster RMF FM.

Responding to Szydlo's comments, German government spokesman Steffen Seibert cited a postwar declaration in which Poland had waived its right to further compensation.

While insisting that Germany took full responsibility for the "unspeakable crimes" of Nazi Germany, Seibert said his government saw "no reason to doubt the internationally binding effect of the 1953 reparations waiver."

Poland suffered massively at the hands of invading Nazi Germany in World War II; some 6 million people were killed.

The renewed debate over payments by Germany to its formerly occupied neighbor comes at a time of already tense relations between Berlin and Warsaw, due to political differences over migration and an ongoing legal procedure against Poland by the European Union.

An exact figure has not been placed on the restitution that Poland intends to seek.

Interior Minister Mariusz Blaszczak placed the sum of material damages at 1 trillion dollars in a televised interview. Foreign Minister Witold Waszczykowski later said in comments to RMF: "Perhaps even more."