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Last Updated: Monday, 27 September, 2004, 17:36 GMT 18:36 UK
Germans and Poles settle WWII row
Polish PM Marek Belka and German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder in Berlin
The reparations row has strained Polish-German ties
Germany and Poland have agreed to set up a joint team of lawyers to thwart any claims for reparations in connection with World War II.

The agreement came during talks in Berlin between German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder and Poland's Prime Minister Marek Belka on Monday.

An association of Germans driven from Poland in 1945 has demanded Polish compensation for their lost property.

But both leaders insisted that the reparations issue was closed.

The lawyers "will work to ensure that individual claims which could be lodged in the courts by Germans are considered null and void," Mr Belka said.

"They belong to the past and the issue is closed," he added.

Poland's parliament earlier this month passed a resolution saying Warsaw had not received adequate compensation for the destruction caused by Germany.

But Mr Belka said such reparation claims were also "unjustified".

Emotive issue

The claims by a small group of Germans for ancestral property, lost when Poland's borders shifted westwards after the war, have caused huge resentment in Poland.

One of the groups - the Prussian Claims Society - has said it will take cases to both Polish and European courts.

That prompted the Polish parliament to pass a toughly-worded, non-binding resolution calling such claims groundless and urging the government to take up the matter with Berlin.

For most Poles, the issue of moral responsibility is clear.

For its size, Poland suffered far more damage and casualties at the hands of the Germans than any other country. Six million Poles - half of them Jews - were killed in the conflict.

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