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Thursday 29 September 2016

Greece demands €279bn from Germany in Nazi war reparations

Mehreen Khan

Published 07/04/2015 | 10:41

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, right, and the Prime Minister of Greece Alexis Tsipras had a 'tense encounter' (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)
German Chancellor Angela Merkel, right, and the Prime Minister of Greece Alexis Tsipras had a 'tense encounter' (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)
Yanis Varoufakis is pictures, as the crisis talks between Angela Merkel and Alexis Tsipras, the Greek PM, have taken place at a time of considerable anger in Germany over the Syriza government's aggressive negotiating tactics
German chancellor Angela Merkel welcomes Greek prime minister Alexis Tsipras to Berlin (AP)

Greece has demanded nearly €279bn in reparations from Germany, more than the value of its current bail-out, as the cash-strapped country continues to pursue compensation for crimes carried out by the Third Reich.

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A parliamentary committee established by Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras put an official number on the claim, which includes the cost of a forced Nazi loan made by the Bank of Greece and the return of archaeological treasures.

Greece suffered a brutal occupation at the hands of the Third Reich in 1941, with over 40,000 people starving to death in Athens alone.

Previous Greek calculations for the cost of the country's occupation have stood at around €160bn. The revised figures however amount to nearly 10pc of Germany's GDP.

Mr Tsipras has called the reparations question a "moral and ethical" issue for his country, repeating his demands during a visit to Berlin last month.

Greek ministers have also touted the idea of seizing German assets in the country to compensate the families of victims of Nazi war crimes.

A poll carried for Greek radio found more than 80pc of Greeks agreed with the pursuit of Nazi war debt claims.

The Germany finance ministry moved quickly to reject the fresh claims. Chancellor Angela Merkel has resisted re-opening old wounds, insisting Berlin has honoured its obligations during a compensatory accord signed in 1960.

In a further sign of the hardened attitudes in the debtor country, Greek lawmakers also voted to establish a committee examining the circumstances of its 2010 bail-out by eurozone creditors and the IMF to the tune of €240bn.

"After five years of parliamentary silence on the major issues that caused the bailout catastrophe, today we commence a procedure that will give answers to the questions concerning the Greek people," Mr Tsipras said to parliamentarians on Tuesday.

Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has made reparations payment a key aim of his government

Finance minister Yanis Varoufakis has claimed the economy was unfairly lumbered with the liabilities that it is now struggling to pay off as its coffers run empty.

Mr Varoufakis has claimed Europe dealt with his country's bankruptcy by "loading the largest loan in human history on the weakest of shoulders - the Greek taxpayer."

A poll carried for Greek radio found more than 80pc of Greeks agreed with the pursuit of Nazi war debt claims.

Telegraph.co.uk

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