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Poland tempers reparation demand from Germany

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Polish Foreign Minister Radosław Sikorski significantly softened Warsaw’s demand for reparations from Germany and proposed an alternative settlement to the long-standing dispute, such as investments in Poland’s defense.

“We are asking the German government to put together a package that will convince our public and show them: Aha, the Germans are ready to deal with the issue,” Sikorski said in an interview with Spiegel published Friday.

He did not repeat the previous Polish government’s demand for up to $1.3 trillion in compensation for the destruction caused by the Nazi occupation. The Law and Justice (PiS) party made that demand to Berlin in 2022.

“If Berlin wants to transfer the money — you’re very welcome! We will even grant a discount if the money is received by the end of the year,” Sikorski said, and then added: “But seriously: money is a difficult issue in times of war and crisis.”

Instead, the foreign minister suggested that the German government give a “visible sign” that Germany acknowledges the damage to Poland during the occupation, such as “a documentation center, a center for dialogue that recognizes the suffering of the Poles and is also a memorial.”

He added: “There could also be a second visible sign, for example by the Germans rebuilding one of the buildings they destroyed in Warsaw, perhaps the Saxon Palace.”

He further suggested that the Germans “could also finance medical care for survivors” or “invest in the defense capabilities of our countries so that we can defend ourselves together against Putin.“

“The Germans have a fragile memory,” Sikorski said. “They know about the Holocaust and remember the blockade of Leningrad and Stalingrad. But they have forgotten what they did to the Polish civilian population.”

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