According to Polish Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister Arkadiusz Mularczyk, Germany's ruling Social Democrats (SPD) party is ready to "solve" the lingering issue of war reparations with Poland. Mularczyk said on Tuesday during a meeting in Warsaw that the SPD government led by German Chancellor Olaf Scholz "understand the problem and wants to solve it in some way in a formula of dialogue with Poland."
While Poland has repeatedly raised the topic of World War II reparations with Germany, Berlin has continuously dismissed Warsaw's requests. The latest of which was for an estimated €1.5 trillion that Poland claimed Germany owed for material and humanitarian losses during WWII.
After a series of meetings and letters regarding Poland's requests for reparations from Germany, Mularczyk received a letter from the German SPD government saying it is ready to resolve the issue. Mularczyk said:
"There was a series of meetings with German MPs, in Warsaw, with MPs of the Polish-German friendship group, but also in Berlin, with a number of German parliamentarians. The largest was a meeting at the German Council on Foreign Relations, DGAP, where there was a group of at lest a dozen parliamentarians. Recently, I sent a letter to all members of the Bundestag and Bundesrat on this issue, and you will be the first to know that I've just received a thank you from the Coordinator of German-Polish Intersocietal and Cross-Border Cooperation at the Federal Foreign Office in the coalition government of Chancellor Olaf Scholz, Dietmar Nietan, writing on behalf of the SPD, that they understand the problem and want to solve it in some way in a formula of dialogue with Poland and also with me."
While in the past Germany has claimed that the issue of reparations to Poland is "settled," Warsaw has pressed the issue through both diplomatic and political means to force Berlin to acknowledge Poland's detrimental losses during World War II.
After Germany refused to pay reparations to Poland in 2022, Mularczyk said, "Now, Germany has a choice: Either it sits down with Poland at the negotiating table, or we will raise the issue in all international forums - in the UN, in the Council of Europe and in the European Union."
In December 2022, Mularczyk approached the secretary general of the Council of Europe for assistance with Warsaw's reparations claim against Berlin. At that time, he said that Germany had refused to discuss the matter.
Germany has long referred to the 1953 agreement between Poland and Germany in which Poland's then-communist leaders abandoned all demands for reparations due to being pressured by the Soviet Union, which was seeking to relieve East Germany of any liability.
Poland, however, has argued that the agreement is invalid as it was agreed to under duress and because the country has not received adequate compensation for its losses during WWII. Mularczyk has also cited a lack of formal documentation of Poland's relinquishing of reparation demands as a reason to continue to push for compensation.
While it is unclear how far German officials are willing to take the reparations discussion, acknowledgment of the need for such talks appears to be a positive first step from Poland's perspective.
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