Greece, Germany bicker over war reparations issue
By ELENA BECATOROS | Associated Press – 19 hrs ago
ATHENS, Greece (AP) — A long-standing debate over whether Germany still owes Greece war reparations stemming from the Nazi occupation erupted anew Thursday in a spat between Greece’s foreign minister and Germany’s finance minister.
German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble was quoted by German media as suggesting that Greece should focus on reforming its economy and that the issue of war reparations was definitively closed years ago.
“I consider such comments irresponsible. Much more important than misleading people with such stories would be to explain and spell out the reform path,” the Neue Osnabruecker Zeitung quoted him as saying in its Thursday edition. “Greece has already accomplished a lot but also still has a longer way ahead of it. One should not divert attention from that.”
In a riposte, Greek Foreign Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos said the reparations issue was one for international law to determine, stressing it was completely unrelated to Greece’s international financial bailout.
The issue of war reparations has been a contentious and legally complicated one for decades. Nazi Germany, which occupied Greece from 1941-44, forced Athens to extend it loans and give up gold reserves. There was also the question of the destruction of infrastructure and compensation claims filed by individuals who survived Nazi atrocities.
In 1960, Germany paid Greece 115 million German marks (about $330 million at today’s value) and soundly rejects any further calls for reparations, insisting that payment definitively settled all claims.
Greece suffered some of the highest casualty figures in WW2 as a % of her population. France lost 1.35% of her population to the war and the UK less than 1% while Greece lost 4.5% of her population.
I think the Cold War and the need to have a unified western front against the USSR had the western powers force Greece to accept such little compensation from Germany for her losses.