Greece Seeks German Reparations
Greece, Europe’s centre of culture, democracy and debt, recently launched a diplomatic campaign demanding 300 billion euros from Germany. No, this is not yet another loan. The sum is meant to serve as reparations for war crimes committed by the Nazis.
Greek prime minister, Alexis Tsipras, feels the reparations are necessary because “to build a better future we need to close the open cases of the past”. What better way to do that than to open a case that was closed by the Greek government in 1960 when they accepted 115 million from the Germans in reparations. It appears it only takes a global financial crisis and a few cartoons of Merkel dressed as an SS officer to reopen the issue.
But surely no sum of money could weigh up, or compensate for the atrocities committed by the Nazis. Should we instead not focus on the fact that Europe has been peaceful since and a range of international institutions have been erected to prevent any such thing from happening again? It turns out, Tsipras agrees; “we could never put the absolute evil of Nazism… on a scale” and “No slaughter, no monstrosity, not even one drop of blood could be balanced against any bailout”. Any bailout, but a sum over 300 billion and we’ll talk.
Some have claimed this could have something to do with the financial mess the Greeks are in at the moment. Turns out, three hundred billion euros is a rather neat number as the Greek national debt currently stands at 350 billion. This would leave only 50 billion to worry about getting from somewhere else. Ask the Ottoman Empire? Let’s also not forget that a large part of this money would go straight back to Germany anyway, making this the most economically sound decision by Greece in years.
But, Greece is not alone in this. A Polish MP recently suggested Poland should follow in Greece’s steps, and also demand Germany to pay for the Nazi occupation during WW2. But why ask the Germans now, of all times?
This could have something to do with the upcoming elections. Three in fact. Polish and Greek national elections in the autumn and shortly before that the European elections. So what better time to gather together to remind ourselves why Germans are horrible.
But what do the Germans have to say about all this, and where do we fill in the form to get some money to pay for an issue that definitely cannot be compensation for with money? The Germans are not amused; “The question of German reparation has been conclusively settled, both legally and politically” says the German government. Tough luck.
So it doesn’t look like this is going through. Besides, let us not forget what happened the last time a group of countries came together to reprimand Germans for a war.