(Own report) - The #Jewish
and the " #Train
are demanding, in a joint letter addressed to the Board of Management of the #Deutsche
AG (DB AG), that the receipts extorted from #Greece
during the #anti-Semitic
of the " #Reichsbahn"
be reimbursed. In 1943, the State-owned railway company had collected through its complicity in the #mass
of more than 58,000 Jewish Greeks, more than 2 million reichsmark in ticket fares. This money found its way into the coffers of the #German
and has #never
. The Jewish Community of Thessaloniki and the "Train of Commemoration" have calculated the debt - including the 72 years of accumulated interests - to be more than 89 million Euros. The debtors are the DB AG and the Federal Republic of #Germany
. The joint open letter of the #Greek-German
cooperation partners accuses Berlin of withholding money obtained through crimes against humanity. The "Train of Commemoration" calls for launching an international appeal to add emphasis to their joint initiative. The joint letter is in answer to the German state's decades of refusing to acknowledge and settle its debts arising from the #anti-Semitic
committed in Greece. Already during the post-war period, the Federal Republic of #Germany
had either rejected the demands or sought to shortchange the few survivors with beggars' handouts. Therefore the Jewish Community of Thessaloniki, found it necessary to make a lawsuit before the #European
in 2014. The court in Strasbourg declared this was "not within its jurisdiction." (german-foreign-policy.com reported.)
occupiers carried out ##anti-Semitic
operations throughout Greece, victimizing even the inhabitants of the numerous #Mediterranean
islands such as #Rhodes
; and #Corfu
. In #Ioannina
, on the #mainland
, various means of persecution had been used - all of them fatal. The #German
state and its #repressive
were particularly radical in Thessaloniki. In Greece's second largest city, more than 48,000 residents had been registered as "Jews," of whom approx. 10,000 were condemned to #slave
on roadways or in quarries. To buy their freedom, the Jewish Community had paid a ransom of 1.9 billion Drachma (approx. US $69 million, in today's values, interest not included). Once this enormous sum - mainly in the form of gold - had been handed over to the #German
, the slave laborers were set free - but within a few months taken again into custody, this time for the "trip eastward."
Between March and August 1943, the " #Reichsbahn
made at least 570 #freight
available" for the transport. All of the city's available Jewish residents were deported to #Auschwitz
. Among those 58,000, who were doomed "at least 12,000 were children and adolescents. The victims faced immediate death in the #gas
. Only few survived." Upon departure in Thessaloniki, they had to show their group tickets, purchased individually or collectively. One of the survivors described how the sale of tickets had "had a calming effect, raising his hopes that deportation would not end in death." According to calculations of an expertise published by the "Train of Commemoration" back in 2009, the "Reichsbahn" and the #German
state made millions in Greece through their #anti-Semitic
. With the accumulated 72 years of interests (at 2.5%), the Jewish Community of Thessaloniki and the "Train of Commemoration" are raising claims that the heirs of the culprits reimburse 89,455,280.00 Euros.
The open letter points out that the #Deutsche
AG and the #German
have legal obligations. Should the debtors in #Berlin
refuse to reimburse and should confiscation lawsuits prove unsuccessful in Greece due to objections of the Ministry of Justice in #Athens
, the claimants may still retrieve their money in #Italy
, the open letter explains with reference to a verdict handed down by Italy's highest constitutional court. In October 2014, the court ruled that it is permissible also for foreigners to sue the Federal Republic of #Germany
, when it concerns #crimes
, even if the lawsuit is not possible in their homeland.
As the "Train of Commemoration" and the Jewish Community of Thessaloniki imply in their open letter, there are also other possible means to apply pressure on the #DB
AG and its proprietor, especially in the #USA
, where the #DB
AG and its " #DB
logistics subsidiary is operating. "DB Schenker" contributes nearly 50 percent of the DB AG's overall annual receipts (in 2013 around 20 billion Euros). According to the open letter, until now, "Schenker's" historical background has not drawn much attention in the #USA
. Between 1938 and 1945, " #Schenker
," along with the " #Reichsbahn
," had been significantly active in #mass
, and #plunder
- in #Greece
as well. In the #USA
, and #Poland
, "Schenker" had been well known for its diversionary and espionage activities in the interests of #Germany
. As was confirmed by an expertise, at german-foreign-policy.com's disposal, "Schenker" engaged in Aryanisation, both domestically and abroad, and provided a civilian cloak for carrying out plans for subversion and regime change throughout Europe.
The French Model
open letter suggests that the #DB
AG and the #German
government orient themselves on the results of the current accord reached between the French state-owned railway, the #SNCF
de fer #Français)
in the #USA
. They are #emigrated
survivors of the #German
mass deportations from France, who, with the complicity of the #SNCF
, were taken to the German border, from where the " #Reichsbahn"
transported them to #Auschwitz
. After years of denial and threatened with being banned from the US market, SNCF acknowledged in December 2014 its complicity and placed US $100 million at the disposal of the victims and their heirs. In addition, the SNCF also pays - independent of this accord - civil society organizations, museums, and memorials another four million US dollars, to support commemoration activities.
The French model differs fundamentally from previously known #German
attempts to avoid full and unconditional compensation for debts resulting from crimes. In 2010, the #DB
AG yielded to the pressure of eastern #European
organizations, which had used the expertise compiled by the "Train of Commemoration" for their compensation claims. Following a humiliating tug-of-war negotiations with the German side, which divided the camp of the survivors, Berlin offered the survivors beggars' handouts: 25 Euros for each survivor of the Reichsbahn's deportation, according to calculations made by the "Train of Commemoration." Moreover, the payments appear to be linked to the DB doing business in Poland. Instead of paying the victims this meager sum, at least in full and immediately, it was transferred to a federal agency, the Foundation "Remembrance, Responsibility and Future" (EVZ), which used a portion of this money to cover its administrative costs. Victims could file "applications" at the EVZ. This procedure turned the heirs of the culprits into philanthropic benefactors and debts into charity donations. The Ukrainian, Belarus, and Russian survivors of the Reichsbahn's deportations protested their humiliation at being treated like beggars.
Currently, the #German
is trying to obliterate and - even to invert - the historical relationship of the German state, as #debtor
, and the Greek victims, as creditors. A "German-Greek Future Fund," established unilaterally by Berlin is claiming titular co-sponsorship of Greek civil society, which knew nothing of this "Future Fund" until the German foreign ministry began attracting unemployed Greeks to participate in "projects" at the lowest possible remuneration. (german-foreign-policy.com reported.) These macabre foreign ministry's "Future Fund"-financed "projects" include the development of a cell phone app for tourists to search for the remnants of Thessaloniki's Jewish community. This is how the German state stands aloof of Germany's crimes, virtually dissipating and relegating them to history, without ever having settled the debt they left behind. This is why Thessaloniki's Jewish community must take #Berlin
app is neither an #isolated
case nor an aberration. The foreign ministry systematically pursues a "culture of remembrance" based on aesthetical performance rather than material atonement. From the "Future Fund" the foreign ministry pays fees for jazz tours. The "Songs for Kommeno," a martyred Greek village, is meant to impress the local population and demonstrate German compassion. According to the foreign ministry's webpage, #Berlin
promotes artistic activities aimed at "coming to grips with the #horrors
of the #war"
- always following the same pattern: Berlin refuses to pay for the concrete crimes committed during the war, which dissipate as abstract horror or in a cell phone app. To pursue this strategy as smoothly as possible, the foreign ministry is financing opinion-forming milieus of both countries and the well-intentioned cultural contributions are being appropriated by the state. They serve to neutralize the victims' legal claims. Opposition politicians in Germany are also campaigning for "foundations," such as "Remembrance, Responsibility and Future" ( #EVZ)
, a state financed foundation, which promotes a future without paying for the past.
However, the "Train of Commemoration" and the Jewish Community of Thessaloniki are demanding that these debts be paid in full and unconditionally. As noted in their letter to the #DB
AG and the #German
, a prominent member of the #German-Greek
working group, serving as their legal advisor, had accomplished, in the 1990s, that #Swiss
opened their secret #Holocaust
accounts. At that time, the head of the negotiations was Stuart E. Eizenstat, the special emissary of the #US
To avoid, if possible, the route of a lawsuit and to motivate the German government to acquiesce, the "Train of Commemoration" is calling for an international appeal to be launched. "We hope that this emphasis from the German and international civil society can convince the German government to reach a consensual agreement." german-foreign-policy.com supports this appeal, which can be signed at the link: www.zug-der-erinnerung.eu.
german-foreign-policy.com publishes the joint letter here. See Domino Effect. Thessaloniki will Lösegeld zurück. www.juedische-allgemeine.de 25.02.2014. "Vollständige Rückzahlung der Mordeinnahmen aus NS-Massendeportationen jetzt." Zug der Erinnerung e.V. Pressemitteilung No. 02-15. April 2015. Spuren der Geschichte - Die jüdische Gemeinde von Salonika - das Jerusalem des Balkans. Die Internationale Schule für Holocaust-Studien. www.yadvashem.org. Gutachten über die unter der NS-Diktatur erzielten Einnahmen aus Transportleistungen zur Verbringung von Personen aus dem Deutschen Reich und dem okkupierten Europa in Konzentrationslager und ähnliche Einrichtungen. Zug der Erinnerung e.V., 2009. Italien ist in guter Verfassung. www.juedische-allgemeine.de 30.10.2014. Deal zu Lasten der NS-Opfer. Zug der Erinnerung e.V. Pressemitteilung 17-10 vom 14.12.2010. Zug der Erinnerung e.V. und Jüdische Gemeinde von Thessaloniki. Schreiben an Deutsche Bahn AG, April 2015. See Among Vultures. App für die Erinnerung. www.sueddeutsche.de 17.04.2015. Griechische und deutsche Künstler - gemeinsam gegen das Vergessen. www.griechenland.diplo.de. Künast fordert Stiftung für griechische Nazi-Opfer. www.spiegel.de 19.03.2015. Vgl. Stuart E. Eizenstat: Unvollkommene Gerechtigkeit. München 2003. Zug der Erinnerung e.V. Mündliche Stellungnahme vom 21.04.2015.