Polish foreign minister signs diplomatic note to Germany on WW2 reparations

FILE PHOTO: General view of a destroyed building during World War II is pictured in Warsaw, Poland April 26, 2019. REUTERS/Kacper Pempel

WARSAW (Reuters) -Polish Foreign Minister Zbigniew Rau has signed a diplomatic note to Germany concerning reparations for World War Two, he said on Monday, formalising Poland's demand for compensation ahead of a visit by Berlin's top diplomat.

The move comes after Poland's ruling nationalists last month estimated Germany owed the country 6.2 trillion zlotys ($1.26 trillion). Germany, Poland's biggest trade partner, has said all financial claims linked to the war had been settled.

"(The note) expresses the position of the Polish minister of foreign affairs that the parties should take immediate steps to permanently and effectively... settle the issue of the consequences of aggression and German occupation," Rau told a news conference.

Foreign ministry spokesman Lukasz Jasina told reporters that Rau would raise the issue with his German counterpart Annalena Baerbock during her visit to Warsaw on Tuesday.

Some six million Poles, including three million Polish Jews, were killed during the war and Warsaw was razed to the ground following a 1944 uprising in which about 200,000 civilians died.

In 1953, Poland's then-communist rulers relinquished all claims to war reparations under pressure from the Soviet Union, which wanted to free East Germany, also a Soviet satellite, from any liabilities.

Poland's ruling nationalists Law and Justice (PiS) say that agreement is invalid because Poland was unable to negotiate fair compensation. It has revived calls for compensation since it took power in 2015 and has made the promotion of Poland's wartime victimhood a central plank of its appeal to nationalism.

The combative stance towards Germany, often used by PiS to mobilise its constituency, has strained relations with Berlin.

The German foreign ministry did not immediately reply to an emailed request for comment.

($1 = 4.9260 zlotys)

(Reporting by Alan Charlish, Marek Strzelecki, Pawel Florkiewicz, and Riham Alkousaa in Berlin, writing by Joanna Plucinska; Editing by Toby Chopra, editing by Ed Osmond)

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