World War II reparations

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Division of Germany as of the Potsdam Conference, with the white coloured territory being ceded, not occupied.

After World War II, both West Germany and East Germany were obliged to pay war reparations to the Allied governments, according to the Potsdam Conference. Other Axis nations were obliged to pay war reparations according to the Paris Peace Treaties, 1947.[citation needed]

Early propositions[edit]

An early plan for a post-war Germany was the Morgenthau plan with terms that would have essentially transformed Germany to an agrarian society. The French Monnet Plan would have transferred the Ruhr Area to France. This position was completely changed by the London Agreement on German External Debts, also known as the London Debt Agreement (German: Londoner Schuldenabkommen) of 1953.



Excerpt Akte R 27320, page 114 (political archive of the German Federal Foreign Office)

As a result of the Nazi German occupation, much of Greece was subjected to enormous destruction of its industry (80% of which was destroyed), infrastructure (28% destroyed), ports, roads, railways and bridges (90%), forests and other natural resources (25%)[1][2][3] and loss of civilian life (7.02% - 11.17% of its citizens).[4][5] The occupying Nazi regime forced Greece to pay the cost of the Nazi occupation in the country and requisite raw materials and food for the occupation forces, creating the conditions for the Great Famine. Furthermore, in 1942, the Greek Central Bank was forced by the occupying Nazi regime to loan 476 million Reichsmarks at 0% interest to Nazi Germany.

After the war, in 1960, Greece accepted 115 million Marks from West Germany as compensation for Nazi crimes. Nevertheless, past Greek governments have insisted that this was only a down-payment, not complete reparations.[6] In 1990, immediately prior to German reunification, West Germany and East Germany signed the Two Plus Four Agreement with the former Allied countries of the United States, United Kingdom, France, and the Soviet Union, but not Greece. Since that time, Germany has unilaterally insisted that all matters concerning World War II, including further reparations to Greece, are closed. On February 8, 2015, the Greek Prime Minister, Alexis Tsipras demanded that Germany pay the complete reparations to Greece.[7] On April 6, 2015, Greece evaluated the war reparations to be the equivalent of 279 billion euros. Germany replied that the reparations issue was resolved in 1990.[8]


West Germany paid reparations to Israel and the World Jewish Congress for confiscated Jewish property under Nuremberg laws, forced labour and persecution. However, no reparations were paid for killed Jews during the Holocaust. The German Government continues to pay reparations to Israel to this day.[citation needed]

The Netherlands[edit]

The Netherlands demanded reparations, but later desired to annex a large part of German territory. They eventually annexed 69 km2 in 1949, bought back by West Germany in 1960.


As a consequence of aggression by Nazi Germany, much of Poland was subjected to enormous destruction of its industry (62% of which was destroyed), its infrastructure (84%) and loss of civilian life (16.7% of its citizens during the war- 10% of them Jews). Material recompensation incurred by Germany has been estimated as approximately €525 billion or $640 billion in 2004 exchange values.[9] On 23 August 1953, the Communist People's Republic of Poland under pressure from the Soviet Union announced it would unilaterally waive its right to war reparations from East Germany on 1 January 1954, with the exception of reparations for Nazi oppression and atrocities. East Germany in turn had to accept the Oder-Neisse border, which gave around 1/4 of Germany's historic territory to Poland and Russia. West Germany hadn't paid reparations to non-Jewish recipients for the damage inflicted in Poland. Gierek-Schmidt agreement signed in 1975 in Warsaw, stipulated that 1.3 billion DM will be paid to Poles who, during Nazi occupation, had paid into Germany's social security system without receiving pension.[10]

After German reunification, Poland demanded reparations again, as a reaction to claims made by German refugee organizations demanding compensation for property and land repossessed by the new Polish state that they were forcibly deported from as a stipulation of the Potsdam Agreement and the priorly mentioned Oder-Neisse border. In 1992, the Foundation for Polish-German Reconciliation was founded by the Polish and German governments, and as a result Germany paid Polish sufferers ca. 4.7 billion . There is an ongoing debate among Polish international law experts if Poland still has the right to demand war reparations, with some arguing that the 1954 declaration wasn't legal.[11]

According to a statement made by the German government in 2017, the reparations issue was resolved in 1953 as Poland declined receiving any payments from Germany, though the claim is often countered by the fact that then Polish government was under heavy pressure from the Soviet Union. Thus, the refusal is cited by some to be non-binding. [12]


The Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia received a value of US$36 million, in industrial equipment from the dismantled German factories. West Germany also paid 8 million German marks as reparations for forced human experimentation on Yugoslav citizens.

Soviet Union[edit]

Roma/Sinti people[edit]

No reparations were paid by Germany to the Roma people.

Other countries who were not subject to German reparations[edit]

  • Czechoslovakia
  • Denmark
  • UK or Commonwealth countries
  • Norway
  • Finland
  • Austria
  • Luxembourg
  • Belgium

Other forms of payment[edit]

According to the Yalta Conference, no reparations to Allied countries would be paid in money. Instead, much of this value consisted of German industrial assets, as well as forced labour.[13]

Annexation of territories[edit]

Poland and the Soviet Union annexed the German territories east of the Oder-Neisse, leading to the expulsion of 12 million Germans. These territories were incorporated into Poland and the Soviet Union respectively and resettled with citizens of these countries. In the case of Poland, the majority of settlers were people expelled from eastern Polish teritories annexed by the Soviet Union.

France controlled the Saar protectorate from 1947 to 1956, with the intention of using its coal deposits and possibly annexing the region to France permanently. The same mines had been under French control from the end of the First World War until 1935. Following the results of a plebiscite, France had to relinquish its control of the Saar region on January 1, 1957, however it continued to extract coal from the area's mines until 1981.

The Netherlands annexed approximately 69 km2 of German territory in 1949, nearly all of which was given back to the West Germany Government in 1957. Under the Dutch-German treaty made in The Hague on 8 April 1960, West Germany agreed to pay to The Netherlands the sum of 280 million German marks in compensation for the return.

Dismantling of industries[edit]

At the beginning of the occupation, the Allies started dismantling the remnants of German industries. The Western Allies later abandoned this plan in favour of the Marshall Plan.

Intellectual property[edit]

The Allies confiscated significant values of German patents, copyrights and trademarks.

Forced labour[edit]

See German prisoners of war in the Soviet Union, Forced labor of Germans in the Soviet Union and Forced labor of Germans after World War II.

See also[edit]


  1. ^
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^ "Council for Reparations from Germany, ''Black Book of the Occupation''(In Greek and German) Athens 2006 p. 1018-1019" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2011-07-21. Retrieved 2011-06-15. 
  5. ^ Gregory, Frumkin. Population Changes in Europe Since 1939, Geneva 1951. pp. 89-91
  6. ^ Nikos Christodoulakis (2014). Germany’s War Debt to Greece: A Burden Unsettled. Palgrave Macmillan. p. 13. ISBN 9781137441959. [A] Special Report published by the Bank of Greece in 1962[...] specified the amount outstanding to be [...] more than tenfold the sum dispensed by Germany. 
  7. ^ "Payback time? Greek PM seeks reparations over Nazi occupation & war-time loan". Russia Today. 8 February 2015. Retrieved 7 April 2015. 
  8. ^ "Greece Nazi occupation: Athens asks Germany for 279bn euros". BBC News. 7 April 2015. Retrieved 7 April 2015. 
  9. ^ [1]
  10. ^ [2] Reluctant Realists: The Christian Democrats and West German Ostpolitik, Clay Clemens Duke University Press Books (July 27, 1989) Page 160.
  11. ^ [3] Sprawy Międzynarodowe, 2005, nr 1 Problem reparacji, odszkodowań i świadczeń w stosunkach polsko-niemieckich 1944–2004. Tom I – Witold M. Góralski (red. naukowa): Studia, str. 427; tom II – Sławomir Dębski, Witold M. Góralski: Dokumenty, str. 621. Polski Instytut Spraw Międzynarodowych. Warszawa 2004
  12. ^
  13. ^ Pavel Polian-Against Their Will: The History and Geography of Forced Migrations in the USSR Central European University Press 2003 ISBN 963-9241-68-7 P.244-249