Greece, Germany, Hitler and a Dutch comedian

This 10 October 2014 video from Greece, with English subtitles, is called Manolis Glezos [anti-Hitler fighter during World War II] about the reparations that Germany owes Greece.

From Reuters news agency today:

Germany should look at paying Greece war reparations, say some Berlin lawmakers

Several senior Social Democrats (SPD) and Greens have for the first time said Germany should consider paying reparations to Greece for Nazi crimes committed during World War Two, breaking ranks with Angela Merkel‘s government which has ruled this out.

The Left Party in Germany had already said the German government should pay World War II occupation reparations.

BERLIN: Several senior Social Democrats (SPD) and Greens have for the first time said Germany should consider paying reparations to Greece for Nazi crimes committed during World War Two, breaking ranks with Angela Merkel’s government which has ruled this out.

Relations between Germany and Greece are deteriorating by the day as Athens tries to renegotiate its bailout terms and Berlin fears it will ditch previously agreed financial promises.

Leftist Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, due to meet Merkel in Berlin on Monday, has accused Germany of using tricks to avoid reparations. One of his ministers raised the prospect of seizing German property to compensate victims of a Nazi massacre.

While Berlin says it has honoured its obligations, including a 115-million-deutschemark payment to Greece in 1960, some mainstream politicians have contradicted the government and say it is impossible to draw a line under the highly-charged issue.

In 1960, famous Dutch comedian Wim Kan spoke about the small amount of German reparations also paid then to other Hitler-occupied countries like the Netherlands. Mr Kan himself during World War II was imprisoned in camps of Hitler’s then Japanese allies. Wim Kan spoke: ‘The German government said: “The suffering [of the nazi occupation] cannot be expressed in money”. So, they have not done so’.

“We should make a financial approach to victims and their families,” said Gesine Schwan, a respected member of the Social Democrats (SPD) who share power with Merkel’s conservatives.

“It would be good for us Germans to sweep up after ourselves in terms of our history,” she told Spiegel Online. “Victims and descendants have longer memories than perpetrators and descendents,” said Schwan, twice nominated as a candidate for German president.

Germany, keen to avoid setting a precedent by reopening the issue, argues that the 1990 “Two Plus Four Treaty” signed by then-East Germany and West Germany and the four World War Two allies before German reunification drew a line under future claims.

Resentment runs deep. Nazi forces destroyed scores of Greek villages and killed more than 20,000 civilians between 1941 and 1944. In a chat show on ARD television on Sunday, Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis said it was about morals, not money.

“Personally I would be happy if one euro is paid. As long as there was a recognition that this moral debt has been settled,” he said, adding that he was speaking as an individual.

A further question hangs over an “occupation loan” forced on the Bank of Greece which some experts put at 11 billion euros.

Schwan said the occupation loan must “of course be repaid”.

SPD deputy chairman Ralf Stegner, representing the party’s left, said reparations should not be linked to the euro crisis.

“But independently, we must have a discussion about reparations,” Ralf Stegner told Spiegel Online. “After decades, there are still international legal questions to be resolved.”

Greens co-leader Anton Hofreiter said the issue could not be brushed off as it was “neither morally nor legally closed”.

(Additional reporting by Andreas Rinke; Reporting by Madeline Chambers; Editing by Mark Heinrich)

See also here.

11 thoughts on “Greece, Germany, Hitler and a Dutch comedian

  1. Pingback: Greece, Germany, Hitler and a Dutch comedian | The Socialist

  2. The claim of the Greek repatriations owing from WW2, considering Greece having a small population in 1940, and hundreds of thousands of Greeks lost their lives as a result of German occupation, the fact that money is not a issue of lost lives is all very well, Greece having a rural economy as opposed to Germany having industrializing is disproportionate in terms of wealth accrued by these two differing economies, although money is difficult to relate to damaged life and money, Germany taking in to account they were the aggressors, I have no problem with Germany going to war with British interests as a result of British being a extremely aggressive and oppressive empire that frequently was directed to those whom were less able to defend themselves, is a in this situation a result of karma, in this case the elite of Britain having a predisposition to violence that is unnecessarily violent, I suggest Germany should write off any owed debt taking in to account that Greece had little wealth from British imperialism and in that sense were innocent.


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  9. On July 22, 1943, a major political strike broke out in Athens against Nazi occupation forces, Over 100,000 protesters took part in the action organized by the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) and National Liberation Front (EAM). The strike in Athens was brutally suppressed, with German, Italian and Greek collaborationist forces killing at least 22 workers.

    The strike was one in a series of escalating acts of resistance to the Axis occupation. In February and March of 1943, a wave of rolling strikes had been successful in temporarily halting German plans to send Greek workers to forced-labor for the Reich. A senior Italian envoy, General Giuseppe Pieche, noted at the time in a report to Rome: “The Greek situation is continuously worsening. Enemy propaganda … is developing with great intensity, assuming a tone of extreme violence and making itself available in all possible ways.”

    Since the Axis conquest in 1941, Greece had been subject to a reign of terror and plunder. The Germans and the Italians had requisitioned raw materials and foodstuffs as well as anything of value. Such policies would provoke a major famine in the country, killing an estimated 300,000 to 500,000 Greeks throughout the period of occupation. Bulgarian authorities, working with the Nazis, would subject occupied Eastern Macedonia and Western Thrace to a program of “Bulgarization,” expelling hundreds of thousands of Greeks.

    The KKE rapidly grew into a mass movement commanding the allegiance of broad layers of the working class and peasantry.


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