- Greece says it has right to claim millions because it was forced to accept ‘unfavourable terms’ during 1950 negotiations
- Working group has been set to scour old archives to hunt unpaid reparations
- Many in Greece blame Germany for the tough austerity measures currently being enforced
- Meanwhile, it’s revealed German Chancellor Angela Merkel now wants to stop Athens from leaving the eurozone at all costs
By Allan Hall
PUBLISHED:07:31 EST, 11 September 2012| UPDATED:13:03 EST, 11 September 2012
Greece is biting back at Germany with claims it still owes the country money for crimes committed and property destroyed during the Nazi occupation in the Second World War.
Just one day before Germany’s highest court rules on whether the bailout funds for Greece and other cash-strapped eurozone countries are valid, Greece has admitted that a working group has been set up to scour old archives to find evidence of unpaid reparations.
It comes as it was reported German Chancellor Angela Merkel has made a sharp U-turn and now wants to stop Athens from leaving the eurozone at all costs.
Sources close to the chancellery say Mrs Merkel fears a worse impact on the German economy if Greece is forced out than the fallout from the collapse of the American bank Lehman Brothers in 2008.
That implosion cost Germany five per cent of its GDP and hundreds of thousands of jobs.
Influential national news magazine Der Spiegel said today: ‘For the German leader, it is essential to avoid the consequences of a Grexit before national elections next year.
‘Merkel has already made up her mind. After long hesitation, she has sided with French President Francois Hollande and the European Commission.’
Meanwhile, stricken with debt, Greece says it reserves the right to claim reparations of millions saying it was forced to accept ‘unfavourable terms’ during negotiations in the 1950s.
Those millions are a drop in the bucket compared to Greek debt in the billions, but Athens insists ‘right is right’.
Great risks: If Greece left from the eurozone, it might eventually be necessary to create a common ‘debt union’ to stabilise problem countries like Italy and Spain
In recent days: Police are protesting the upcoming cuts in their salaries, as the riot police try to keep the protest peaceful
‘The matter remains pending,’ said deputy finance minister Christos Staikouras on Monday. ‘Greece has never resigned its rights.’
Despite Mrs Merkel’s U-turn, it is feared the issue could further sour relations between Germany and Greece, which are already at a low point.
Mrs Merkel is routinely portrayed as the new Fuehrer of Europe who is trying to rule the continent at the expense of Greek misery.
Many in Greece blame Germany for the tough austerity measures currently being enforced as it tries to climb out from under its debt mountain.
‘The four-member working group is expected to submit its report by the end of the year,’ the ministry said in a statement.
Greece has had nearly £300billion in aid and debt write-offs since the crisis began. And it is still not enough.
Nazi Germany occupied Greece in 1941 and although most of the mainland was liberated in 1944, many islands remained in German hands until the end of the war in May 1945.
The occupation brought about terrible hardships for the Greek civilian population, with more than 300,000 dying in Athens alone from starvation.
Tens of thousands more died in Nazi reprisals. Greece laid claim to seven billion pounds in reparations after the war from the Germans for its suffering but it received a fraction of this amount along with some goods and factory machinery