HUH? Cash-strapped Greece says its pursuing claim against Germany for Nazi occupation
Germany says it has repaid all the reparations that have been owed
In a move that has perplexed many, nearly bankrupt Greece says it is planning to pursue a long-dormant claim for reparations from Germany over Nazi occupation during World War II. Greek Foreign Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos told parliament that the government was willing to "exhaust every means available" in its claim.
The Nazi occupation brought about terrible hardships for the Greek civilian population. Over 300,000 civilians died in Athens alone from starvation, tens of thousands more died because of reprisals by Nazis and collaborators, and the country's economy was ruined.
Furthermore, Germany says it has already paid all reparations owed. In response, Avramopoulos said that the Greek Finance Ministry has compiled a report after studying documents spanning more than six decades.
The brief will be submitted to Greece's legal advisers and then Athens will decide how to officially press its claim, he said.
Avramopoulos did not say how much would be sought. "We will exhaust every means available to arrive to a result," he told lawmakers. "One can't compare the times, but also not erase the memories."
The issue came to light last year. Greece has strained mightily under harsh austerity measures imposed on it by its creditors - Germany primarily, as a condition for its international EU/IMF bailout.
Avramopoulos says it was wrong to link the issue to the debt crisis. "This has been an open issue for 60 years, it is too large an issue to fit into the confines of the fiscal crisis," he added.
Greece's coalition government to date has earned praise from Chancellor Angela Merkel for starting to fix Greece's finances.
Conservative Prime Minister Antonis Samaras was pushed to raise the reparation issue by the main opposition, anti-bailout Syriza party.
The occupation of Greece by the Axis Powers began in April 1941 after Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany invaded Greece, and lasted until Germany and her satellite Bulgaria withdrew from mainland Greece in October 1944. German garrisons remained in control of Crete and other Aegean islands until after the end of World War II, surrendering to the Allies in May and June 1945.
The occupation brought about terrible hardships for the Greek civilian population. Over 300,000 civilians died in Athens alone from starvation, tens of thousands more died because of reprisals by Nazis and collaborators, and the country's economy was ruined.
© 2013, Distributed by NEWS CONSORTIUM.
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