Category: The War Facts

26 Sourmeli St., Chania, Crete

By , November 10, 2017 9:22 pm

This street corner in Chania is a living monument of Nazi barbarity.
Photos by Yannis Ikonomou.
Click image to enlarge and read the text.

WWII German Reparations – Damages & Thefts of Antiquities

By , August 29, 2016 9:32 am

Thanks to many HEC volunteers, the manuscript you will see by clicking on the link below, it documents eyewitness accounts of the damage, destruction, theft, illegal excavation, seizure, exportation, and depredation of antiquities by the WWII occupied forces from locations all over Greece.

This documentation effort was commenced at the command of the Ministry on 15 February 1943.

The full document was retyped, translated and archived in modern media form by the HEC volunteers.
View the document and get your personal copy.

Thank you.

The Math of Mass Starvation and Murder

By , June 19, 2014 7:51 am

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The Math of Mass Starvation and Murder: Germany in Greece During World War II

By Evaggelos Vallianatos

The German occupation of Europe in the 1940s was brutal. Millions of people died. Europe was devastated. However, no European country suffered as much as Greece.

The Greeks were the first Europeans who won a victory against fascism. They defeated the Italian allies of the Germans. They fought bravely against the attacking Germans and kept fighting them throughout the occupation of their country, 1941-1944.

Once in Greece, the Germans rewarded Greek bravery with implacable hostility. They dismembered the country, dividing it between the Bulgarians, the avenging Italians, and themselves.

The unspoken strategy of the occupiers (Germans, Italians, Bulgarians) was to wipe out the Greeks through starvation, bombing, and mass murder. They did that, inflicting unspeakable atrocities against the civilian population. But the Germans, being the warlords-in-chief, outdistanced their partners in crime, Bulgarians and Italians. Their barbarism easily surpassed that of all previous foreign occupiers of Greece.

In the short period of German occupation, 1941-1944, the violence of the German-led armies of conquest, turned Greece from a modestly well-to-do country to a country on the brink of death.

The following math of mass starvation and murder tell the story. The numbers come from “The Sacrifices of Greece in the Second World War,” a 1946 report prepared for the Greek government by the architect K. A. Doxiadis. In 2014, the Athenian daily, Kathimerini, reprinted this valuable and lavishly illustrated two-volume study in commemoration of the sacrifices Greeks made during WWII.

The story of WWII Greece starts with food, the weapon of starvation for the occupiers. During 1941-1944, there was a dramatic decline in Greek food production: wheat and barley, life and death crops for the Greeks, dropped by 40 percent; beans, 36 percent; tobacco, 89 percent; cotton, 75 percent; olive oil, 16 percent; grapes and raisins, 66 percent; wine, 50 percent; fruits, 20 percent.

The occupiers speeded Greek starvation by killing the peasants’ farm animals. They slaughtered 60 percent of the horses, mules, and cattle; 50 percent of the donkeys, sheep and goats; 80 percent of the hogs; and 50 percent of the chickens.

Next after food, the entire country became a field of desolation for the Germans, Italians and Bulgarians. They destroyed 25 percent of the country’s forests; 56 percent of the roads; 50 to 90 percent of the bridges; 65 percent of automobiles; 60 percent of the trucks; 80 percent of the buses; 100 percent of the trains and railways; 80 percent of the factories; 100 percent of the water and sewage infrastructure.

The 1946 report says: “principal harbors were blown up… Installations, machinery and quays were destroyed.” The Germans also blew up the strategic Corinth canal. In addition, the Germans sank 74 percent of the Greek ships and destroyed 100 percent of telephone communications.

The Germans bombed all major Greek cities, inflicting heavy damage. According to the 1946 study: “The whole country lies in ruins. From northern Epirus to the Dodecanese large and small buildings, churches, schools, hospitals and dwellings have been transformed into a mass of tragic ruins.”

The countryside had a similar fate. According to the 1946 study, “the occupying forces applied a systematic plan for the destruction of Hellenism: the burning of villages. 1,770 Greek villages lie in ashes. In certain parts of the country, particularly near the frontiers, destruction by fire reached the proportion of 90 % of the villages of every region.”

The Germans and their allies killed or were responsible for the death of thirteen percent of the Greek population. In 1940, there were 7,335,000 people in Greece. In 1944, the population numbered 6,805,000 persons. The report notes that the favorable methods of mass murder included: “Hangings, massacres, shootings, [and] death vans.”

The genocidal effects of German occupation of Greece reached a macabre climax in June 1944. On June 10, 1944, Greek partisans killed a few German soldiers near Distomo, a small village near Parnassus and Delphi. The Germans retaliated with crusading ferocity.

Hundreds of soldiers advanced toward Distomo – spreading death on their way, shooting people and animals. Once in the village, the Germans acted with a mania for death and criminality rarely matched in history. They kept shooting anyone on sight. But eventually, they put the annihilation of Distomo into action. They raped all female children and women, cutting their breasts and ripping apart their stomachs. In some cases, they strangled the women with their own guts. They cut the throats of all infants.

The Germans then shot or hanged all boys and men. In fact, they used bayonets to crucify men on trees lining the streets. All this mayhem took the Germans an entire day. The next day, they came back to Distomo and filled their trucks with looted goods from the homes of the dead peasants.

A Swedish Red Cross worker stationed in Athens, Sture Linner, witnessed the results of the German atrocity. In his book, My Odyssey, he admits he drove a truck full of food to Distomo. It was June 14, 1944. He entered a village in flames, empty of life, utterly destroyed. The picture could have matched Dante’s inferno.

Linner visited Distomo in November 1944 when the Germans were withdrawing from Greece. Greek partisans surrounded a detachment of German soldiers near Distomo. Linner drove a truck full of food. A priest and a Greek military commander met him near the village. The priest said both Greeks and Germans were starving. But he urged Linner to feed the defeated Germans because they had a long way to reach home.

Linner’s Greek wife burst into tears.

This article is a Truthout original.

Evaggelos Vallianatos is the author of several books, including “Poison Spring,” forthcoming from Bloomsbury Press.

Source: trouthout

Letter to Members of German Parliament

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By , June 9, 2014 1:01 pm

Letter sent to the members of the German Parliament. View in: German | English | Greek

Legal versus Moral Responsibility

By , May 30, 2014 8:59 pm

by Costas Tzanos, PhD.

On his three day visit to Greece starting March 5, 2014, the German president Joachim Gauck visited the village of Ligiades, near the town of Ioannina, where German troops massacred 92 of its 96 residents in 1943, and the Ioannina synagogue where he met the only two surviving members of the Jewish community from 1944, Esthir Cohen and Janet Sevi.

Over 90 villages and towns suffered the same fate as Ligiades during the German occupation of Greece from 1941 to 1944. Over 1 700 villages were looted and burned, many of them to the ground, as reprisals for the Greek resistance. The whole country was plundered and starved. During WWII Greece lost 13% of its population mostly from starvation and German war crimes.

Around 60 000-65 000 Greek Jews were deported to Auschwitz, most of them from Thessaloniki and Ioannina. In September 1944, only 2 469 Greek Jews were still alive in Auschwitz.

On March 25, 1944, 1 725 men, women, and children from the Jewish community of Ioannina were piled on trucks for the journey to Auschwitz – among them 17-year-old Esthir and her family. Less than 50 survived, among them Esthir and her sister.

Germany, in addition to charging Greece exorbitant sums as occupation expenses, obtained forcibly from Greece a loan (occupation loan) of $ 3.5 billion. Hitler himself had recognized the legal character of this loan and had given orders to start the process of its repayment.

War reparations awarded at the Paris Conference of 1946 were deferred by the London Agreement of 1953 “until the final settlement of the problem of reparation.” Greece has demanded payment of the war reparations, awarded by the Paris Conference of 1946, as well as of the forced occupation loan, in 1945, 1946, 1947, 1964, 1965, 1966, 1974, 1987, and 1995. Germany has steadfastly refused payment. German officials make public statements like: “there is no legal base for Greece to claim reparations from Germany. The legal reasons are complex and I would not like to elaborate..”; “as Germans we always accepted our moral responsibility for what happened in Greece”; “the question of war reparations is no longer an issue” ; “this matter has been resolved long ago” .

In an interview to the Greek newspaper Kathimerini and on the question of WWII reparations, president Gauck said: “During World War II, Greece suffered an especially violent German occupation…. Greek Jews were systematically exterminated, and Greeks were shot, hanged, killed in a brutal manner, and many Greeks died of hunger. This … burdens us with a particular responsibility…I would not like to discuss the legal issue of reparations, but allow me to say this: We do not want to deny our moral responsibility nor relativize it… However, although many Germans are aware of the crimes in other countries, events in Greece escape them to a large degree. Education on … the persecution of Greeks is, in my opinion, the most important task in the immediate future.”

The president of Greece, Karolos Papoulias, raised the pending issue of war reparations and the repayment of the occupation loan with the visiting German president. In response, president Gauck acknowledged that Germany carried a “moral debt” for massacres committed by German soldiers in anti-guerrilla reprisals, but reiterated that Germany was not willing to discuss reparations. “I believe the legal way for it is closed,” he said.

It has been reported in the Greek press that president Papoulias responded to president Gauck that it was “a paradox” that Greeks are saddled with painful austerity measures and commitments while Germany refuses to discuss “responsibilities” arising from WWII. “Your position that ‘there is no issue’ is something that you claim. It cannot be unilaterally projected as a final conclusion.”

On the issue of reparations to Greece and on the repayment of the occupation loan, as president Gauck said, the Germans are accepting “moral responsibility” and their “moral debt”. What do “moral responsibility” and “moral debt” mean here?

Accepting moral responsibility, as opposed to legal responsibility, means acceptance of blame or praise for taking or failing to take a moral action while there was no legal obligation to take this action. “For example, one who encounters a car accident may be regarded as worthy of praise for having saved a child from inside the burning car, or alternatively, one may be regarded as worthy of blame for not having used one’s mobile phone to call for help.”(… )

The Germans are accepting the moral blame (moral responsibility) for the war crimes committed during WWII in Greece, for the destruction of the country, and for the loan that they forcibly extracted. But payment of the reparations and of the occupation loan is a legal obligation dictated by the Agreement of the Paris Conference of 1946 and the London Agreement of 1953, as well as by the contractual provisions of the forced loan. This is not a moral obligations that can be satisfied by acceptance of moral blame.

The London Agreement of 1953 dealt not only with the WWII reparations, but also with reparations due from WWI, which had been cancelled by Hitler. Germany made its last payment to American claimants of WWI reparations on October 3, 2010, nearly 92 years after the end of this war (… ).

In 2010, Greece signed the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) that specifies in detail the criteria to be met for the release of bailout funds. Since then German officials are consistently reminding to the Greeks their obligations arising from the MoU, which as Peer Steinbrueck, the last Social Democratic Challenger of Angela Merkel, said has imposed on Greece a “deadly dose of austerity”( since 2009 Greece’s GDP has dropped by 27 percent and unemployment has grown to 28%).

One of the fundamental principles of justice is that of symmetry. As president Papoulias alluded to president Gauck, while Germany demands from Greece to fulfill its debt obligations, does not justice also require Germany to fulfill her legal obligations arising from the war reparations and the forced occupation loan?

Source: Posted in Daily Kos, April 22, 2014.