Around 1,000 Greek villages were destroyed, thousands of Greeks died of starvation,and tens of thousands were killed by German forces.
On April 17th, the Greek parliament voted in favor of a campaign to pressure Germany into paying billions of euros for damages caused by the German occupation of Greece during World War II. For their part, German authorities say the matter was already resolved years ago.
A parliamentary commission in 2016 determined that Germany caused over 300 billion euros’ worth of damages in Greece. The proposal voted on in parliament did not name a figure that Germany must meet to satisfy the Greek authorities. The proposal received backing from both the ruling coalition and opposition members.
The vote is the first official decision by the Greek parliament about WWII reparations from Germany. It is likely to further strain relations between the two countries. Many in Greece blame Germany for recent austerity measures that were imposed by the European Union in return for bailout loans to help Greece in their financial crisis.
The proposal calls on the government to take “every appropriate legal and diplomatic action” to pressure Germany into satisfying the demands of the Greek government. It was submitted for voting by parliamentary speaker Nikos Voutsis after a twelve-hour debate.
Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras called the claim for reparations Greece’s “historic and moral duty.” He said that Greece needed to “close the open cases of the past” in order to move forward to a better future and he called on Germany to do the same. He added that the Greek government would approach the German government diplomatically about the issue.
In 1960, the West German government paid Greece 115 million Deutschmarks for wartime suffering. Germany has apologized for Nazi-era crimes but has not been willing to discuss further reparations.
A spokesman for the German government, Steffen Seibert, said that the question of reparations had been settled. He stated that Germany is “aware of our historic responsibility.”
Just within the last year, Greece finished ten years of austerity which the EU imposed on them when granting bailouts during the financial crisis that began in 2010.
Tsipras said that the Greek government did not want the two issues connected. This has been a criticism raised due to the delayed reaction to the 2016 report.
Germany invaded Greece in May of 1941. Around 1,000 Greek villages were destroyed, thousands of Greeks died of starvation,and tens of thousands were killed by German forces who were trying to stop Greek resistance fighters.
The 2016 commission report placed the cost of that occupation at a minimum of 269 billion euros. When combined with money that Nazi leadership forced the Bank of Greece to give them in 1942 in order to pay for the Germans’ campaign in Africa, the amount rises to over 300 billion euros.
The vote comes before national elections in October. Kyriakos Mitsotakis has stated that any government led by him in the future would comply with the proposal and seek the repayment of the occupation loan.
The bailouts and emergency loans provided to Greece in 2010 amounted to 289 billion euros. The money was provided amid concerns that Greece’s unemployment situation would crash the eurozone. The Greek economy has shown signs of improvement since the crash.