Greece invokes Germany’s Nazi past in row over financial crisis

By Calvin Palmer

Sixty-five years after the Second World War ended, it is still invoked to further political arguments even though those who fought in the conflict – the Greatest Generation — are dwindling in number.

The financial crisis in Greece has plunged the country into crisis and it faces a bail-out by the EU. The Germans have been among Greece’s harshest critics following the announcement that its budget deficit was four times the level laid down by the eurozone.

Needless to say such criticism has not gone down well with the Greeks.

Theodoros Pangalos, deputy prime minister, said Germany had no right to reproach Greece for anything after it devastated the country under the Nazi occupation.

“They took away the gold that was in the Bank of Greece, and they never gave it back,” Pangalos said. “They shouldn’t complain so much about stealing and not being very specific about economic dealings.”

Andreas Peschke, spokesman for the German Foreign Ministry, rejected the accusations by saying Germany had paid Greece the equivalent of more than €4.4 billion ($5.9 billion) in formal war reparations and compensation for slave laborers.

“A discussion of the past is not of great help in resolving Greece’s problems,” he added.

Picture courtesy of Deutsche Welle.

German media have not helped to pour oil on troubled waters. Earlier this month, Stern magazine published an article that accused the Greeks of frittering away German taxpayers’ savings.

Another German magazine, Focus, further published a front cover that depicted a statue of the Venus de Milo making an obscene gesture under the title “Greek cheats.”

Picture Courtesy of Deutsche Welle.

Greek newspaper Eleftheros Typos responded to the Focus front cover by printing a doctored photograph of the statue atop Berlin’s Victory Column holding a swastika.

German ambassador to Greece, Wolfgang Scultheiss, was summoned to Parliament for a dressing down by the speaker, Filippos Petsalnikos, who speaker described the German coverage as “offensive” and “surpassing all limits”.

The Mayor of Athens, Nikitas Kaklamanis, has also waded into the dispute. “You [Germany] owe us 70bn euros for the ruins you left behind,” he said.

The Greek Consumers’ Federation has called on shoppers to boycott German goods.

The Greeks feel aggrieved that the country’s crisis is largely due to outside forces such as the financial markets and the EU.

In a world where the “Don’t Blame Me” mentality is the norm, Greek anger is, perhaps, understandable.

Germany’s concerns stem from a widely-held belief that, as Europe’s largest economy,  it will eventually have to foot the bill for Greece’s economic laxity.

[Based on reports by The Daily Telegraph, Deutsche Welle and BBC News.]

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14 responses to “Greece invokes Germany’s Nazi past in row over financial crisis

  1. Alexander the Macedon

    BOYCOTT Germany now.
    The Germans are fascist barbarians and they owe Greece a lot of money since World War 2

    • Oxenon

      You guys should calm down at last and start to save money instead of going on strike and doing more harm on Greeces financial situation.
      I am greek and live for many years in Germany and don’t know barbarian facists.
      Stop behaving as childs you guys down there and think why so many people have left the country. It is still corrupt to the bone and you guys should start to think in an economic way. If the greek state is not able to make endeavors for modern financial policies and a balanced budget it is definately not the fault of Germany or other bigger European countries that bear the far major parts of the community’s costs.
      At least this is what can be expected from an ancient cultural people.

  2. nick

    Excuse me, but i don’t think this article is catching the point. We didn’t want money from Germany. All we say is that those who are ALSO responsible for this situation (not just for wwii and what did to Greece, but for Siemens, OTE, Airports, Metro) should not speak. Pagalos said: “I don’t say they have to give back the money necessarily, but they have to say thanks.”
    “Don’t Blame Me” is not the norm in Greece. my country is not the centre of this world, so i don’t think we are responsible for this financial crisis. Unfortunatelly, none people is responsible for what banks and golden boys have done. But the truth is that all of us are going to pay for this again…

  3. Dex

    @Alexander: If you’re the personification of Greece, it’s no wonder your country is in dire condition. Fools like you seek to cast blame on Germany–who has already paid reparations–instead of holding your government responsible for its own mismanagement. It’s not Germany’s fault that your country is in financial ruins, but that doesn’t stop you from spewing imbecilic World War II taunts. Go ahead and boycott Germany while spending time on empty beaches vacated by 2.5 million German tourists.

  4. ange

    The Greeks have no one but themselves to blame, as governments are elected by people, and most Greeks prefer to work along rather than fight a rotten system. As for the Germans, they can hardly cast smear on any civilisation, since they are responsible for TWO WWS in the recent history, and racism and atrocities that van to this day cause SHAME.

  5. ange

    the greeks have no one but themselves to blame, as governments are elected by people, it is a collective mistake and inability to deal with corruption.
    On the other hand the germans can hardly cast smear on any civilisation, when initiated two world wars in the very recent past.

  6. Dex

    @Ange:Only those ignorant of Germany’s current status continue to be stuck in the 40s, pathetically bleating about WWII. Get over it. Unless, of course, you have the guts to own up to your own country’s racism and involvement in war. Otherwise, continue cowering behind your past.

  7. ANTON

    What can one say ?
    Germans ……are always Germans

  8. Peter

    1) Greece is responsible for racking up and concealing its government debt. The finger pointing must stop.
    2) While Germany is certainly responsible for damages it caused Greece during WWII, which Germany has not fairly indemnified Greece (or any other nation) for, is a fact. However, it is petty argument for the Greeks to bring up at a time when they need German help.
    3) Germany must and will help Greece, but not out of the kindness of their hearts or guilt. They will do so because Germans are pragmatists and they understand the economic domino affect that will follow if Greece is allowed to fail or seek IMF help.
    4) Both Greeks and Germans need to stop threatening each other. If 2.5 million Germans want to vacation somewhere else, its their God given right. Greece will still have plenty of tourism. And if 10 million Greeks want to boycott German products, thats ok too. But they better start producing something of their own as an alternative.
    5) Both Greeks and Germans need to familiarize themselves with the facts before polarizing themselves. Each side has valid arguments, although I have been disappointed with some of the statements of Theodoros Pangalos.
    6) Germans must realize that the passage of time in and of itself does not lessen the impact of Germany’s war crimes. (In fact in an economic sense, time only exacerbates the discrepency between what is and what would have been).

  9. Anarchist


  10. bystander

    I think people are forgetting that Germany was bombed to rubble by the English and americans, and then had half their country crushed by communism.

    In comparison, Greece should be way ahead!

  11. Opinion

    Anyone who attacks a person or thinks less of someone because of what their GRANDPARENTS did is either stupid or trying to take advantage of them. Germans today didn’t do the atrocities that were committed in WWII. The United NUKED Japan TWICE, and you didn’t Japan whine and moan about that when they went through their economic depression in the nineties. ALSO, during the Greco-Turkish War in 1919-1922, both sides were accused of ethnic cleaning, massacring of women and children, and other war atrocities, do you see the Turks whining about reparations nowadays? NO.

  12. GreekMan

    Fuck Germans

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