Germany Denies Any Knowledge of 1952 Reparations Commitment

German government officials have denied knowledge of any commitment to pay billions in reparations to Israel as the successor state to former East Germany.

They said financial strains in united Germany would make it very difficult to commit to any major payments beyond Bonn’s obligations under the existing reparations agreement with Israel.

But the government is ready to deal with any request that might be put forward by Jerusalem, officials said.

Their comments came in response to reports that a World Jewish Congress official said a newly uncovered document showed negotiators for West Germany agreed in 1952 that Germany as a whole owed Israel 4.5 billion marks in reparations for Jewish victims of the Nazis.

Bonn at the time took responsibility for paying 3 billion and held that the then-Communist government of East Germany was responsible for the remainder.

Reunited Germany now has the obligation to pay the 1.5 million mark obligation that was never recognized by East Germany, WJC Vice President Kalman Sultanik was quoted as saying.

Interest and inflation factors over four decades would bring the sum to billions of dollars.

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