Greece to Seek Nazi Damages from Germany
Recent articles in Bloomberg’s and the West Australian reveal that Greece has set up a “working group” to study historical archives and to determine how much Germany might owe in outstanding reparations for Nazi war crimes during World War II. Greece reserves the right to claim reparations worth an estimated $US7.5 million ($A7.3 million), according to Deputy Finance Minister Christos Staikouras, because it was “forced” to accept unfavorable terms during negotiations in the 1950s. According to Bloomberg’s, Germany paid 115 million deutsche marks ($74 million) to Greek victims of Nazi crimes under a 1960 treaty, in addition to funds paid out to victims of forced labor under the Third Reich. Apparently this doesn’t include loans Greece was forced to make to Germany during the Nazi occupation. The four-member working group is expected to submit its report by the end of the year,
Many in Greece blame Germany, the biggest single donor to Greece’s bailout packages, for the tough austerity measures currently being enforced as it struggles to pay off its mammoth debt. France and other EU countries have argued that the severity of current austerity measures are stifling the economic growth needed to repay the debt – as well as causing immense human suffering (e.g. homelessness, starvation, preventable deaths and suicide). However Chancellor Angela Merkel has remained staunch that Greece needs to lay off even more public workers and further cut pensions and other social services.
Germanys hard line on austerity cuts have led to substantial anti-German sentiment in Greece, and several candidates included a demand for war reparations in their campaign platforms during the June elections.
Prior to the debt crisis, relations between Germany and Greece were relatively good. Germans enjoyed traveling to Greece for vacation and extolled the same relaxed lifestyle they now so often deride. In the 1950s and ’60s, Greeks were among the earliest guest workers to take advantage of Germany’s booming export economy.
According to the New York Times, the atmosphere has been further poisoned by anti-Greek sentiment in the German news media, including an infamous suggestion that Greece sell the Acropolis and its islands to pay its debts.