“What if the Greeks are really entitled to war reparations?” This is the title of an article published today by German newspaper Bild. As it highlighted, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras is willing to finance the social program his government promised from the German World War II reparations. Addressing the Greek Parliament on Sunday, while presenting the government plans, Tsipras characterized the reparations as a “moral responsibility” for Germany.
Already in 1960, the German newspaper explained, Germany had a contact with Greece on “closing” reparations from the country’s 1941-1944 Nazi occupation. According to that agreement, signed by Greek Crown Prince Constantine and German diplomat Albert-Hilger van Scherpenberg, Germany was agreed to pay 115 million German marks to Greece, although, a forced loan of 476 million reichmarks to the Nazi regime signed in 1942 has never been repaid to Athens, while according to a recent Greek official report, its current height is 11 billion euros.
Signed by Albert-Hilger van Scherpenberg (Secretary of State, Ministry of Foreign Affairs) and Crown Prince Constantine: According to the 1960 reparation agreement, all claims were “finally settled.”
At the same time, Germany’s Federal government strongly denies to recognize that war reparations must be paid to Greece. The restitution issue has been “finally settled” by the 1960 Treaty, a number of Berlin officials have repeatedly declared, adding that 70 years after the World War II “the reparations are no longer justified.” As Greek Reporter published yesterday, German Vice Chancellor, Economy Minister and leader of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) Sigmar Gabriel yet again ruled out the possibility of Berlin accepting Athens’ claims regarding the World War II reparations, following a renewed demand from Greece’s new leftist Prime Minister, saying that such claims stand “zero” chances.
Tsipras, in his first major speech before the Greek MPs’ in Parliament, described the country’s new program to exit austerity, while eliminating the possibility of any extension of its 240-billion-euro bailout package and vowed to seek war reparations from Germany. The demand for compensation, which rose for the first time in 2013 by the previous government, was firmly rejected by Gabriel who said that “the possibility is zero,” adding that a treaty signed in 1990 has once and for all wrapped up all similar claims. He referred to the “Treaty on the Final Settlement with Respect to Germany,” also known as the “Two plus Four Treaty,” which was signed 25 years ago, in September 1990, by former West Germany, former East Germany and the four World War II allies just before the German reunification.
According to the Treaty, the four powers that occupied Germany at the end of World War II (USSR, USA, United Kingdom and France) renounced all rights they held in Germany, allowing a united Germany to become fully sovereign the following year. No reference to war reparations was made in the Treaty and it was recognized as a legal commitment within the framework of the Paris Charter, also adopted by Greece.