The German government’s rejection of Greek claims for World War Two reparations lacked “clear argumentation,” according to a report published by the German Bundestag’s research service on Wednesday.
“The position of the German government is justifiable under international law, but by no means mandatory,” said the report, which was commissioned by the Left Party.
The Bundestag’s experts suggested that a decision by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague would create legal clarity over Greece’s claim to reparations.
However, the experts noted that the German government had to voluntarily agree to such a procedure because the dispute dated back more than 70 years.
In April 2019, the Greek parliament decided to assert its claim for reparations from Germany, which it estimated were as high as 300 billion euros (337.4 billion U.S. dollars), according to the official report.
A “verbal note” by the Greek government containing the official request to negotiate reparations has subsequently been submitted to the German government.
After receiving the note, the Federal Foreign Office in Berlin responded that the issue of Greek war reparations had been “legally and politically closed” for Germany.
At the end of June, Niels Annen, minister of state at the Federal Foreign Office, said at the request of the German Left Party that “none of the parties intends to refer the question of Greek reparations claims to the International Court of Justice.”
The Left Party has then called on the German government to respond to the Greek reparations demands and to “no longer evade its historical responsibility,” Heike Haensel, member of the Left Party group in the Bundestag, told the German press agency (dpa).
In the report published on Wednesday, the Bundestag experts also examined the German refusal to make further World War Two compensation payments to Poland.
Poland’s ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party has repeatedly demanded compensation from Germany since 2017, and the Polish government has said that it will present its report on the issue by the end of the year.
In this case, however, the Bundestag experts did not consider the demands justified, stating that “there are no valid legal lines of argument for this.”
In contrast to Greece, Poland had expressly declared in 1953 and then again in 1970 that it would refrain from claiming reparations. Poland, however, regards these declarations as ineffective because they were made under pressure from the Soviet Union.
From the point of view of the German Bundestag experts, however, the Polish renunciation of reparation payments remains “binding under international law.”