Leading German Politicians Split With Merkel’s Position on War Reparations to Greece; ‘It Would be Good for us Germans to put our own House in Order in Terms of our History’


Leading members of Angela Merkel’s junior coalition partner have joined calls for the country to pay reparations to Greece for the crimes of the Second World War.

Several senior Social Democrats (SPD) and Greens in Germany have for the first time said their nation should consider paying reparations to Greece for Nazi crimes committed during the second world war, breaking ranks with Angela Merkel’s government.

Angela Merkel’s government has refused to discuss the demands, at a time when relations between the two countries are already strained over the bail-out for Greek debt.

But several senior politicians are beginning to talk openly about the topic.

“We should make a financial approach to victims and their families,” said Gesine Schwan, a respected member of the Social Democrat party (SPD), who share power with Merkel’s conservatives.

“It would be good for us Germans to put our own house in order in terms of our history,” she told Spiegel Online. “Victims and descendants have longer memories than perpetrators and descendants,” said Schwan, twice-nominated as a candidate for German president.

The SPD deputy chairman, Ralf Stegner, representing the party’s left, said reparations should not be linked to the euro crisis. “But independently, we must have a discussion about reparations,” Stegner told Spiegel. “After decades, there are still international legal questions to be resolved.“

The co-leader of the Greens, Anton Hofreiter, said the issue could not be brushed aside as it was “neither morally nor legally closed”.


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