Greece has asked Germany to pay reparations for the losses the Nazi war machine inflicted on the South European nation during World War II, pledging to exhaust diplomatic and, if necessary, legal means in pursuit of its demands.
“We will pursue this to the end, first by diplomatic channels and if needed by legal channels,” said Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras Tuesday during a ceremony held in memory of the 317 victims of the Kommeno village massacre, which occurred 73 years ago in northwest Greece.
Early in the morning of August 16, 1943, the Wehrmacht (German army) swarmed Kommeno and executed 119 women, 97 babies and 101 men before setting the whole village on fire. The Nazi troops committed a similar massacre in the Distomo village, in central Greece, on June 10, 1944, killing a total of 214 men, women and children.
In early December 1944, the Nazi soldiers also attacked Kalavryta town in southern Greece and massacred at least 700 people in the town and in scorers of neighboring villages in reprisal for Greek partisan attacks.
“Greece and the Greek people neither forget their history nor the Nazi war crimes and massacres,” Tsipras further said.
The Tsipras government has calculated the war reparations total €278.7 billion at today’s rates, more than the country’s debt of €240 billion to the European Union.
It is, however, not the first time that the Greek premier demands such reparation from Germany. Back in April last year, Tsipras called for the same amount, calculated by a parliamentary committee and the Greek Supreme Court.
Athens says the reparation amount includes a €10.3-billion occupation loan that the Nazis forced Greece’s Central Bank to pay during the war.
However, Germany strongly dismisses Athens’ claims, saying it has already indemnified Greece in 1960 with a payment of 115 million Deutschmarks.
Although the sum was a fraction of the Greek demand at the time, Athens accepted the reparation with the agreement there would be no more claims, Berlin adds.
Berlin also says the issue of compensation was ultimately legally and politically settled in 1990 before Germany reunified, wondering why Greece did not negotiate when it entered the Eurozone.
Germany’s Minister for Economic Affairs and Energy, Gabriel Sigmar, has also described Athens’ claims as “stupid.”
Tsipras, however, argues that the 1960 payment barely covered compensation for the victims of Nazi atrocities, not the structural damage caused by the Wehrmacht in Greece from 1941 to 1944.
Athens has also threatened that it might seize Germany’s properties in Greece if Berlin fails to meet its demands.
In March Last year, the Greek lawmakers unanimously approved the formation of a cross-party commission to call for war reparation, reclaim the extorted loan and alleged stolen Greek artworks.
The commission is due to make public a newly-prepared report on the compensation payments early next month.