The World Jewish Congress urged Germany to address a request by the Greek Jewish community of Thessaloniki to be paid back for a ransom it had surrendered to the Nazis when they occupied Greece during the Second World War.
In 1942, the Greek Jewish community paid 1.9 billion drachmas (about $61 million in today’s money) to a Nazi commander for the release of about 10,000 Jews who were forced to perform hard labor on roads and railroads. About 50,000 Thessaloniki Jews were killed during the Holocaust.
The Jewish community of Thessaloniki first brought the request to return the money before Greek courts in 2007. This year, the Jewish community is suing Germany over the issue in the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, although Germany’s Finance Ministry has so far rejected the request.
“Surely the German government, which has settled so many Holocaust-era claims righteously, can find a resolution for this claim, which the Jewish community of Thessaloniki in Greece has pressed for decades and is extensively documented,” World Jewish Congress President Ronald S. Lauder said Tuesday. “As German President Joachim Gauck makes an official visit to Greece this week, now is the time to bring closure to this episode.”