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POLAND on Thursday said it would demand roughly 1.35 trillion euros in reparations from Germany for damages caused by the Nazi invasion and occupation of the country during World War II.
The leader of Poland’s ruling Law and Justice party (PiS) Jaroslaw Kaczynski made the announcement during the presentation of a report drawn up by his party that calculated the sum of material and demographic losses at some 6.2 trillion zlotys.
“The objective, probably in the long-term, is to receive compensation for what Germany and the German nation did to us between 1939 and 1945,” Kaczynski, co-founder of the right-wing PiS and deputy prime minister, said.
Kaczynski said the estimates drawn up in the three-volume report unveiled on Thursday, the 83rd anniversary of the Nazi invasion of Poland, were conservative and could have been higher.
“It is a large sum, but considering that reparations from war are paid over the decades, the German economy can manage it,” he added.
The report states that as a result of the war, Poland lost 30,077 square miles of territory and its population dropped from 35.1 million in 1939 to 23.9 million in 1946.
More than five million Poles are estimated to have died at the hands of the Nazis in Poland, including some three million Jews murdered in the Holocaust.
Poland’s population did not recover until 1978.
While the claim launched Thursday is bold, some have cast doubt on whether it has the legal underpinning to see it through.
In 1953, the Communist government in Poland signed a declaration renouncing reparation demands from Germany, a move that has been ratified by subsequent governments in the democratic era.
A 1945 agreement allocated Poland 15% of the reparations paid by Germany to the Soviet Union, equating to about $25 billion in today’s money.
Those reparations were transferred to Poland at a time when Warsaw was obliged to send coal back to Moscow at low prices.