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President tells Greece sorry for Nazi crimes

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President tells Greece sorry for Nazi crimes
Photo: DPA
17:16 CET+01:00
President Joachim Gauck begged forgiveness for Nazi war crimes at the end of his visit to Greece on Friday, in one of the clearest appeals to victims' families ever uttered by a German head of state.

"With shame and pain I ask the families of those murdered for forgiveness in Germany's name," said Gauck on Friday in a moving ceremony in the village of Lingiades in northwestern Greece.

"I pay my respects to the victims of the monstrous crimes mourned here and in many places across Greece," he added in his speech after laying a wreath at a memorial dedicated to the victims of a massacre in the village.

On October 3rd, 1943, German Wehrmacht soldiers murdered over 80 locals including 30 children. The last surviving eyewitness of the massacre, who was also present at the event, supported increasing calls throughout Greece for billions of euros in German reparations for the 70-year-old crimes.

"They are just words," said Panagiotis Babouskas, who was orphaned when the German Wehrmacht killed both his parents. "I want justice and that means reparation payments."

Greek President Karolos Papoulias, who met with Gauck during his visit, openly joined the calls for German reparations on Thursday, which have so far been rejected by the German government on legal grounds.

Gauck, who did not comment on the reparation demands said he wanted to address what "perpetrators and many of those politically responsible in the post-war period did not want to or could not address: all that happened was brutal injustice."

Germany a great responsibility due to its past crimes, said Gauck. He added that, "the obligation to do every thing in our power not to allow to be forgotten that which never should have happened." 

He who went on to announce a German-funded project to raise awareness about war crimes committed by the German army on Greek soil.

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