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Poland ponders demanding Germany pay WWII reparations

WARSAW, Poland — Poland is looking into demanding reparations from Germany for the massive losses inflicted on Poland during World War II, an official said Wednesday.

The Polish parliament’s research office is preparing an analysis of whether Poland can legally make the claim and will have it ready by Aug. 11, said Arkadiusz Mularczyk, a lawmaker with the ruling Law and Justice party who requested the report.

The step comes after Jaroslaw Kaczynski, Poland’s most powerful politician, said the “Polish government is preparing itself for a historical counteroffensive.”

“We are talking here about huge sums, and also about the fact that Germany for many years refused to take responsibility for World War II,” Kaczynski, the leader of the conservative ruling party, told Radio Maryja last week.

The massive suffering inflicted on Poland has been a topic of public discussion as Poland marked the anniversary Tuesday of the start of the Warsaw Uprising of 1944. The doomed revolt against the Nazi German occupying forces resulted in the killing of 200,000 Poles and the near-total destruction of Warsaw, the Polish capital.

Amid the observances, Defense Minister Antoni Macierewicz said Germans need to “pay back the terrible debt they owe to the Polish people.”

World War II, which began with the German invasion of Poland in 1939, killed nearly 6 million Polish citizens and inflicted huge material loss on the country, including the destruction of churches and other cultural treasures and entire cities.

Kaczynski also called for reparations from Germany when he was prime minister more than a decade ago, creating tensions between Poland and Germany, which are important trade partners and allies in NATO and the European Union.

Germany has paid billions of euros over the years in compensation for Nazi crimes, primarily to Jewish survivors, and acknowledges the country’s responsibility for keeping alive the memory of Nazi atrocities and atoning for them.

Poland’s former communist government, under pressure from the Soviet Union, agreed in the 1950s not to make any claims on Germany.

Macierewicz said Tuesday that communist-era Poland was a “Soviet puppet state” whose decision is not legally valid today.

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