September 3, 2021
Eighty years have passed since Hitler’s Germany invaded Greece on April 6, 1941. Many massacres took place in Greece until the end of 1944.The total reduction of the population of the country during WW2 was 13.5%. Wehrmacht destroyed about 1770 towns and villages during the occupation with 131 recognized holocausts until now. During this year of remembrance the issue of the German debt towards Greece becomes even more important.
Some of the communities that suffered from nazi atrocities were Distomo, Giannitsa, the villages of the Viannosregion, Kontomari, Kandanos, Alikianos, Anogeia, Damasta, Hortiatis, Kommeno, Kleisoura, Pirogi, Mesobouno, Kerdyllia, Kaisariani, Mousiotitsa, Paramythia, Ypati and Ligkiades. The worst massacre took place at Kalavrita and the neighbouring villages where 1.436 people were executed on December 13, 1943.
The official catalogue of theft and looting by the German army during the occupation was published by the Greek State in 1946. It includes 8500 moveable ancient artifacts that had been stolen. These artifacts have never been returned and they appear in certain museums, auctionsand in private collections.
The allied Conference of Paris(November 1945-January 1946) agreed to the amount of 7,181 billion dollars(at the purchasing value of 1938) for the reparations of the Federal Republic of Germany to Greece (this amount does not include the money owed for the occupation loan and for the archaeological and cultural goods that had been looted). While Italy and Bulgaria paid their debts towards Greece, Germany has not repaid its debt and has been constantly rejecting Greek requests to start negotiations between the two sides, using various excuses. Most recently Germany has been invoking the 2+4 Treaty(Moscow 1990) claiming that this treaty has settled all the issues of reparations in a comprehensive and total manner.
However, the Scientific Committee of the Federal Parliament does not agree with the Federal Government.In a report that was published in 2019 it admits that Greece never resigned from its demands vis-a vis Germany. Regarding the 2+4 Treaty(which Germany uses to support its position that it resolved the issue of Greek demands) the Scientific Committee writes:”Reparations are not mentioned in the text of the treaty. Greece, as a third country that did not participate in the formulation of the Treaty, should have agreed explicitly to the disadvantages that concerned it”. In any case, Greece is not bound by an Agreement in which it did not participate, did not sign or ratify. On the contrary Germany is bound by the London Treaty of 1953 which contains favorable dispositions for it and which allowed the reconstruction of the country. Germany should honor its signature.
The claims of Greece towards Germany concern damage done to the country and to Greek citizens during the second World War, the loss of life of Greek citizens, the return of the obligatory loan of the Bank of Greece towards the third Reich including interest and the remaining reparations from the first World War that were not payed. We also demand the return of the archaeological artifacts and other cultural goods that were stolen from Greece.
Athens has submitted at least three verbal notes to Germany asking the settlement of debts towards Greece. In November 1966, 14 November 1995 and 4 June 2019 by which the opening of negotiations was asked in order to pay war compensation and indemnization from the First and Second World Wars, the return of payments from the loan and the return of cultural goods.
After eighty years, we demand from the German government, the political parties, and the members of Federal Parliament, to open negotiations with Greece in order to resolve such a serious issue. If justice prevails the bilateral relations between Greece and Germany will be enhanced and the soul of those killed will at last rest in peace. This will also send a strong and permanent message against fascism.
Mr. Vasilios Mataragas, President of the Hellenic American National Council
Dr. Theodore Halatsis, President of the Canadian Hellenic Congress
Capt. Evagelos Rigos, President of the International Hellenic Association –
Past Rector Maria Negreponti-Delivanis-President of the Delivani’s Foundation
Mr. Ioannis Gekas-President of the Pan-Macedonian Associatiuon of Germany