A parliamentary commission in Poland has reported that the country lost more than 5 million citizens and over USD 54 billion dollars (46.6 billion euros) worth of assets under its Nazi German occupation during World War II. The commission announced the numbers yesterday as part of the current Polish government’s declared intent to seek damages from Germany. It said the figures were preliminary estimates.
The leader of the ruling Law and Justice party, Jaroslaw Kaczynski, argues that as the first country the Nazis attacked in 1939, Poland also was the first to put up resistance and suffered greatest losses.
Observers say the talk of pursuing damages from Germany is addressed largely to elderly Polish voters. Poland has not made an official appeal, and Foreign Minister Jacek Czaputowicz said earlier this year that the issue was not weighing on Warsaw’s good neighbourly relations with Berlin.
Poland spent decades under Soviet domination after the war and wasn’t able to seek damages independently. However, Germany has made payments to Polish survivors of Nazi atrocities.
The preliminary calculations done for the commission by university experts put the number of Polish citizens killed from 1939 to 1945 at 5.1 million, including 90 per cent of the Jewish population that numbered about 3.5 million before the war.
Losses in cities were estimated to be worth 53 billion zlotys (USD 14 billion; 12 billion euros,) with Warsaw alone accounting for more than two-thirds of the total cost. Additional losses in agriculture and transportation infrastructure also were factored in.
The full report is expected to be published next year, commission head Arkadiusz Mularczyk said.