When the Polish government announced on September 1st its plans to demand reparations from Germany for the damage sustained during Nazi occupation, the Polish opposition mocked the proposal. They called it a “distracting maneuver,” designed—according to Donald Tusk—for “rebuilding support for the ruling party.” But less than two weeks later, the Polish opposition of the Civic Coalition changed its mind. They are now demanding that Germany and Russia be pursued for reparations.
According to Borys Budka, the head of the parliamentary caucus of the Civic Coalition, Poland should consider that “if we are talking about the settlement of war grievances and damages, we must talk about those who led to the outbreak of World War II, that is fascist Germany and communist Soviet Union.” Budka pointed to the alliance between Germany and the Soviet Union, and the subsequent division of Poland between the two foreign powers in September 1939, adding that this “is why we want to mention Russia as an entity responsible for the Second World War in this reparations resolution, with all its consequences.”
The Civic Coalition plans to submit a parliamentary resolution calling for reparations from both Germany and Russia. If this motion is turned down, however, the alliance of oppositional parties will seek to add amendments to the resolution of the ruling Law and Justice party (PiS), which so far only calls for reparations from Germany.
The idea of reparation demands from Russia isn’t entirely new in Poland. PiS chairman Jarosław Kaczyński suggested already in 2020 that Russia “should also pay” for the damage sustained from 1939 onwards throughout the occupation. But this notion was rejected by the Russian ambassador in Warsaw, who turned the tables by claiming that Poland had “an unpaid debt to Russia and other countries of the former Soviet Union,” as it was these countries that “liberated” Poland from Nazi Germany.
Given the current diplomatic tensions between the most politically influential Slavic nations, it seems unlikely that Russia will pay much heed to these latest demands. Earlier, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz had already clarified that he considered the matter of reparations settled long ago.