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It's a safe assumption that Russia won't pay a dime. However, comparing 5+ years of German vs 's 50-ish years of Russian occupation, couldn't Poland make a point about the colonial damaged caused by being in the Soviet sphere and not a Western-style liberal democratic political country (or whatever they wanted to be)?

Due to historic reasons, Poland could have a stronger dislike towards Germany, but both being in the EU and in peaceful terms since decades, could lead to a more agreeable interaction. And it's certainly not the case Poland has a very positive view of Russia, although both are Slavic, we can clearly observe their anti-Russia stance (for example, by helping Ukraine).

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  • 58
    Speaking from Poland... That's actually not Poland that is demanding reparations. That's just PiS (gov party). And it is mostly just a publicity stunt. Not a real thing.
    – Nux
    Sep 6 at 10:32
  • 1
    First half is answered here more or less.
    – Fizz
    Sep 6 at 12:12

4 Answers 4

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You answer the question in your first sentence.

Poland makes requests of Germany because it thinks there is some potential advantage in it. The Polish government thinks that Germany might be convinced/ pressured into making some sort of concession. It might be an agreement to support some EU policy that benefits Poland, it might be additional investment in Polish industry, it might be something else. It's unlikely that $1.3 trillion is on the table but there are plenty of ways an agreement might be concluded.

Poland doesn't bother making requests of Russia because it knows there is no potential advantage in it. The Russian government is hardly concerned with the impact on its standing among other governments so it isn't bothered if Poland or other former satellite states want to complain about their time behind the Iron Curtain. If anything, making a demand for massive reparations might lead Russian nationalists to look for excuses to "liberate" parts of Poland that belonged to historical Russian states (a la Ukraine).

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    There's also still some lingering sense of collective guilt in Germany for the actions of the Third Reich, but there seems to be very little of that same sentiment in current Russia for the actions of the Soviet Union.
    – TooTea
    Sep 6 at 7:07
  • 8
    @TooTea second that, while here in Ger especially old people always feel guilty for the things their parents did, my Russian friends always seemed to celebrate Stalin and UDSSR in general. Call it ignorance, false nationalism, indoctrination. After all, the UDSSR existed for long enough time to pass the "glorious" stories of famous russian heros and inventors to the minds of little kids. In 3rd Reich, which lasted for only around 12 years, there was the Hitlerjugend, but seeing their home burn down would probably shake even the dumbest kid wide awake.
    – clockw0rk
    Sep 6 at 8:30
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    There's also the point that the right wing government hopes to score some popularity points to drum up a case against germany
    – Hobbamok
    Sep 6 at 8:45
  • 4
    @TooTea It's not much about increasing popularity of government but rather decreasing popularity of opposition. Many opposition leaders got labeled as pro-German and have some problems how to react to reparation demands. Pro-Russian politics have little chances in Poland so nothing to score here. Sep 6 at 10:21
  • 3
    @TheNorman Sorry, but that argument doesn't really hold water. Just as many Germans were oppressed by the Nazi regime as Russians by the USSR. And just like present-day Germany formed the bulk of the Third Reich, Russia formed the bulk of the USSR. Yet my impression is that the Soviet regime is not viewed by many Russians nearly as negatively as the Nazi regime is viewed by the vast majority of Germans.
    – TooTea
    Sep 7 at 18:46
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War reparations are paid for actual wars and when some peace agreements after the war agreed that there are any war reparations due. Poland cannot just invent a claim for some occupation that was indeed result of Russian imperialism covered in communist clothes but was much more complicated and involved Polish domestic communists as well.

Soviet Union was on a victorious side of WW2 and hence there were no talks of reparations for the Soviet war of 1939 against Poland. This war was not to be mentioned at all and Poland was shifted westward to the Oder/Neise border instead, into areas that belonged to Germany.

On the other hand, there were actual war reparations agreed after WW2 during the peace talks. They were later mostly abandoned by the claimants in order to not repeat the Versailles and to make the reconstruction of Germany possible. For the eastern bloc countries this was more complicated. Czechoslovakia expelled Germans from Sudetenland and hence got their property instead. The reparations claim was basically settled based on this (and hence any restitutions of individual properties lost by former German citizens of Czechoslovakia were ruled out even after 1990) . Poland,however, had a more complicated situation "Poland was to be excluded from the proceedings of the IARA by demand from the Soviet Union. The Allies agreed as part of the Potsdam Agreement, that the Soviet Union collects and distributes the Polish share of reparations. Furthermore, the Soviet Union would extract its share of reparations mostly from the territory in its own occupation zone." (the linked Wikipedia).

They key is that those reparations for multiple countries were collectively agreed by the peace talks by all sides of the Potsdam conference, it was not just something Poland would invent because it thought it deserved it. Whether it makes sense to demand the reparations now and from Germany (not Russia instead - based on the post WW2 provisions) and the current validity of the claim is a different question. To a layman, it may seem that those extensive areas that Poland got could be quite sufficient instead.

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    Poland also expelled persons deemed German: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/…
    – phk
    Sep 6 at 7:49
  • 4
    @phk There is, however, a large difference between expulsion of German citizens who lived in parts of former Germany that became Poland and between expulsion of former citizens of Czechoslovakia (who lost their citizenship based on their German ethnicity declared in a pre-war census) from Czechoslovakia itself. Your link mostly talks about the "Recovered Territories". Sep 6 at 8:22
  • I think the premise that Reparations are paid for actual wars is wrong. There are also reparations for colonialism and other damage.
    – Mayou36
    Sep 6 at 15:00
  • @Mayou36 Then they are a different kind of reparations agreed upon by other means. They can be voluntarily paid be a former colonial power to get rid of any future claims (sometimes as cheap as possible) or to wash to the dirty hands and get rid of some guilt felt by current generations in the West. There were also compensations to former forced-laborers for the German companies paid by a fund created by these companies. In either case, it is very hard to imagine such a claim from Poland to current Russia, not the least because of a complete lack of any sense guilt among Russians. Sep 6 at 15:17
  • 1
    @VladimirFГероямслава, this is the problem. Russian leaders have no guilt because they have no soul. Russian methods for violating sovereign states were perfected by Alexander the Great, by sending domestic terror squads to other countries, followed by Russian soldiers arriving as saviors to quell the unrest and "liberate" the country (of its sovereignty). Poland, Czechoslovakia, and many other countries were ripped apart from the inside out by Russian-driven internal unrest. Latest case in point is the Ukraine (now for a 3rd time). Russian reparations are long overdue to Poland. Sep 8 at 4:43
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FWTW, the PiS leader has also suggested Russia should pay, at least back in 2020

Kaczyński, who rarely speaks with foreign media, repeated his government’s demand that Poland deserves war reparations from Germany. But he added that Russia “should also pay” for the damage caused by the Soviet invasion and occupation of World War Two.

Kaczyński admitted, however, that Germany and Russia are “not comparable” and cannot be held to the same standards. “There is a democratically elected government in Berlin, where law and morality apply. This cannot be said of Russia,” he told Bild.

Other PiS MPs have more recently reaffirmed that intention. Apparently Poland has an institute established just for this, so they might have more reports/output in the future. The difference seems to be that for Germany they managed to finish the report (after about 5 years, I understand, and surely at a somewhat convenient time.)

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Poland has demandes 2020 reparations also from Russia as can be read in this russian article.

The translation of the main part of the article:

The Polish Foreign Ministry announced the right to demand war reparations from Russia

MOSCOW, January 31 — RIA Novosti. Polish Deputy Foreign Minister Pavel Jablonski, in an interview with Radio Zet, declared Warsaw's "unconditional" right to reparations from Russia for damage caused during World War II.

According to him, this topic should be raised constantly, since it has no statute of limitations.

The diplomat also said that in the current political situation, any attempts to come to an agreement with Moscow are associated with a number of difficulties.

Earlier, the leader of Poland's ruling Law and Justice party, Jaroslaw Kaczynski, expressed the opinion that Moscow, like Berlin, is obliged to pay compensation to Warsaw for damage in World War II.

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