Nazis’ stolen ‘loan’ from Greek bank: Will Germany pay it back?

Greece owes Germany billions of euros. Or is it the other way around? More than seven decades after the end of WWII, Athens and Berlin are still at odds over costs incurred during the Nazi occupation of Greece.


German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier travelled to Greece on Wednesday for a state visit, where he is to meet his Greek counterpart Prokopis Pavlopoulos. Talks are set to include topics including the country’s emergence from the debt crisis and ongoing youth unemployment – but an even older topic likely to come up is that of Greece’s demand for German reparations from World War Two.

While Germany has long held the issue as closed, it will be hard to avoid – Steinmeier is to begin his trip with a visit the former concentration camp Haidari, which was operated by the Nazis in an Athens suburb during the Axis occupation of Greece in World War II.

Tortured history

In May 1941, Nazi Germany invaded Greece, and raised the swastika flag on the Acropolis in Athens. The Wehrmacht occupied the country until 1944, with troops marauding and looting towns across the entire peninsula. The economic fallout from the war and the years of occupation have been a matter of controversy ever since.

Greece feels it was at a disadvantage in international reparations negotiations after the end of the war. In 2015, an expert commission tasked by the Greek parliament with determining the extent of that disadvantage determined that losses and damages totaled at least €289 billion (333 billion dollars). Now, its calculations come to €332 billion as well as repayment for a “loan” the Nazis forcibly took from the Bank of Greece.

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