Eighty years have passed since Hitler’s Germany attacked Greece. On this historic anniversary, the Greek Foreign Ministry confirmed that the issue of compensation payments remains open from the Greek perspective. “These demands are correct and effective, and they are confirmed by any means,” ministry spokesman Alexandros Papaioannou told Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa. “The negotiations will make a very positive contribution to the further strengthening of Greek-German relations.”
Greece confirms its demands against Germany
In June 2019, Greece – which was at the time under the leadership of left-wing Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras – asked Germany to negotiate compensation. In October 2019, the German side refused this request. A few months later, in January 2020, the government of today’s Conservative Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis also confirmed in a diplomatic note that the compensation issue remains of great importance to them.
Reparations in the two plus four treaty are not an issue
The German federal government sees it differently. For them, with the 1990 Two Plus Four Treaty, which made German unity possible in the first place, the compensation issue was closed both legally and politically. In the treaty between the Federal Republic and the German Democratic Republic and the four former occupying countries, the United States, the Soviet Union, France and Great Britain, which regulate the foreign policy results of the unity of Germany, compensation is also not mentioned.
The Scientific Service in the Bundestag considers that payments are possible
The Bundestag’s scientific service does not see this as clearly as the federal government sees in a report published in 2019 in all respects. At least as far as Greece is concerned, the federal government’s argument is acceptable under international law, but not mandatory in any way – so the report concluded. Unlike Poland, for example, which is also submitting claims, Greece “has never made an explicit concession”. Regarding the federal government’s argument, that the 1990’s two plus four contract should have regulated all compensation cases “categorically and comprehensively,” writes the Scientific Service: Reparations were not actually mentioned in the contract. Even if that was the case, Greece, as a third country not participating in the treaty, had to agree to the resulting defects, according to the report.
The GDR made compensation payments
The GDR made substantial compensation payments to the Soviet Union between 1948 and 1953. At first, this happened primarily through the dismantling of industrial facilities, but also, for example, by dismantling tracks. By 1953, the GDR had lost about 30 percent of its industrial capacity in this way. In the Potsdam Agreement, the victorious powers agreed that compensation to Poland should be derived from the benefits received by the Soviet Union. In 1953, the Polish government informed the German Democratic Republic that it would give up more compensation in the future.
So far, the Federal Republic has paid 71 billion euros for grievances committed by the Nazis – a lump sum for states, but also individual victims.
Poland is also demanding compensation from Germany
For several years now, Poland has been demanding compensation payments from a united Germany. In any case, in September 2017, the Scientific Chamber of the Polish Parliament presented an expert opinion indicating the enormous damage in Poland caused by the war, occupation and terror to which the German Reich was subjected. Six million Polish citizens died between 1939 and 1945. The material losses caused by the German occupation were estimated at 48.8 billion dollars after the war.
To this day, Poland is retreating from official demands
However, the authors did not state the amount of the claim. Polish Foreign Minister Witold Wasszkzkowski had put a trillion euros in the room in September 2017, but he also mentioned the legal situation “ambiguous” and “confusing”. In any case, then Polish Prime Minister Pia Szidloo announced that she wanted to present formal demands to Germany at the political level. This is the “question of decency and justice towards Poland”. This was also announced by her successor to the position Andrzej Duda. To this day, the Polish government remains reluctant to make official demands.