Germany questions Greek stance on Distomo

German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle appeared frustrated on Wednesday with the Greek government?s decision to support relatives of dozens of victims of a massacre in a village north of Athens during World War II in their claim for compensation from Germany at a trial at the International Court of Justice in The Hague.

“I have simply no understanding of the decision of the Greek government,» he said in a statement. «In Germany, we know our responsibility for our history. And we also know about the particular suffering of the Greek people in World War II.”

Westerwelle said Berlin was confident the ICJ would rule in its favour. «In terms of lawsuits against Germany, we expect internationally recognised principles of law and particularly Germany’s immunity as a state to be respected,» he said. «If this principle is undermined, the community of nations could face legal insecurity.”

Greek and Italian courts have ruled in favor of the families of the 218 men and women killed by Nazi troops in the central Greek village in June 1944 but Berlin has appealed this decision at the ICJ.