World War I
Germany agreed to pay reparations of 132 billion gold marks to the Triple Entente in the Treaty of Versailles, which were then cancelled in 1932 with Germany only having paid a part of the sum. This still left Germany with debts it had incurred in order to finance the reparations, and these were revised by the Agreement on German External Debts in 1953. After another pause pending the reunification of Germany, the last installment of these debt repayments was paid on 3 October 2010.
World War II
During World War II, Germany extracted payments from occupied countries and compelled loans. In addition, countries were obliged to provide resources, and forced labour.
After World War II, according to the Potsdam conference held between July 17 and August 2, 1945, Germany was to pay the Allies US$23 billion mainly in machinery and manufacturing plants. Reparations to the Soviet Union stopped in 1953. Large numbers of factories were dismantled or destroyed. Dismantling in the west stopped in 1950.
Beginning before the German surrender and continuing for the next two years, the United States pursued a vigorous program of harvesting all technological and scientific know-how as well as all patents and many leading scientists in Germany (known as Operation Paperclip). Historian John Gimbel, in his book Science Technology and Reparations: Exploitation and Plunder in Postwar Germany, states that the “intellectual reparations” taken by the U.S. and the UK amounted to close to $10 billion. German reparations were partly to be in the form of forced labor. By 1947, approximately 4,000,000 German POWs and civilians were used as forced labor (under various headings, such as “reparations labor” or “enforced labor”) in the Soviet Union, France, the UK, Belgium and in Germany in U.S run “Military Labor Service Units”.
The East German economy began poorly because of the devastation caused by the Second World War; the loss of so many young soldiers, the disruption of business and transportation, and finally reparations owed to the USSR. The Red Army dismantled and transported to Russia the infrastructure and industrial plants of the Soviet Zone of Occupation. By the early 1950s, the reparations were paid in agricultural and industrial products; and Lower Silesia, with its coal mines and Szczecin, an important natural port, were given to Poland by the decision of Stalin.
Germany never paid war debts to Denmark
When the beaten German army left Denmark in May 1945 after the Liberation of Europe by the Allies, it left a debt that currently stands at over 200 billion kroner.
A total of 11.6 billion at-age kroner had to be paid by the Germans – partly for the agricultural products they pulled out of Denmark during the occupation, and partly for the fortifications and other infrastructure they had built in Denmark.
But on liberation day 70 years after the collapse of Germany, have our neighbour only paid a small share of the war reparations imposed on Germany by the victors in 1946.
Account in minus
The debt was mainly in line with the so-called military account in the National Bank, explains Steen Andersen, associate professor of history at CBS in Copenhagen. This account paid the Danish companies that profited from work for the Germans.
In addition to the armed forces account, Germany had a clearing account where Denmark’s imports of German industrial products were offset against Germany’s imports of Danish agricultural products. After the war, the debt was worth 2.9 billion kroner.
In 1953, the debt was cut in half
At a conference in London in 1953, Denmark and other countries agreed to give up half of Germany’s outstanding debt to 5.7 billion. In 2007, it amounted to DKK 102 billion.
In 2006, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs reviewed its archives on the matter so that Foreign Minister Per Stig Møller (K) could answer a question from the Folketing (something like Danish palament).
Anker Jorgensen gave up recovery
It appears that Prime Minister Anker Jørgensen indicated in 1977 that the government would not seek to recover the debts forgiven in 1953 , not least in view of the small share owed to Denmark.
– It’s a dead case. No responsible politician will raise this issue and say that the Germans owe us money. The Danish-German relationship is stable, especially in 1955 with the Bonn-Copenhagen Agreement, which recognised each other’s borders and minorities. It would be politically idiotic to bring that stability into play, Says Steen Andersen.
Joachim Lund, a history lecturer at CBS in Copenhagen, agrees.
Germany doesn’t owe Denmark a penny. We and the rest of Europe have benefited from Germany’s economic recovery. As a result, the debt write-down in 1953 was reasonable, he argues.
Most Southern and Eastern European countries have no problem being an economic burden on Germany and the other North and West European countries!
Read about WWII here