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Leonid Bershidsky

How Germany Should Respond to $1.2 Trillion Reparations Claims

Berlin can ignore Poland and Greece's demands for reparations, but it should pay heed to their calls for more altruism.

A glass dome sits on top of the Reichstag building.

A glass dome sits on top of the Reichstag building.

Photographer: Krisztian Bocsi/Bloomberg

Greece and Poland are stepping up their demands for Germany to pay reparations for World War II. This may appear to be little more than an attempt to pander to domestic voters. But, in fact, it’s an effort to ground in history their calls for Europe’s largest economy to show more altruism toward its poorer allies. Berlin should heed this pressure, if not the actual demand for money.

On Tuesday, Greece formally asked Germany to negotiate reparations for the Axis powers’ invasion of 1941 to 1944. In 2016, parliamentarians put the minimum amount due at 292 billion euros ($330 billion).