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Germany owes Greece €185billion in WWII reparations, say German researchers

Does Germany owe indeed Greeks billions of euros in World War II reparations for the damages and the enforced loan during the occupation of the country by the Nazis? So far, Berlin has vehemently rejected any Greek claims. However, two German researchers dug into the documents of the dispute. have discovered and calculated that the German state owes Greece 185 billion euros. Of this not even a 1% has been paid to Greece.

In their book “Reparation debt. Mortgages of German occupation in Greece and Europe” publishers Karl Heinz Roth, a historian,  and Hartmut Rübner, a researcher, unfold the documents of the dispute and come to the conclusion that the reparations issue was not solved in 1960, as Berlin has been claiming.

According to the book review published in German conservative daily Sueddeutsche Zeitung, Roth and Rübner have researched German documents only and came to the conclusion that:

USA allies and “the power elites of West Germany” have systematically ignored Greece’s demands for WWII reparations.

In SZ article “Athens – Berlin: Open Bill, Open Wounds” it is said among others that:

At the Paris Reparations Conference in 1946, the Greek government presented a damage record of $ 7.2 billion – eventually earning a share of $ 25 million.

The leitmotiv of the book is that an alliance between the US and the “West German power elite” has systematically ignored Greek demands for decades.

Undeniable, however, is the diplomatic arrogance with which the Federal Republic rejected the Greek demands for decades. If you do not believe it, you are welcome to make your own impression in Hartmut Rübner’s carefully edited extensive documentary appendix,” SZ notes.

In the first part of the book, Roth analyzes the decades-long efforts of Athens to receive reparations.  When the Wehrmacht withdrew from Greece in October 1944 after three and a half years of occupation, it literally left behind “scorched land”: the economy, currency and infrastructure were completely destroyed.

The health of the surviving population was catastrophic – by the end of the war about 140,000 people had died as a result of malnutrition. And finally, the Germans had sown the seed for the civil war between communist and monarchist-conservative groups, which became bloody after the liberation.

However, the selection of the documents Roth/Rübner used is almost exclusively limited to German documents, so that no insight can be gained into the interior of Greek diplomacy and its share in the failed reparations policy. For a long time, the Greek government relied on a special relationship with the Federal Republic, which, however, was based on asymmetric power relations.

On this bilateral route, Athens only achieved failures, except for a total compensation of 115 million marks in 1960, based on London Treaty of 1953. However, the compensation came about through a joint action with other West European former war opponents of Germany.

The authors make a special reference to former Chancellor Helmut Kohl who managed to avoid reparation payments when the two German states were reunified in 1990 and the 2+4 Treaty.

Before the reunification, Kohl was claiming that reparation demands were premature. After the reunification, he claimed they were too late.

Roth and Rübner now plea for the recognition of the German “reparations debt” towards Greece.

So far, Greece has tabled two proposals: one referred to 287billion euros, and one, the official one to 162 billion euros.

More on Greece-Germany dispute on WWII reparations here.

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  1. Martin Baldwin-Edwards

    This should make it clear to Greek people that the big problem is with German politicians, and not the German culture or Volk.

  2. René Henri Pasche

    Before you can solve the problem of reparations you must know the facts, totally ignored by the German population and even MPs till today. Casualties in action, civilian deportees. civilians murdered and dispossessed, and damage caused by the occupation. It’s the concrete figures of dead, missing, wounded and disabled persons that count more than abstract terms and simplifications. Who knows today in Germany and elsewhere that the number ot total dead and wounded during the German, Italian and Bulgarian occupation was more than 455.000, among these more than 200.000 deaths from starvation about 20.000 executed and 45000 abducted to Germany and killed. Should follow the statistics of the huge and often total damage of ships, civil aviation TT Network, railway bridges and rolling stock, motor vehicles, roads, forest areas, animals etc. All this has been documented at the end of WW II by the Greek authorities.

  3. @René Henri Pasche well said

    Our country was absolutely decimated. As the article said it was literally”scorched earth

    In past 40+ years what have ND/PASOK/Syriza done, apart from further destroy Hellas and line their own pockets

  4. La France a payé sa dette de guerre scrupuleusement apres le conflict de 1870 …..les gouvernements allemands de la Republique de Weimar et de l actuelle BRD se sont bien arranges pour ne pas de de dommager les nations que leurs citoyen’s , à priori des etres responsable et doues de raison a default d humanite, ont sac cage a l occasion de sejours touristiques en armes et uniforme .Les gouvernements ont leurs priorites mais ils n est pas sur que les peuples des anciennes victimes des nazi et du kaiser nourissent de tendres sentiments envers le peuple de Ghoete

  5. I’ve often wondered though if the US Marshall Plan that both Germany and Greece benefitted from precludes these types of reparations? Over the years, I’ve heard that when the US implemented the Marshall Plan, it was agreed that any countries taking part in this would drop any claim against Germany in lieu of the generous plan by the US authorities at that time. This was to giver Germany a fresh start after ridding the scourge of their WWII government. However, I’ve never known if this was propaganda or true. If any one knows the truth, I would be interested.

  6. Today’s Greeks are incredibly faulty people. Please, don’t give them a penny!

  7. Martin Baldwin-Edwards

    @Hecataeus. I think you have heard propaganda. The 1946 and 1947 treaties between the USA and Greece lay out the formal legal and political framework for the Marshall Plan, implemented by the OEEC after 1948 (which organisation consisted of all European beneficiary countries but excluded West Germany). When the OEEC was converted into the OECD in 1960, and admitted West Germany into the new organisation, this is when there was an agreement forced on Greece to accept some derisory compensation for the horrors of the Nazi Occupation. In other words, nothing to do with the Marshall Plan — but arising from the increasing economic and political power of West Germany.

  8. Hecataeus Miletuss

    @MBE, this is good info. Since then, I’ve also tried reading about the 1953 London Agreement which touches on this a bit too. But, yes, it appears you are absolutely right that it was not the Marshall Plan which dictates this. If you are curious about the London Agreement of 1953, here is a really interesting article which I was reading this morning with my coffee.

  9. René Henri Pasche

    @mbe, yes, increasing economic and political power + a lot of blackmail. Dirty war, dirty peace. Greece was as Norway a “Führerstaat” under German control with or without a Quisling that’s the question. The Greeks that collaborated were useful insruments in the Civil war and in the Cold War that followed. Remember Waldheim and all the other gentlemen that lost their memories.

  10. René Henri Pasche

    P.S.The agency for the well planned economical exploitation of Gteece during the German occupation was the German-Greek Organization for the Balancing of Trade (Deutsch-Griechische Warenausgleichsgesellschaft, DEGRGES) that was directly controlled by the Special Envoy of the German Reich for Economical and Financial affairs in Greece (Sonderbeauftragter des Deutschen Reiches für wirtschaftliche und finanzielle Fragen) the Austrian -German Nazi Officer and ex Maire of Vienna, Herman N e u b a c h e r. His only “merits”: it seems that he intervened in favor of the pro British Greek politicians that should have been killed when the German left . In his opinion these Greek patriots could better be used in the fight against the Communists. This deal saved his life and reputation. He was condemned as a war criminal by Marshall Tito in Jugoslavia but was later pardoned and could return back to Austria where he died as a free man and respected businessman.