German President asks Poland for forgiveness 80 years after the start of WWII

Published: Sep. 2, 2019 at 3:55 AM EDT
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Nearly 6 million Poles died during World War II, which remains the bloodiest conflict in history. More than 50 million people were killed in the conflict overall, including some 6 million Jews, half of whom were Polish.

Germany's President Frank-Walter Steinmeier has asked for Poland's forgiveness 80 years after the start of World War II.

War reparations remain a contentious issue in Poland -- since coming to power in 2015, the Law and Justice (PiS) party have revived calls for compensation. Germany made the last payment on reparations in 2010.

"I stand before you, those who have survived, before the descendants of the victims, the old and the young residents of Wielun, I am humbled and grateful," Steinmeier said during a ceremony in the Polish city of Wielun, the site of one of the first Nazi bombings in the country on September 1, 1939.

"I bow to the victims of the attack in Wielun, I pay tribute to the Polish victims of German tyranny and I ask for forgiveness," he said.

US Vice President Mike Pence spoke in Warsaw on Sunday at the commemoration ceremony to mark the 80th anniversary of Germany's invasion of Poland.

"In the years that followed this day 80 years ago, their light shone in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it," Pence said.