Thursday, June 07, 2012

Germany and Greece, not always a happy interaction: Second World War edition

New York Times reporter A. C. (Alexander Cameron) Sedgwick in "The Plot Against Greece" Foreign Affairs 3/1948 (Apr) reported on the costs imposed by Germany on Greece during the Second World War, when there imposition was considerably worse than that of Germany Chancellor Angela Merkel currently:

On October 28, 1940, Italy attacked Greece and was defeated in the mountains of Albania. The following April, Germany invaded, with Bulgaria as an accomplice. Greece resisted, and paid for valor. The price list follows, in part, as officially given: war losses, 30,000 killed; dead through famine, 360,000; executed by Germans and Italians, 43,000; executed by Bulgarians, 25,000; hostages, 45,000; homeless, 1,200,000; towns, villages ruined, 3,700. By the end of the war the Greek population was reduced by 7 percent. All that was left of the Greek Army that had beaten Italy were a few battalions mustered in the Middle East. The navy was destroyed, but sailors fought on in ships provided by the British. The air force was also destroyed, but airmen likewise fought in British planes.

On the economic side, inflation scientifically planned by the Germans ruined the monetary system. In 1939 the national wealth and national income were reckoned to be $3.4 billion and $510,400,000 respectively. In 1944 they were estimated at $1,456,000,000 and $217,600,000. The damage to the industrial plant is estimated at $40,000,000. The Greek merchant marine, which ranked ninth in the world with a total of 1,697,986 tons and was the main source of the nation's foreign exchange, was almost completely wiped out; over a million tons were sent to the bottom. Rolling stock, too, was almost totally destroyed; and 60 percent of the railroad tracks, 60 percent of the telephones, 75 percent of the telegraph wires and installations were wrecked. All big bridges and tunnels, which can be replaced only at tremendous cost, were utterly demolished, and 60 percent of the roads were rendered impassable by demolition. Harbor installations were destroyed in toto. [my emphasis in bold]
So when some Greeks have grumped that the Germans owed them reparations for the damage of the Second World War, some of them probably aren't kidding.

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