Merkel says Germany recognizes responsibility for Nazi crimes in Greece
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Merkel says Germany recognizes responsibility for Nazi crimes in Greece

Chancellor declares an understanding of the amount of suffering brought to the country during World War II

German Chancellor Angela Merkel pays tribute at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier  in Athens on January 11, 2019 (Aris Messinis/AFP)
German Chancellor Angela Merkel pays tribute at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Athens on January 11, 2019 (Aris Messinis/AFP)

Germany recognizes its historical responsibility for crimes committed by the Nazis in Greece, Chancellor Angela Merkel said Friday on her first visit to Athens since 2014.

“We recognize our historical responsibility. We know how much suffering we, as Germany in the time of Nazism, have brought to Greece,” she said.

“That is why it’s a lesson for us to do everything to have good relations with Greece, and to lend each other support for the prosperity of both countries.”

Tensions linger over wartime reparations for the World War II Nazi occupation of Greece, with Berlin arguing the issue was settled in 1960 in a deal with several European governments.

An illustrative photo of a Holocaust memorial in the northern Greek city of Kastoria. (CC BY-SA 3.0, David Shai, Wikipedia)

Of 77,000 Jews living in Greece at the time of World War II, around 60,000 were murdered during the Holocaust according to the Yad Vashem memorial center.

During her first visit to Greece in 2014, Merkel faced major protests and sought to ease tensions with Athens where Berlin was often blamed for biting austerity and bailouts.

Also in 2014, ex-president Joachim Gauck sought public forgiveness in the name of Germany from relatives of those murdered by the Nazis in the mountains of northern Greece.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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