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Greece: Germany could still owe us from WWII

The Local · 11 Sep 2012, 09:29

Published: 11 Sep 2012 09:29 GMT+02:00

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Striken with debt, Greece has said in recent years that it reserves the right to claim reparations worth several billion euros, saying it was forced to accept unfavourable terms during negotiations in the 1950s.

"The matter remains pending," said Deputy Finance Minister Christos Staikouras on Monday. "Greece has never resigned its rights."

Nonetheless, he called for a "realistic and cool-headed" approach to the prickly issue, which could further sour relations between Germany and Greece.

The four-member working group is expected to submit its report by the end of the year, the ministry said in a statement.

Many in Greece blame Germany for the tough austerity measures currently being enforced as it tries to climb out from under its debt mountain.

Greece has been given international credit lifelines – first for €110 billion in May 2010 and then for €130 billion earlier this year, plus a €107 billion private debt write-off.

Story continues below…

Germany is the biggest single donor to Greece's bailout packages.

AFP/The Local/jcw

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

10:32 September 11, 2012 by Frenemy
No, not really. Value of a human life according to contemporary stats = ~$6 million. Total Greek fatalities during WWII = roughly 311,000. Now, factor in contributions from German tourists to the Greek economy along with foreign military sales offsets over the last 50 years....I think we more than break even ;-)
11:00 September 11, 2012 by Onlythetruth
Tapping german guilt has been a viable moneymaking strategy for years now and the greeks are desperate.
11:19 September 11, 2012 by ibcb73
The Greeks are getting pathetic. Let em leave the EU. F'em.
11:21 September 11, 2012 by Berlin fuer alles
@frenemy. Factoring in German tourist spend is not possible. Consideration went both ways. German tourists got what they paid for. By your mathematics sales of machinery, cars etc from Germany to Greece shoud also be factored in favour of Greece which would put a debit back onto the balance sheet.
11:38 September 11, 2012 by raandy
This kind of rhetoric from the Greeks, only makes them look worse than they all ready do.
12:16 September 11, 2012 by HHayrider
Im thinking there needs to be a statute of limitations on collecting debt like this. The Greeks have had 40+/- years to try and correct the "unfavourable terms it was forced to accept during negotiations in the 1950s."

The Greeks got themselves in this mess, if they want to bite the hand that is tossing them the lifeline, let them find their own way out...
12:17 September 11, 2012 by The-ex-pat
No problem, just subtract it from the EU bail out money THEY OWE Germany...............
12:19 September 11, 2012 by ATM
The Greeks still blame everyone else for their problems which have did not occur overnite. I have a good Idea: Germany leave the EU and let each country pay its own bills. That way Greece can then find someone else to blame for their failed economy.
12:36 September 11, 2012 by likosmokeses
I think it's the best opportunity for our goverment to rethink Germany's positon in Europe. For decades moral hazard was vital enforcment to expand EU (accept greeks in eu and support them cause we kill many of during ww2, accept and support czechs e.t.c.).

War reperation is what it's named to be: REPEAR DAMAGE. So greeks asking to REPEAR THEIR ECONOMY AS WAS BEFORE WW2.

Good for us. Back then there wasn't EU or Eurozone. So greeks have to leave euro, return EU subsidies and Germany is obligated to restore their economy.

Sounds fair to me.
14:45 September 11, 2012 by Frenemy
@Berlin fuer alles: Where did u learn economics?? Some online course?

How does subsidizing contemporary Greek capital imply German debt/financial liability?

Its not Germany's fault that Greek bankers can't balance a ledger to save their lives. If you want someone to blame, look at corrupt ass politicians like Akis Tsohatzopoulos...
15:43 September 11, 2012 by schneebeck
@ frenemy

"Now, factor in contributions from German tourists to the Greek economy along with foreign military sales offsets over the last 50 years"

I might see a flaw in post #1 also.

1) German tourists give cash, and Greeks give tourist services

2) Germans give military hardware, and Greeks give cash

The above two transactions can't be split only focusing on what the Germans give to make the Greeks seem like the only beneficiaries. They were transactions where both sides of the equation exchanged benefits and so the benefits cancel each other out with no side owing the other anything or being obliged to the other. It doesn't seem these transactions could be part of arguments for or against reparations.

Also, the meaning of something you wrote also is not clear to me, can you explain this,

"How does subsidizing contemporary Greek capital imply German debt/financial liability?"

How do the terms of "subsidizing Greek capital" and "German debt/financial liability" tie into comments #1 and #4? What do these terms mean?
16:15 September 11, 2012 by Frenemy
Capital="the wealth, whether in money or property, owned or employed in business by an individual, firm, corporation, etc.; an accumulated stock of such wealth."

What I mean is: Germany has paid for (thru EU bailouts and backing up the idealistic dream that is the EU) with hard currency...whatever the Greeks pay back into this financial system (by buying German civilian/military products or building up the hospitality industry that German tourists in Greece subsidize, to a large extent I might add, Greece has over extended itself and now has to pay the piper (which it is reluctant to do). Kinda seems unfair to Germany to have pay for the mistake of trusting them to honor their obligations...
16:16 September 11, 2012 by Wise Up!
This is the logical end result of the unified Euro currency.
17:04 September 11, 2012 by zeddriver
Gee! I wish I could join a club (the EU) that will pay for all my debts that have accumulated over the years due to my mismanagement, corruption, And promising the lowly citizens many wonderful things that I knew I couldn't deliver. Just vote for me and all will be OK, I'll return your investment in me a hundred fold. And by the way Mr. voter. What's your bank account number.

There is one truism though.

When you rob Peter to pay Paul. One can always count on Paul supporting the pilfering of Peters money.
17:38 September 11, 2012 by smart2012
Lesson learnt: do not partner with Germany, they will be the first one to kick your ass ;)

This was the biggest mistake of Greece in the last 10 years
19:56 September 11, 2012 by swenrika

22:27 September 11, 2012 by Eric1
Come on Greece, you have been freeloading on the rest of Europe, especially Germany, for decades.
02:50 September 12, 2012 by schneebeck
@ smart2012

I want to ask a question.

Do think the country of Germany is completely responsible for the current Euro Crisis with NO other parties at fault? Why?
02:53 September 12, 2012 by BCSLAVE
Comment removed by The Local for breach of our terms.
04:14 September 12, 2012 by Klaipeda
Comment removed by The Local for breach of our terms.
04:58 September 12, 2012 by mos101392
I agree it's a bit too late and does not put the Greek people in a positive position knowing their debts.

However, I myself have lived my life so as not to be a slave to the creditors. There is a good reason the banks don't like me, I pay with cash and I pay no interest. Mr Soros is correct, if you take money from Germany, you will be in perpetual debt and will be destined to pay Germany interest, forever!

This is and will be the new German Reich.
06:25 September 12, 2012 by Berlin fuer alles
Swings and roundabouts. Germany bailed out with the marshal plan after totally F#cki*g up Europe and now Germany doing well again due to the Euro (again at the rest of Europe's expense. Life is just one big merrygoround apart from DE not being so merry when it is their round. :-)))
08:28 September 12, 2012 by C Robert
Humm... looking for an easy meal ticket.
08:46 September 12, 2012 by frankiep
Comment removed by The Local for breach of our terms.
17:06 September 12, 2012 by schneebeck
Post #24 was deleted only because it quoted a long part of the deleted post #19 which was "off the wall" and had to do with a never substantiated persecution of "Germans in Canada".

But the first part of #24 asked the following unrelated question based on the post of a certain "someone":

"Do you ever get tired of blaming Germany for other people's stupidity?"
17:25 September 12, 2012 by Bigfoot76
Okay Greece needs to repay Turkey then for the whole Trojan horse incident.
16:29 September 13, 2012 by Elfie04
As a greek who's been living for 4 years in germany, I have to say that there are tones of misconceptions here about what are the problems in the south, what are the causes of the problems, and what are the people's involvement in these problems.

Misconception 1: greeks are lazy. Well, no. Accroding to the EU statistics, they are the hardest working (at least, now with a raging 25% unemployment, the nes who actually got work). And guess what: germans are among the least working. Dont get me wrong: it is a good thing to have rights, and enjoy life. But do not blame the ones who cannot enjoy life, that they are lazy, just because BILD told you so.

Misconception 2: greeks are corrupt. Well, wrong again. The state is corrupt, yes. To the bone. And unreliable. Cevil disobedience in greece did not grow up as means of luxury revolution, but as means of survival and having no other choice. A german cannot understand this, when he/she goes to a public office and eveything works out fine. The state in greece is, and has been for decades, AGAINST its citizens, favoring only some elite parts, and screwing the rest. Particularly now, that all the burdening taxes are not aimed for the society, but just to repay the bonds, bought at a really high interest from the german and frech credit institutions.

Misconception 3: Germany is bailing us out. NO. They are borrowing money at high interest, only to repay old bonds, and sustain as well a war industry (greece has ridiculously high defence budget, still has, despite the crisis).

I can go on iddefinitely, but the bottom ;line is, that the amazing bail out packages begun when the debt was a 113% of GDP and unemployment < 10%, and not the debt is 160% and unemployment 25% and raising. Well done, my congratulations to the geniuses that made such plan. As for the WW2, when greece is being asked (by local + international politicians) to comply with the most severe austerity programme ever experienced by an EU country, that has lead to poverty thousands within only 2 years, then it is only normal one would search for every possible thing to delay such a process. Right or wrong I do nt know . I do know that the greek "rescue" plan is the biggest joke in history, with dramatic effects...
16:54 September 13, 2012 by zeddriver
@Elfie04 first. I sure hope your family in Greece are safe and doing well during these hard times.

I hope this is a misconception.

As someone from the outside looking in. When I see the Greek citizens protesting on the news. The overwhelming message that I see is that we want our stuff (programs and such). Which is understandable. What I don't see much of is a basic will or any demand by said citizens to insist that the corrupt politicians be thrown out or prosecuted.

Yet I do understand that it can be difficult to rid the government of corruption.
18:00 September 13, 2012 by ChrisRea
@ Elfie04

I think I understand what you are trying to say. However, there are some (logical) errors in your post.

1. You suggest that an hour punched in is an hour of work and therefore Greeks are hardworking because they punch in many hours. Well, the problem is that the so called work hours can be used to read the newspaper, play Facebook games and solve crosswords. So it is about the work ethics. If there are many "work hours" but low results, it might well be that the (lack of) work ethics is responsible.

2. The Greek state is corrupt, but the Greeks are not. What is the Greek state made of then? Armenians? Are the politicians not Greek? Are the state functionaries not Greek? Are the politicians elected by somebody else than Greeks? Are the prosecutors failing to charge corrupt politicians not Greek? If Greeks are extremely ethical, why is there so much tax evasion? Is the corrupt state sending back the tax correctly paid by the regular citizen?

3. You say that Germany is not bailing you out. Well, it is not Germany, it is EU (while many of these funds originate from Germany). Maybe you are not clear what a bailout means. Bailout is a loan to a company or country which faces serious financial difficulty or bankruptcy (as opposed to somebody with a healthy credit history). So it is a bailout.

You claim that Greece faced the most severe austerity program ever experienced by an EU country. Well, Romania underwent austerity measures which were far tougher that the ones for Greece. In 2010 the salaries of state employees were reduces with 25%, the pensions with 15% and the VAT rate was increased from 19% to 24%. It was not easy and the government risked (and lost) the power. More than that, the populists attacked the Rechtsstaat (state of law), but in the end, with a bit of help from EU and US, they failed. But what matters is that, in the end, the public debt is only at some 34% of GDP. The deficit was reduced in 2010 to 6.9% of GDP (from 8.6% in 2009) and furthermore to 5.2% in 2011. It might be unrelated, but Justice seems to (start to) work as well in the last couple of years (for example, a corrupt former prime minister was recently thrown in prison).

So you, as Greeks, might want to take a look at what you can do for yourself, not expect others to always help you.
18:42 September 13, 2012 by Elfie04

The problem with such an argument is that this productivity is not measurable easily, and could be rather subjectively conceived. For example, when it comes to the services, greeks are super more productive, and I am saying for exampe, go to a german restaurant, you will be served in 20 min, go to a greek one and you ll have the food in 5. The same for a normal store, you see a german employee working relaxed and taking clients one after another, and 30 seconds after the shift he is gone. The greek is handling 10 clients simultaneously (and successfully), and he is seating 1 hour extra at the end. Unpaid of course. Again, dont get me wrong, the german system is better, because people have RIGHTS. In greece they dont...

2. The people are not a unit. Not all evade taxes, and not all for the same reason. People who are not freelancers they cannot tax evade for example, and they are *many*. Of course the rich SHOULD pay taxes. But some times you cannot expect things to be done orderly, just because the state is not honest with you. I can give you tones of examples, but briefly one for now: many young people to survive financially they give private course to children for low rate. This is black money, because the monthly income is too low, and it just does not make sense to declare it. These people want to evade taxes? no. Do they want to have this shitty jobs? No. Would they do it, had they the chance to do a normal job?? Of course not. Plus, even in the "good years", as a citizen you had the feeling that the state does nothing for you, does not clean your streets, does not employ many teachers for your school, does not protect you from your illegal boss if you go and complain to the respective agency that he is paying you less than what the law requires.

3. By the letter it is bail out. Not by the essence. It is bailing out their banks, not the society.

4. I agree about Romania. But it is a different case, of which I do not know much...

We do not expect other people to help us, we try to get rid of our government and all the politicians of the last 2 decades, and EU makes things worse, in the last elections EU did all propaganda possible that we are scared and vote for the same old... So, please, dont lecture me about any nice and easy EU politicians are on us, because supporting the last governments the last years, EU is as if they support the suppression and financial and physical destruction of the greek people...
19:22 September 13, 2012 by ChrisRea
@ Elfie04

Thanks for the answer. Let's keep the point order.

1. Good, I am pleased to see that you gave up the argument that Greeks are not lazy because they punch in more hours. I take that your example with restaurant productivity is something that might happen (or the most anecdotal evidence) and not objective, verifiable information. So there is yet no solid argument against the so-called misconception.

2. Right, not all people evade taxes. And there will always be tax evaders. The problem in Greece is that the tax evasion is much higher than anywhere in the EU. With sentences like "Of course the rich SHOULD pay taxes." you create a moral getaway, as people will say "I am not rich, there are many that are richer." No, everyone should pay their taxes. The law already clarifies who and what activities are exempt. You say "People who are not freelancers they cannot tax evade for example". Really? You are aware that taxes are not levied only on commercial activities, right? For example, what about property tax on houses that are actually inhabited, even if they are not finished on paper? That is only one way somebody who earns wages cheats in Greece. You also say "the monthly income is too low, and it just does not make sense to declare it." I would say it is again a problem of mentality. If you are honest, you declare all incomes and pay the taxes, disregarding how low they are. You have a problem with the services delivered by the state? Then you should fight the respective agencies, not the state budget. By not paying the taxes you owe, you actually commit theft against the citizens that are paying. Again, a mentality I cannot approve.

3. The Greeks took money from international banks. They could choose not to, or, if the deal was made by a corrupt politician, he could be prosecuted and his wealth confiscated. Did something like that happen? No. So it is still a bailout, in letter and essence.

4. I am also glad that you gave up that false statement about the "toughest austerity measures".

With sentences like "EU makes things worse, in the last elections EU did all propaganda possible that we are scared and vote for the same old" you show that you still like pointing fingers abroad than do something about the problem itself. Was it EU that prevented you to prosecute the corrupt politicians or the tax evaders? I guess not.
19:57 September 13, 2012 by Elfie04

1. There is a solid argument, coming from EU statistcs in terms of hours (info here http://www.oecd.org/ ). About productivity, I have no idea how/if does one measure it. And my personal experience (subjectivity here) is that german are not hard workers. Perhaps productivity comes with better work conditions, better infrastructure, better pays and less work hours (more relaxed means more productive/creative. less prone to make mistakes. And it does pay off to feel respected by your employer. Sth that in general is not the case in my country).

2. Tax evasion is high. Tax exemption is even higher. Legal one. With the permisison of the governments. In the name of competitiveness. (bullshit in my ears). Everyone should pay taxes, true. according to their capacities. That is why, in modern societies, there are scales, the poor pays nothing, the middle class something descent, the rich pay sth significantly more. In unequal societies, such as mine, these thing would mean, that a large part of the taxes could or should come from some upper business class. That is not the case. That is why the weight falls on the middle/poor class. I have seen statistics, according to which, the decade of 1990-2000, the business (smaller or bigger) had their taxes reduced by some scale factor. The lack of state income was replenished by taxing employees (people with regular salaries). The navy owners in greece (billions of euros revenues), pay a ridiculous low amount of taxes, again in the name of competitiveness. If you want a mentality of the honest citizen, you have to cultivate it by being an honest and protective state. The truth is, the state was not interested in taxes, was not interested in protecting its citizens and creating this type of honest human to perpetuate ethics etc. Instead, they wanted cheap money form the E Central Bank..

(People do pay consumpion tax, which is not egalitarian kind of tax, it does not look at income .So, VAT now is huge in greece, like in romania, as you mentioned. )

3. You think it is easy? If it would, it would have happened ages ago. Thow main parties were shown to be bribed by siemens, Guess what happened: nothing. Do you think people would just give away their power like this? they hang on to it by every means they have.

I am pointing to our oppresive system and its supporters, from inside and outside greece.
15:28 September 14, 2012 by ErnestPayne
And Germany could sue Italy for reparations because of incursions by the Roman legions. Italy could sue the French for invasions in the late middle ages. How far do you want to chase this issue?
20:50 September 14, 2012 by michael valerio
Wake up Germany. Kick these dead beat Greeks out of the EU.
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