Senior German politicians have acknowledged that the country should pay reparations to Greece for damage inflicted by the Nazis during their occupation of the country in World War II. Former presidential candidate and Social Democratic chairwoman Gesine Schwan acknowledged Germany's debt to the victims of Nazi tyranny.

"We should make a financial approach to victims and their families. It would be good for us Germans to sweep up after ourselves in terms of our history. Victims and descendants have longer memories than perpetrators and descendants," Schwan told Der Spiegel.

The claims come after Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said that Germany was yet to make full amends for the damage it had caused to Greece during its 1941-1944 occupation. He argued that reparation payments could help Greece ward off bankruptcy as it struggles to repay its German-backed bailout loans.

The German Social Democrats deputy leader, Ralf Stegner, agreed that the issue needed to be discussed, but independently to that of Greek loan repayments. "We must have a discussion about reparations. After decades, there are still international legal questions to be resolved," Stegner told Der Spiegel.

The Social Democrats are the second largest party in Germany, and share power with Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democratic Union and the Christian Social Union.

Anton Hofreiter, the parliamentary leader of the Green party, said: "Germany cannot just sweep Greece's demand off the table. This chapter is not closed, neither from a moral nor legal standpoint." He added Merkel's government would be "well advised to seek a solution".

Senior member's of Ms Merkel's cabinet have previously insisted that the terms of Germany's war reparations cannot be renegotiated. They argue that Germany made financial reparation to occupied countries in 1969, with a payment of €58m (£42m) made to countries including Greece.

However, Greece argues that the payment covered only reparations to individual victims, and did not take into account damage to Greece's infrastructure and economy, including credits Greek banks were forced to make to Germany to the equivalent €8bn and €11bn (£5.75bn and £8bn).