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Poland totals WWII occupation’s cost amid Germany claim talk

August 31, 2018

FILE - In this Friday, April 6, 2018 file photo, Jaroslaw Kaczynski, the leader of Poland's ruling party, Law and Justice, speaks during the inauguration of a memorial for the Smolensk plane crash, in Budapest, Hungary. Poland said Friday, Aug. 31 it lost over 5 million citizens and over $54 billion dollars (46.6 billion euros) worth of assets under the Nazi German occupation of the country during World War II. A parliamentary commission announced the numbers, saying they are preliminary, as part of the current Polish government’s declared intent to seek damages from Germany. Ruling party leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski argues that Poland was the first to be attacked Sept. 1, 1939, to put up resistance and that it suffered the greatest losses. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic, file)

WARSAW, Poland (AP) — A parliamentary commission in Poland reported Friday that the country lost more than 5 million citizens and over $54 billion dollars (46.6 billion euros) worth of assets under its Nazi German occupation during World War II.

The commission announced the numbers 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 the 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 neighborly 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 percent of the Jewish population that numbered about 3.5 million before the war.

Losses in cities were estimated to be worth 53 billion zlotys ($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.

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