Debt of the past: Greek study supports claims of forced loans during Nazi occupation

Written by André Ken Jakobsson, Ph.D.Candidate at Center for War Studies

The newly elected Greek government with leftwing prime  minister Alexis Tsipras in front has been shaking up the European landscape of how to do politics lately. A looming "Grexit" from the Euro is adding to the pressure of solving the Greek debt crisis and everyone is looking to Berlin and Merkel for solutions. Also Tsipras, who is believed to have been the first foreign head of state to demand war reparations in the capital of unified Germany.

German chancellor Merkel has firmly shut down the issue, saying that reparations are politically and legally closed. However, Tsipras' election platform was based on ending the austerity policies of "Merkelism" - demands of thoroughgoing reforms in exchange for bailouts. Tsipras has also asked for debt forgiveness but to no avail as the Eurozone in January reiterated that all debts must be honored.

Now the German Journal Spiegel reports that a Greek study by the Greek Finance Ministry initiated back in 2012 confirms that the Nazi occupiers forced loans from the Greek state. And Tsipras wants them back since they amount to around 11 billion euro. And even though the issue of war reparations is supposedly closed for the German government, the study finds that these loans and thereby the German debt does not fit into the category of classical war reparations - they are simply loans the need to be paid back. And it is no new issue either seeing as the Greek government made these claims as early as 1966:

"As such, at issue between Germany and Greece is no longer just the question as to whether the 115 million deutsche marks paid to the Greek government from 1961 onwards for its peoples' suffering during the occupation sufficed as legal compensation for the massacres like those in the villages of Distomo and Kalavrita. Now the key issue is whether the successor to the German Reich, the Federal Republic of Germany, is responsible for paying back loans extorted by the Nazi occupiers. There's some evidence to indicate that this may be the case."

The full story adds to the complexity of handling the Greek debt and can be read here.

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