Unlike the celebration, a few days ago, of NATO’s 70th anniversary and all the publicity which surrounded it, the same milestone in time since the declaration of the Marshall Plan, had, a couple of years ago, passed almost unnoticed. And yet, if NATO proved so solid a shield to Soviet military might, it was the flow of Marshall Plan aid which did ―to a great extent at least―, prevent conditions of enduring misery to prevail in many a European country in ruins, and feed the growth of local communist movements.
But the Marshal Plan was meant to serve a purpose of equally cardinal importance. It had also been offered en lieux of German war reparations, in order to relieve an emerging Federal Republic of Germany, oriented to liberal democracy, of the same burden which had so painfully tormented the Weimar Republic for long years after the end of WWI, adding to the causes of its collapse, under National-Socialism. That collateral objective, even if not formally stipulated, had been well explained to all. It was clear to all, that countries invaded and occupied by Germany during the war, acquiescing to be included in the Marshall Plan, were tacitly relinquishing their claim to be further indemnified by the Federal Republic, beyond what several of them, including Greece, had already received ―mainly shipments of German industrial equipment.
Thus, no European country, this side of the Iron Curtain has, ever since, claimed or received anything by way of reparations of war. Only Central and Eastern European countries have, as being, then, under Soviet domination, had rejected the offer of the Marshall Plan. But, that the latter had, definitively, exonerated Germany as to the payment of reparations of war, was well understood by all in the West. Or, as it appears, by all but one: Greece.
The theme of the reparations had always been popular among Greek extreme leftists and for obvious reasons: first and foremost, to shake faith in the post war world order in general, and in the established “bourgeois” political parties in Greece, in particular, who had “given away” such a “vital national claim”.
However, even conservative, liberal, and social-democratic Greek governments, in the course of past decades, admitting, as they were, that the issue could no longer be effectively raised, they would, always, fail to recognize, explicitly, that Greece had already been indemnified via the Marshall Plan. Instead, they would all prefer to put the blame, for the “loss”, on various bilateral arrangements, agreed to by their predecessors…
Never, though, had this issue been more aggressively, more vociferously, and more demagogically, exploited in the past than by the present Greek government. They have presented it as a main point of policy and never seized agitating upon it.
The charade of the “Parliamentary Commission on the German Reparations of War” formed and presided by the Speaker of the Parliament in 2015 ―a theatrical happening of hilarious surrealism―, will not easily be forgotten. It is true, of course, that similar noises have, somewhat, dwindled since the unconditional surrender of the Prime Minister in July of that year, after six disastrously costly months of naïve attempts at extorting the E.U. ―“The defeat of the undefeated” as Mr. Varoufakis describes it in his prose.
But the issue of the reparations is still there; in reserve; to be relaunched as soon as the opportunity ―or the expediency― presents itself. It has even been aired again ―albeit briefly ―, some months ago.
NATO’s anniversary is an excellent opportunity for someone to inform us, at long last, that 72 years ago Greece gave up, for ever, her claim to any German reparations of war and has, instead, received massive Marshall Plan aid, exactly as did all other countries occupied by Germany during WWII, but not by the USSR at the end of it.