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Hypocritical Germany Owes $303 Billion to Greece While Demanding Greeks Fund Fraudulent Banksters

April 7, 2015 10:58 a.m. ET
46 COMMENTS
ATHENS—Greece’s government publicly quantified its long-standing claim for World War II-related compensation from Germany, continuing to press claims that Berlin says have long since been settled.

Deputy Finance Minister Dimitris Mardas said in parliament Monday that Germany owes Athens €278.7 billion ($303.1 billion), according to calculations by Greece’s General Accounting Office.

The Greek government has set up a parliamentary panel, which started work last week, to press for war reparations as well as the repayment of a forced loan that Nazi Germany made the Bank of Greece extend to the wartime German occupiers.

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ENLARGE
Mr. Mardas said the forced loan is now worth €10.3 billion, including accumulated interest. The rest of the Greek claim relates to wartime atrocities against the Greek population and damage to property and infrastructure.

The estimate was commissioned from the General Accounting Office by the previous Greek government and delivered late last year. Mr. Mardas’s comments in parliament are the first time the estimate has been publicly revealed.

Greek politicians have said in the past that Germany owes the country more than €160 billion in reparations, but claims have never been quantified officially.

The issue has come to the fore since the start of Greece’s debt crisis, but Greece’s new left-led government, which took office in late January, has redoubled the reparations claims.

The left-wing Syriza party has tapped into a deep-seated feeling of injustice in Greek society toward Germany, which is seen here as the source of the harsh austerity imposed on Greece since its international bailout in 2010.

But the renewed wartime claims have angered Berlin, which sees them as an unwelcome distraction from the more urgent tasks of fixing Greece’s economy and public finances.

ENLARGE
Tension has been rising over the Greek government’s resistance to implementing the tough economic measures Germany and other eurozone countries insist are necessary to unlock further financial aid.

Germany reiterated its rejection of the claim Tuesday, with Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel calling it “dumb.” He said the emotionally loaded issue was getting mixed up with Greece’s bailout program, and that raising such claims wasn’t the right way to make progress on Greece’s precarious finances.

Germany signed agreements with 12 countries about compensation for Third Reich crimes in the late 1950s and early 1960s. The agreement awarding 115 million deutsche marks to Greece was signed in 1960.

Greek Justice Minister Nikos Paraskevopoulos last month, while addressing parliament, even suggested that Athens could seize German assets in Greece, a threat Germany dismissed as groundless.

Write to Nektaria Stamouli at nektaria.stamouli@wsj.com
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There are 46 comments.
Newest
OldestReader RecommendedWilliam SofisWilliam Sofis Apr 9, 2015
The number of shallow, bigoted generalization on here is appalling. I could make a comment like “everyone that posts on here” is bigoted, but that would be doing the exact same thing as those who say “everyone in Greece is lazy.” The fact is that most citizens in any country have very little control over the broader economy. It’s easy to say that every Greek should just work harder, but how does that translate in the real world? The Greek running a small business can solicit more clients, but if those potential clients afraid to invest or purchase services, his extra work bears little fruit. What about the 1/4 Greeks that’s unemployed? US and UK economics suggests that austerity has taken a massive toll on the Greek economy, and most Greeks are understandably very frustrated. Whether they should waste their time re-counting war reparations is another story…

Grant KempGrant Kemp Apr 8, 2015
How can Greece want more money for WWII after the reparations were settled by mutual agreement over 50 years ago? Isn’t this just another case of victors’ double jeopardy with an overly harsh new treaty? Kind of like the Versailles Treaty which stipulated unlimited indemnity from the defeated German Empire? Perhaps it is a good thing that the hated Versailles Treaty was never replaced after having been chucked out by the Nazis back in the 30s.

Mario SegalMario Segal Apr 8, 2015
This indeed looks to me like a ‘gambit’ to avoid reforming – especially since Greece seems to be running out of time. In addition Germany agreed with Greece and paid reparations in the past – I do not know if that was enough or a fair agreement, but I assume it was entered willingly by both sides

I looked a bit an this and it is amazing how little reparations Germany and Japan paid – basically the allies took equipment and machinery in lieu. – maybe that was the right idea, they are peaceful, hard working rich countries now

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