Poland’s ruling officials are stepping up calls to demand compensation from Germany for damages caused in World War II, potentially deepening a divide between the European Union’s largest eastern member and the bloc’s biggest economy.
Deputy Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki lamented that Poland was “massacred” by the country’s neighbor in the war, echoing recent statements by Defense Minister Antoni Macierewicz and ruling party leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski. Last month, the latter linked the Nazi invasion to Poland’s moral right to aid from the EU, which is weighing potential sanctions against Poland for flouting the bloc’s standards on democracy and the rule of law.
“The historic bills have not been settled, that’s obvious,” Morawiecki told reporters on Tuesday in Warsaw. “That’s a separate chapter from the present day economic life, and I believe that our partners in Germany understand that.”
A lawmaker from Kaczynski’s Law & Justice Party asked last week for a parliamentary analysis on whether Poland has grounds to seek damages from Germany. Such a claim may pit the country of 38 million against its biggest economic partner, as trade with Germany amounts to more than $100 billion a year — more than a quarter of imports and exports and more than the next five countries combined. It also underscores a growing trend in which some EU members, including Hungary, are pursuing national interests in ways that are creating tensions with other states.