Not only Germany but also Russia should pay damages for the Polish losses during WWII, Jarosław Kaczyński, the head of Poland's ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party told the German daily Bild on Saturday.
"Russia should pay, too. However, I don't think our generation will live to see Russia admitting its responsibility. One thing is certain: our demands will not expire," Mr Kaczyński said.
The PiS leader also said that Russian President Vladimir Putin used history for his own political aims.
The truth that hurts
"[Vladimir Putin] tries to turn people's attention towards us, Poles, in order to obscure the involvement of his own country in the outbreak of WWII and the consequences of this fact," Mr Kaczyński said.
However, he added he is convinced that "the world knows the truth" that the Soviet Union invaded Poland on September 17, 1939, and that “the Soviet soldiers and the Soviet security apparatus NKVD, murdered thousands of Polish officers in Katyń and elsewhere in 1940... or deported them to Siberia or Kazakhstan. Many returned to Poland only in the late 1950s. Others never made it," Mr Kaczynski said.
According to the PiS leader, Putin cannot accept the role of Russians as the perpetrators and the Polish people as the victims, and therefore he wants to rewrite history.
The PiS leader expressed his satisfaction with German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier and Chancellor Angela Merkel having “clearly admitted Germany's guilt and responsibility for the war and the murder of millions" and hence "made it difficult for Russia and its president to spread further lies, and depict Poles in a bad light."
"The facts speak for themselves. During WWII, six million Polish citizens were killed, including three million Polish Jews," Mr Kaczyński said.
“The entire Polish economy, its streets, factories, listed buildings and cultural goods were destroyed, razed to the ground. Besides, Poland was also already destroyed during WWI, especially the former Kingdom of Poland, that until the end of WWI found itself at Tsarist Russia’s territory and by which it was exploited. For this Poland has not received reparations as well,” said Mr Kaczyński.
According to the Polish politician, Warsaw will not put up with not having received reparations for war damage, admitting that the claims should not only be directed towards Berlin but also towards the Kremlin.
However, Mr Kaczyński stressed that Germany and Russia cannot be compared. While Berlin has a democratically elected government and applies the rule of law, this cannot be said about the latter.
NATO’s presence important
The PiS leader also said that Russia “attacks wherever it sees a weak spot and an opportunity for victory. Such was the case of Crimea and even eastern Ukraine.”
“Nonetheless, [Russia] finds itself challenged wherever it encounters a decisive resistance, even a diplomatic one,” Mr Kaczyński told Bild, adding that “this relates to Poland and the Baltic States. That is why NATO’s presence here is of such gravity.”