Swastika (illustration)
Swastika (illustration)Thinkstock

The German government has continued to pay pensions to Spaniards who volunteered to fight for the Nazis during World War II, the British Telegraph newspaper revealed on Thursday.

According to the newspaper, Berlin is still honoring an agreement made with the Spanish dictator Francisco Franco, whose regime encouraged volunteers to sign up to fight for Adolf Hitler against Communist Russia between 1941 and 1943.

In a written reply to a parliamentary question by left-wing MP Andrej Hunko, Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government admitted that it was still paying out over €100,000 a year in pensions to survivors and relatives of troops from the so-called Blue Division, in whose ranks Spanish volunteers fought on the Eastern Front.

The current annual bill to German taxpayers stands at €107,352, which is granted to 41 veterans who were wounded while fighting for the Nazis, eight widows of former fighters, and one orphan of a Blue Division volunteer, noted the Telegraph.

Hunko, a member of Germany’s The Left (Die Linke) party, said it was “a scandal that 70 years after the war, Germany is still paying more than €100,000 a year to Nazi collaborators”.

"At that time, those people volunteered to join the German fascists to fight on their side in the war of extermination in eastern Europe. For me it is incomprehensible that the German government should stick to those payments when so many victims of the war are still waiting today for their rightful compensation," he added, according to the Telegraph.

The agreement to pay pensions to Blue Division veterans was made between Franco’s government and the Federal Republic of Germany in 1962, the newspaper said.

The written answer to Hunko said that 22,000 Blue Division members were either killed, wounded or declared missing in action during the war, without dividing the different groups of casualties. Other estimates put Spanish dead on the Eastern Front at around 5,000.

The revelation follows a similar one last year in the United States, where TheAssociated Press exposed that dozens of suspected Nazis, including at least four living beneficiaries, received millions of dollars in benefits over the years due to legal loopholes.

The House of Representatives later unanimously approved a bill that closes these loopholes and stipulates that Nazis should not get Social Security benefits.