Why Poland Wants Germany to Pay Billions for World War II
If you’d visited Warsaw in 1945, you might not have recognized it as a city at all. Destroyed by the Nazis in retribution for a 1944 uprising, the city was pocked by craters and reduced to miles and miles of rubble. It wasn’t just the capital: Much of Poland was rubble by the end of the war.
In the decades since, Poland has rebuilt and regrown. But the memory of its six-year Nazi occupation still stings—and for years, a spat over whether Germany owes reparations for its actions toward Poland during World War II has threatened diplomatic relations between the two countries. In March 2018 the issue boiled over again when Arkadiusz Mularczyk, a Polish lawmaker, asserted that Germany owed reparations that could be worth as much as $850 billion.
The claim rests on the breadth of destruction and suffering the country withstood between its invasion by Nazis in 1939 and the conclusion of the war, in 1945. Eighteen percent of Poland’s population perished during World War II: The Nazis murdered 3 million Polish Jews and killed another 3 million Poles, including civilians and military members. In addition, cultural objects were looted by the Nazis, industrial sites were razed, and cities were destroyed.