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Poland totals WWII occupation's cost amid Germany claim talk

In this April 6, 2018 file photo, Jaroslaw Kaczynski, leader of Poland's ruling Law and Justice party, speaks during the inauguration of a memorial for the Smolensk plane crash, in Budapest, Hungary. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)

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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