Ceremonies were held to coincide with the 80th anniversary of the outbreak of the conflict, beginning at 4.30 m in the small town of Wielun, site of one of the first bombings of the war, with Polish President Andrzej Duda and German counterpart Mr Steinmeier both in attendance.
Poland commemorates the outbreak of World War 2 rather than its end because it fell under Soviet domination shortly afterwards.
Mr Steinmeier later said at an event in Warsaw: “As a German guest I walk before you here barefoot.
“I look back in gratitude to the Polish people’s fight for freedom. I bow sorrowfully before the suffering of the victim.
“I ask for forgiveness for Germany’s historical guilt. I profess to our lasting responsibility.”
Frank-Walter Steinmeier in Poland (Image: AFP)
Daniel Kawczynski, Polish-born Tory MP (Image: Sky)
However, Polish-born MP for Shrewsbury and Atcham Daniel Kawczynski responded to Mr Steinmeier’s remarks by saying: “Warm words are not enough.”
Speaking on Nigel Farage’s LBC show yesterday, Mr Kawczynski offered a moving personal story about the heroism of his great-uncle Jan, who was murdered by the Nazis along with his wife and daughter for hiding 80 Jewish citizens on his estate.
Mr Kawczynski told Express.co.uk: “We see the German President coming to Poland asking for forgiveness but it’s no good because they continue to refuse to offer any compensation for the genocide they committed.
“They need to try to atone for that with compensation.”
Mr Kawczynski said his family had engaged a firm of London barristers to pursue a compensation claim in respect of the tragedy which had claimed the lives of his relatives.
He added: “We are having to do it ourselves because the British Government is reluctant when it comes to taking the German Government to court, largely because Germany is such a powerful country within the EU.
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Mr Steinmeier with Polish President Andrzej Duda (Image: GETTY)
“Of course, after Brexit, once we leave the EU we will be a third country and will no longer have to pander to Germany in this way.”
Mr Kawczynski has been vociferous on the subject of wartime compensation, and has criticised the decision to write off any claim in 1990, a decision with coincided with German reunification.
Estimates suggest the damage caused to Britain by the end of World War II was £120billion – which would equal to £3,620billion – or £3.6trillion – today.
US vice president Mike Pence (Image: GETTY)
French PM Edouard Phillipe (Image: GETTY)
With respect to Poland, Mr Kawczynski said any decisions related to compensation had been taken in the 1950s and had been forced upon Warsaw by Soviet leader Josef Stalin, who had also banned the Poles from taking any money from the Marshall Plan to rebuild their country.
Poland was devastated by World War II, losing roughly one-fifth of its population, including most of its three million Jews.
Speaking Warsaw yesterday at a ceremony which was also attended by German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe, US Vice President Mike Pence said: “None fought with more valour, determination, and righteous fury than the Poles.
Germany’s GDP (Image: Daily Express)
Angela Merkel with Polish PM Mateusz Morawiecki (Image: GETTY)
“America and Poland will continue to call on our allies to live up to the promises we have made to one another.”
In Poland, the country’s Law and Justice (PiS) party has repeatedly called for war reparations, and several onlookers yelled “reparations” after Steinmeier spoke.
Speaking at another commemorative event in Gdansk yesterday, Poland’s Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said: “We need to talk about those losses, we need to remember, we need to demand truth and demand compensation.