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Greece insists on compensation from Germany

The survivor of the 2011 massacre in Dystomos has been holding a candle and a newspaper clipping since 1948, in which he and his sister stand in front of the graves of their murdered three parents.
Image: Orestes Panagioto / DPA

It is undeniable that the Germans committed massacres in Greece during World War II – contrary to the question of whether the Central Republic was still obliged to provide financial compensation. Athens reaffirms its position.

8Nine years after the German invasion of Greece in World War II, the government in Athens has reiterated its demand for negotiations to compensate for war damage. Shortly before the anniversary on Tuesday, the foreign ministry said the issue of compensation was still open from a Greek perspective. “The question will remain open until our demands are met. These demands are valid and active and are being asserted in any way,” said Alexandros Genimatas, a spokesman for the Ministry of German Press. “Negotiations will make a very positive contribution to the further development of Greco-German relations.”

Greece asked Germany in June 2019 – under then-Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras – to negotiate compensation. In October, the German side rejected the request. The government of today’s Conservative Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis has reaffirmed that the question of repayment in a January 2020 diplomatic note is open to them.

Attacked exactly 80 years ago

On April 6, 1941, Germany invaded Greece and Yugoslavia. Until 1944, the SS and Vermast carried out numerous massacres in Greece. In retaliation they called for partisan attacks. Tens of thousands of Greek civilians were killed in the war.

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A Greek parliamentary commission has estimated the amount of war damage in Germany to be at least 289 billion euros – including a compulsory loan from the Greek Deutsche Bank during the war.

For the central government in Berlin, on the other hand, the issue of compensation ended legally and politically with the 1990 and the two-plus-four agreement on the foreign policy implications of German unity. Compensation is not explicitly mentioned in the agreement between the Federal Republic, Germany and the GTR and the four former occupying powers, the United States, the Soviet Union, France and Great Britain. In addition, numerous states attacked and occupied by Nazi Germany, such as Greece and Poland, did not engage in negotiations.