The past is the present, and in Greece that is truer than ever.
Efforts to win reparations for the brutal Nazi occupation during World War II have preoccupied the new radical left Greek government since it came to power in January.
Now Athens has come up with a figure. The deputy finance minister, Dimitris Mardas, told the parliament on Monday night that Germany owed Greece a total of €278.7 billion, or $304 billion. It is an amount that would allow the Greek government to pay back all its debt to European and international creditors since the debt crisis began five years ago.
It is also a sum that Greece is not likely to get: The German government considers the issue of reparations closed after it paid 115 million deutsche marks to Greece in 1960. Greece sees that sum as just the initial payment in a far larger compensation figure.
On Tuesday, German deputy chancellor, Sigmar Gabriel, who is also economy minister, dismissed the Greek demands.
“This doesn’t advance us one millimeter in terms of stabilizing Greece,” he said during a panel discussion in Berlin. “Honestly, I think it’s dumb.”