Germany's WW2 reparations stance can change, says Polish minister

Polish Foreign Minister Zbigniew Rau speaks during a news conference with Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto in Helsinki, Finland, July 1, 2022. Lehtikuva/Emmi Korhonen/via REUTERS

WARSAW, Oct 4 (Reuters) - Poland believes that Germany can be convinced to change its position on World War Two reparations, the foreign minister said on Tuesday, even as his German counterpart reiterated at a joint news conference that for Berlin the issue was closed.

Poland's ruling nationalists have been ramping up hostile rhetoric towards Berlin during meetings with voters, and the issue of Poland's suffering at the hands of the German Nazi regime remains raw for many people in the country.

"Polish society still feels the trauma of the German attack in 1939... this limits and puts a brake on the possibility of further development and deepening of Polish-German relations," Zbigniew Rau said.

Rau said he hoped Germany's position would evolve through further dialogue.

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said the pain caused by Germany during World War Two "is passed on through generations".

"At the same time, the question of reparations, from the German government's view, is closed," she added.

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.

Reporting by Alan Charlish, Pawel Florkiewicz, Marek Strzelecki in Warsaw, Miranda Murray in Berlin; Editing by Andrew Heavens and Ed Osmond

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