German soldiers in Warsaw in 1945. Photo: Wikipedia Commons/Bundesarchiv
Germany on Friday dismissed Poland's threat to demand new talks for World War II reparations from Berlin, saying the issue was already settled in 1953.
"Poland made a binding decision in August 1953... to relinquish demands for further war reparations," government spokesman Steffen Seibert said, adding that in the view of Berlin, "this issue was therefore settled both legally and politically".
Seibert said that Germany had fully recognised its responsibility in World War II, while emphasising that it had also paid "considerable reparations for overall war damages" to Poland.
The 1953 agreement on reparations signed by Warsaw's communist authorities renounced further claims against Germany.
But Poland's current rightwing government disputes the validity of the post-war deal, saying it was made under the diktat of the Soviet Union.
Polish Prime Minister Beata Szydlo said Thursday that she believed her country had the right to demand further reparations from Germany.
"The position of the Polish government on war reparations will be officially expressed when a political decision is taken," she said in a radio interview.
"In my opinion, Poland has the right to this and the Polish state has the right to ask for them," she said.
"We are ready to go ahead with this procedure."
Poland's foreign and interior ministers have estimated potential reparations reaching as high as $1 trillion (830 billion euros).
Poland suffered the brunt of the two-front attack by Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union during World War II.
Six million Polish citizens, including about three million of Jewish origin, were killed under the Nazi occupation of 1939-45, and Warsaw was virtually razed.
But Poland's powerful Roman Catholic church warned Friday that "poor decisions" by the country's rightwing leaders could "undermine" ties with Germany.
"The manner in which unresolved issues are dealt with in the relations between the two countries is of utmost importance," according to a statement signed by five of Poland's most senior clerics.
"They need to be conducted on a level of wise diplomacy to maintain hard-won trust, not to be undermined by arousing negative social emotions on either side," said the church leaders including Cardinal Kazimierz Nycz and Archbishop Henryk Muszynski.
The clerics pointed to a watershed 1965 letter by Polish and German Catholic bishops which urged reconciliation efforts to overcome the deep wounds left by the war.
"Reconciliation is a word that has defined Polish-German relations for over a quarter-century," they said, adding that "we can easily lose it through poor decisions, and hasty words."
According to a survey by Poland's independent Ibris pollsters published last month, 51 percent of Poles oppose any reparation claims against Germany, while 24 percent believe such claims ought to be made.
The talk of reparations comes as the PiS government is under fire both at home and abroad over a slew of reforms that critics say erode democratic standards and the rule of law.
- MPs begin marathon debate on taxing home owners with no mortgage
- Germany seeks way out of crisis after government talks collapse
- Merkel says ready to lead party in case of new election
- Padmavati to release in 2018; all promotions put on hold for now
- Hackers can kill millions if cars are compromised: Expert
- Retired IAS officer arrested on charges of raping girl in 2013
- Liquor ban impossible, says Siddaramaiah
- Haasan extends supports to Deepika, wants her head saved
- Indian Navy To Receive First of Two Submarine Rescue Systems In March 2018
- Rafale Deal: Being Too Clever by Half
- Rafale Deal Truth Revealed: Dassault, US Ex-Envoy Flagged HAL’s Quality Incompetence
- China Dismisses Pakistan General's Allegation of RAW Sabotaging CPEC
- Indian Industry Should Draw Up 50-Yr Plan For Defence Supplies: Defence Minister
- Boost To Make In India Program: DRDO To Develop Man-Portable Anti-Tank Guided Indigenously
- Pakistan Seeks Polish Assault Rifles
- Israel’s Titanic Eight-Nation Air Force Exercise Concludes
- Amsterdam wins race to host the European Medicines Agency
- Family of Israeli held captive in Gaza turns to the UN for help
- Newcomer Lindner under fire for torpedoing Merkel's coalition hopes
- Beatles for sale: Berlin police recover John Lennon diaries