World War II reparations
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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. First provisionally but later finally, Germany ceded a quarter of its territory as defined by its 1937 borders to Poland and the Soviet Union. Other Axis nations were obliged to pay war reparations according to the Paris Peace Treaties, 1947.
An early plan for a post-war Germany was the Morgenthau plan, with terms that would have essentially transformed Germany into an agrarian society. The French Monnet Plan would have transferred the Ruhr Area to France. This position was completely eliminated by the London Agreement on German External Debts, also known as the London Debt Agreement (German: Londoner Schuldenabkommen) of 1953.
According to the Yalta Conference, no reparations to Allied countries would be paid in money. Instead much of the value transferred consisted of German industrial assets as well as forced labour to the Allies. The Allied demands were further outlined during the Potsdam Conference. Reparations were to be directly paid to the four victor powers (France, Britain, USA and the Soviet Union); for the countries in the Soviet sphere of influence, the Soviet Union would determine its distribution.
Annexation of territories
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 communist Poland and the Soviet Union respectively and resettled with citizens of these countries, pending a final peace conference with Germany. Since a peace conference never took place, the areas were effectively ceded by Germany. In the case of Poland, the acquired territory was a compensation for the Eastern Borderlands annexed by the Soviet Union, which lands had been assigned to Poland as a result of the Peace of Riga in 1921.
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 1 January 1957.
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. Similar annexations have been conducted by Belgium as well as Luxembourg. Most of these territories were also returned after German compensation payments.
Dismantling of industries
At the beginning of the occupation, the Allies dismantled the remnants of German industries. Plants and machinery were dismantled, the railroad system deconstructed and everything transported to the Allies. The German merchant fleet and all other ships were handed over. Foreign stocks of about 2.5 billion dollars were confiscated. The remaining German industries had to give up a share of their production to the Allies. Large shipments of steel, coal, but also other industrial production were seized and transported out of the country. Later the Western Allies softened their stance in favour of the Marshall Plan, while Eastern Germany continued to deliver industrial goods and raw materials to the Soviet Union until 1953.
Millions of Germans were pressed into forced labour for several years to work for the Allies in camps, mining, harvesting or industry.
After World War II ended, the main four Allied powers – Great Britain, The United States, France, and the Soviet Union – jointly occupied Germany, with the Allied occupation officially ending in the 1950s. During this time, Germany was held accountable for the Allied occupation’s expenses, amounting to over several billion dollars.
Germany concluded a variety of treaties with Western and Eastern countries as well as the Jewish Claims Conference and the World Jewish Congress to compensate the victims of the Holocaust. Until 2005 about 63 billion euros have been paid to individuals. Additional payments by German companies which exploited forced workers have been made.
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 (17.07% of its citizens during the war). Material recompensation incurred by Germany has been estimated as approximately €1.5 billion to 2006 exchange values, which equals to about 2% of all material losses of Poland, not including enormous loss of human population of about 6 million people.[circular reference][circular reference] For these reasons, Poland still remains the country that received the least reparation relative to the damage incurred.
On 23 August 1953, the Soviet-imposed communist Polish regime, under pressure and control of 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. In turn, East Germany had to accept the Oder-Neisse border, which gave around one quarter of Germany's 1937 borders (see Former eastern territories of Germany) to Poland and Russia. West Germany had yet to pay reparations to non-Jewish recipients for the damage inflicted in Poland. In 1972, West Germany paid compensation to Poles that had survived pseudo-medical experiments during their imprisonment in various Nazi camps during the Second World War. In 1975, the Gierek-Schmidt agreement was signed in Warsaw. It stipulated that 1.3 billion DM was to be paid to Poles who, during Nazi occupation, had paid into the German social security system but received no pension.
After German reunification in 1990, 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 stipulated in the Potsdam Agreement and the aforementioned 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 approximately 4.7 billion zł. Between 1992 and 2006, Germany and Austria jointly paid compensation to surviving Polish, non-Jewish victims of slave labour in Nazi Germany and also to Polish orphans and children who had been subject to forced labour. The Swiss Fund for the Victims of the Holocaust paid compensation between 1998 and 2002 to Polish Jews and Romani who were victims of Nazi Germany. There is an ongoing debate among Polish international law experts whether Poland still has the right to demand war reparations, with many arguing that the 1954 declaration was not legal as Poland was not a sovereign state. Furthermore, the 1954 declaration only applied to the former state East Germany and not West Germany.
The reparation issue arose again in 2017 with comments made by Polish government officials from the Law and Justice party. According to a statement made by the German government on the issue, the issue was resolved in 1953 as Poland had declined to continue receiving any payments from East Germany. This claim is countered by Polish commentators who stated that the then Polish government was under the sway of the Soviet Union and that its 1953 refusal is non-binding.
In my opinion, Poland has the right to this (reparations) and the Polish state has the right to ask for them.
Poland resigned from reparations in 1953 and had since repeatedly confirmed this. There is no reason to question the effectiveness of the 1953 resignation.
Jarosław Kaczyński, leader of the Law and Justice party, has continuously made statements on the reparations issue from the beginning. Sigmar Gabriel, Foreign Minister of Germany rejected the reparations issue again on behalf of the German government.
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%) [Scholarly sources required.]  and loss of civilian life (7.02–11.17% of its citizens). Other sources put the total number of deaths resulting from the Axis occupation at 273,000 to 747,000 Greeks, or 3.7-10.2% of the prewar population. The occupying Nazi regime forced Greece to pay the cost of the 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 lend 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. 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. For Germany the issue of reparations has been settled with this agreement. On 8 February 2015, the then Greek Prime Minister, Alexis Tsipras demanded that Germany pay the "complete" reparations to Greece. On 6 April 2015, Greece now evaluated the war reparations to be the equivalent of 279 billion euros. The German government replied that the stipulations of the Two Plus Four treaty still stand and the issue was resolved in 1990. On July 2019, however, a parliamentary committee in the Bundestag, Germany's parliament, suggested that the German government can no longer “escape the historical responsibility” of the damages it caused during World War II towards Greece, and that the issue should be resolved by taking it to the International Court of Justice.
On September 2019, The Supreme Court of Italy, in a landmark ruling of this kind, ordered for the confiscation of the income generated by Germany's possessions in Italy, and this to be given as war reparation to the nazi war crime victims of Distomo, a village in Greece.
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.
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.
The Soviet Union received compensation under the Paris Peace Treaty in 1947 from four Axis allied powers, in addition to the large reparations paid to the Soviet Union by the Soviet Occupation Zone in Germany and the eventual German Democratic Republic in the form of machinery (entire factories were dismantled and shipped to the Soviet Union) as well as food, industrial products, and consumer goods. The USSR was owed $100 million from Italy, $300 million from Finland, $200 million from Hungary, and $300 million from Romania.
- World War I reparations
- Allied-occupied Germany
- Flight and expulsion of Germans (1944–50)
- Morgenthau plan
- International Authority for the Ruhr
- Allied plans for German industry after World War II
- Operation Osoaviakhim
- Operation Paperclip
- London Agreement on German External Debts
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- Polish material losses during World War II
- World War II casualties#Human losses by country
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[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.
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