Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski at a press conferencje at which he was asked about second world war reparations from Germany EPA-EFE/Piotr Nowak POAND OUT


Sikorski makes clear Poland won’t let reparation claims get in the way of good relations with Germany


Polish foreign minister Radosław Sikorski now admits Warsaw cannot legally make reparations claims for Second World War damages from Germany, as the matter was closed in the 1950s. There was now only a moral obligation on Germany to find ways to provide compensation for Poland, he added.

Sikorski’s remarks came at a joint press conference with British Foreign Secretary David Cameron who visited Warsaw on February 15.

Poland will not reopen the issue of reparations because the matter had been settled at the Potsdam Conference following the war, said the Polish foreign minister.

The 1945 conference of the “Big Three” postwar leaders–Churchill (until replaced by Attlee in July), Stalin, and Truman–agreed Poland would receive 15 per cent of the reparations Germany would pay the Soviet Union.

The Soviets failed to pay Poland, noted Sikorski, who felt that Poland’s previous Conservative (PiS) government should have moved against Russia, as successor state of the USSR, to pay Poland the owed reparations. 

However, according to international law, reparations can only be claimed from an aggressor who has lost a war, and the USSR was a victor in the Second World War.

In an earlier interview on the Poland’s state broadcaster’s TVP Info channel, Sikorski highlighted Germany’s acknowledgment of a moral debt to Poland.

Sikorski added the task now “was to ensure that the Germans found a way of monetising that. Since the former PiS government failed to achieve any progress on this matter, our government feels that it is up to the Germans to suggest ways in which moral order can be restored and Poles convinced that the Germans really are sorry and want to do something to remedy the situation.”

Sikorski criticised the former PiS government for being disingenuous over the reparations issue.

“If PiS politicians really believed in reparations they would have mentioned the word ‘reparations’ in the diplomatic note on the Second World War damages they submitted to Germany in 2022,” he said. 

The previous PiS government sent Berlin a diplomatic note that year claiming compensation for Second World War damages. In a report attached to the note it listed claims in the order of $1.6 trillion. 

Berlin rejected the note, stating the issue of reparations and compensation was closed, and the German government had nothing more to add on the subject.

Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk, meeting with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz in Berlin on February 12, declared that although Germany has a moral obligation to “do something”, he did not want Polish losses during the Second World War to cause hostility between the two nations.

Tusk indicated he wanted to move on, saying let us “look towards the future”, admitting that “in a formal, legal, and international sense, the issue of reparations was closed many years ago”.

The issue of moral, financial and material compensation was never settled, but this was not his or Scholz’s fault, said Tusk.

“Unlike my predecessors, I will attempt to find forms of cooperation with Chancellor Scholz that will ensure this subject will not poison relations between our two countries,” he added.

However, Tusk enigmatically acknowledged “Germany has some ground to make up here” to ensure good relations with Poland.

Nevertheless, he left his German hosts with a clear signal that reparations were not going to be a major issue for his government.