Germany Rejects Greek Community's Claim for Nazi-era Reparations

Jewish residents of Thessaloniki paid huge ransom for release of workers who later perished in the Holocaust.

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Haaretz
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Haaretz

Germany has rejected a reparations claim by the Jewish community of Thessaloniki, in Greece, for a forced ransom paid to Nazi occupation forces during World War II.

"With regard to issues of reparations, there are no new developments and all these questions are answered," a German finance ministry spokesman told a press conference on Wednesday, according to The Local news service.

The community announced earlier this week that the claim is being pursued through the European Court of Human Rights. It said that Jewish residents of the city had paid 2.5 million drachmas (about $69 million currently) to a Nazi commander in July 1942 to secure the release of thousands of Jewish men press-ganged into brutal forced labor.

Despite the payment, raised from donations and property sales, most of the victims were later transported to the Auschwitz-Birkenau Nazi death camp in Poland, where they perished.

The spokesman said Germany has always indicated an awareness of its historical responsibility for World War II crimes and was interested in cooperating with the community on future projects.

The official position of Greece is that it reserves the right to claim additional wartime reparations because it was forced to accept unfavorable terms during negotiations with Germany in the 1950s.

A German foreign ministry spokesman said separately that Berlin was ready to work on unspecified new projects with the city's Jewish community, independent of the legal bid.

"It's our express proposal to pursue forward-looking projects with the Jewish community of Thessaloniki," he told reporters.

Thessaloniki port and part of the old city.Credit: Wikimedia Commons

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