Nearly 75 years after the second world war, Germany is still paying monthly pensions to collaborators of the wartime Nazi regime in several European countries including Belgium and Britain, according to Belgian MPs and media reports.
The foreign affairs committee of the Belgian parliament this week voted in favour of a resolution urging the German federal government to put an immediate stop to the payments and publish a full list of those receiving them.
“The receipt of pensions for collaborating with one of the most murderous regimes in history is in clear contradiction to the work of remembrance and for peace constituted in the European project,” states the resolution, which was passed unanimously.
The document said nearly 30 people in Belgium are still receiving the payments under a decree by Adolf Hitler granting the same nationality and pension rights as German citizens to foreigners, including Waffen-SS volunteers, from Nazi-occupied territories who pledged “allegiance, fidelity, loyalty and obedience” to the Führer.
Responding to the claims, the Germany labour ministry said 18 people in Belgium were receiving war pensions but “there are no former members of the Waffen-SS” among them. It did not name the pensioners or say on what grounds they were entitled to the payments.
Authorities in Belgium were not aware of the pensioners’ identities, the Belgian MPs (Olivier Maingain, Stephane Crusnière, Véronique Caprasse and Daniel Senesael) said, adding that the situation was “the same in the UK, where former SS people also receive payments directly from the German länder [states] without the amounts being taxed or communicated to the British authorities”. The German embassy in London said it did not have any information about the Belgian allegations.
The Belgian state broadcaster, RTBF, said similar payments were also being made in Spain, Sweden and Switzerland. In the Netherlands, historian Cees Kleijn has said war criminals may be among 34 former Nazi collaborators receiving German government pensions, according to the state broadcaster NOS.