Merkel says Germany ‘takes total responsibility for Nazi crimes in Greece’ as Athens uses her visit to tell her the country wants billions in damages
- Tensions linger over wartime damages for Nazi occupation of Greece in WW2
- Merkel, on a visit to Athens, said Germany is ‘aware of historical responsibility’
- Greece has told her it had grounds to pursue a legal claim for billions of euros in damages for the Nazi occupation
Angela Merkel has said Germany ‘takes total responsibility for crimes committed’ by the Nazis in Greece.
The 64-year-old chancellor, who is in Athens for a two-day visit, said Germany was ‘aware of our historical responsibility’ and ‘how much suffering’ it had caused Greece during the Second World War.
Her comments came as Greece told her it had grounds to pursue a legal claim for billions of euros in damages for the Nazi occupation.
Tensions linger over wartime reparations with Berlin arguing the issue was settled in 1960 in a deal with several European governments.
But the Greek president Prokopis Pavlopoulos raised the issue anew with Merkel, during her visit today.
Angela Merkel (left, today) has said Germany ‘takes total responsibility for crimes committed’ by the Nazis in Greece. Her comments came as Greek president Prokopis Pavlopoulos (right) told her it had grounds to pursue a legal claim for billions of euros in damages for the Nazi occupation
‘As Greeks, we consider these demands legally active and (can be) judicially pursued and should be solved in the competent European forum, judicial forum,’ Pavlopoulos told Merkel during a short meeting.
‘This community needs to be able to defend itself’:…
‘There will be two civilisations in Europe – one Christian,…
German police say CCTV contradicts AfD version of how their…
Share this article
World War Two reparations resurfaced as an emotional issue during Greece’s 2010-18 period of bailouts when austerity-hit Greeks, evoking past injustices, blamed their biggest creditor Germany for painful cuts associated with three international bailouts.
Germany has apologised for Nazi-era crimes during the war but has said it is not willing to discuss reparations. It has denied owing anything to Greece for World War Two since it paid Athens 115 million deutschmarks in 1960.
The 64-year-old chancellor (pictured today), who is in Athens for a two-day visit, said Germany was ‘aware of our historical responsibility’ and ‘how much suffering’ it had caused Greece during the Second World War
‘We are aware of our historical responsibility, we know how much suffering Germany caused Greece during the era of National Socialism so the lesson for us is to do everything we can to ensure good relations with Greece and to support each other for the benefit of both countries,’ Merkel said.
Hitler’s forces occupied Greece in 1941-1944 and extracted a so-called ‘occupation loan’ used to help finance its campaign in North Africa. Runaway inflation followed, and tens of thousands of people starved to death.
Greece was forced to hand over 476 million reichmarks, which Greek officials have estimated at 6-10 billion euros.
What happened to Greece during the Second World War?
Every year on October 28, Greeks celebrate Ohi Day.
It marks the anniversary of Mussolini’s 1940 ultimatum demanding Axis forces be allowed to occupy ‘strategic locations’ in the country or face war.
Greece’s prime minister Ioannis Metaxas is said to have answered with a single Greek word: ohi, meaning ‘no’.
Within hours Italian troops stationed in Albania, then an Italian protectorate, attacked the Greek border. But the invaders were pushed back deep into Albania, forcing Germany to intervene on its fascist ally’s behalf on April 6, 1941.
A Nazi flag hangs from a building in Athens after it was requisitioned by the Wehrmacht in May 1941
Helped also by neighbouring Bulgaria, the Nazis overwhelmed Greek, British and Commonwealth forces in a rapid Blitzkrieg operation.
The occupation was divided between Germany, Italy, and Bulgaria, with a collaborationist government installed by the invaders.
The period brought about terrible hardships for the civilian population.
More than 300,000 died from starvation, thousands more through reprisals, and the country’s economy was ruined.
As well as raw materials and foodstuffs being requisitioned, the collaborationist government was forced to pay the cost of the occupation and grant a ‘war loan’ to the German Reich.
At the same time the Greek Resistance launched guerrilla attacks against the occupying powers and set up large espionage networks.
Helped also by neighbouring Bulgaria, the Nazis overwhelmed Greek, British and Commonwealth forces in a rapid Blitzkrieg operation
They helped successful raids by Allied special forces.
Classic films such as The Guns of Navarone, Escape To Athena and They Who Dare dramatise wartime events. The Greek islands are a particular focus of movies.
The more recent Captain Corelli’s Mandolin documents the Italian occupation of Kefalonia.
By late 1944 German forces began withdrawing from the Greek mainland as Soviet forces advanced into south-eastern Europe and threatened to cut them off.
When liberation came in October 1944, Greece was in a state of crisis, which soon led to the outbreak of civil war between rival partisans.
Source: Read Full Article