We need your help now

Support from readers like you keeps The Journal open.

You are visiting us because we have something you value. Independent, unbiased news that tells the truth. Advertising revenue goes some way to support our mission, but this year it has not been enough.

If you've seen value in our reporting, please contribute what you can, so we can continue to produce accurate and meaningful journalism. For everyone who needs it.

cash or cheque?

Greece has a figure for how much Germany owes in Nazi-era war debts

And the bill is big – really big.

GERMANY OWES GREECE more than €278 billion in war payments, including some €10 billion for a forced loan taken by Nazi occupation forces, a junior minister has told parliament.

“According to our calculations, the debt linked to German reparations is €278.7 billion, including €10.3 billion for the so-called ‘forced loan’,” junior finance minister Dimitris Mardas told the chamber.

Mardas added that the relevant data had been compiled by Greece’s state general accounting office.

Greece’s new radical government that came to power in January says German war reparations are a “moral issue” that must still be resolved.

Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras told German Chancellor Angela Merkel as much during a visit to Berlin last month.

Tsipras’ justice minister said last month that he was prepared to activate a 15-year-old Greek Supreme Court ruling that authorised the seizure of German assets in Greece to pay for wartime atrocities.

However, many experts say the dispute has effectively reached a judicial stalemate after a related adjudication between Germany and Italy by the International Court of Justice in 2012.

At the time, the United Nations’ highest court ruled that Italy had broken international law by allowing its courts to hear civil compensation claims against Germany.

Germany Europe Greece Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and German Chancellor Angela Merkel AP Photo / Michael Sohn AP Photo / Michael Sohn / Michael Sohn

Debts already settled

Berlin argues that the issue of reparations to Greece has already been settled, and points to payments made in 1960 as part of an agreement with several European governments.

And Berlin maintains that a treaty signed by the two former Germanys with the Allies in 1990 to formally end World War II effectively drew a line under possible future claims for war reparations.

Merkel in March said she saw the issue of reparations as “politically and legally resolved” but said Germans were aware “of the atrocities we committed” and took their responsibility for the crimes of the Nazis “very, very seriously”.

Greece’s national debt currently stands at over €300 billion – or about 177% of the country’s annual GDP.

- © AFP, 2015- additional reporting Peter Bodkin

READ: ‘We will pay’: Greece agrees to IMF loan repayment >

READ: Greece has been secretly putting together a plan to bring back the drachma >

Your Voice
Readers Comments
    Submit a report
    Please help us understand how this comment violates our community guidelines.
    Thank you for the feedback
    Your feedback has been sent to our team for review.