As Greece gets closer and closer to dropping out of the Eurozone due to an inability to restructure its bailout agreement with the European Union and the various European governments, the left-wing Syriza government has demanded 279 million euros from Germany as reparations for the Nazi occupation of Greece during World War 2. With an outstanding debt of over 320 billion euros, this sum would go very far towards giving the Greeks government and people some relief from the harsh austerity measures that have been put in place so that bailout money keeps flowing into the country. The Syriza party was elected on the promise that it would overturn these harsh measures and so far it has been unable to do so, leading some to see this as a last-minute gambit.
That being said, the Greeks do have a strong argument for reparations due to the Nazi regime. It all began in 1941 and lasted 4 years as allied Axis troops from Germany and Italy moved into the country. During those 4 years, over 250,000 Greeks died. Many of those deaths were due to torture and executions and around 40,000 people starved to death in Athens alone. Along with the deaths of so many people, the Nazis also removed centuries of valuable artifacts from Greek museums and buildings as well as forcing Greek banks to loan them billions of today’s money; money that Germany has never paid back to this day.
The demand for reparations has already been noticed by the German government as being both close to the total amount of debt Greece owes as well as coming at a time when the Greek government is struggling to make any sort of headway in diplomatic talks about changing the terms of the outline deal. Both the German Vice Chancellor and Finance Minister have said that there will be no reparations coming from Germany to Greece and it seems as though it might stay like that. There is a history of successive Greek governments trying to get reparations from the Germans due to Nazi actions for years and they have never met any sort of success. The country has already set up a new panel to write a proposal for their demands and there has been talk of seizing German assets within Greece. Over 80% of Greeks think that they’re owed reparations and the fact that the German’s haven’t even returned much of the art and artifacts that were stolen means that there is strength to their claim.
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