General Question

cage's avatar

Is Germany still paying off money and debts from the first and second world wars?

Asked by cage (3114points) July 8th, 2008

Just watching a Nazi documentary I remembered my history teacher telling me a few years ago that after the second world war at least, Germany were asked to pay off compensation to the surrounding countries for their war crimes and so on.
I know they went in to debt almost immediately as the Economy was already bankrupt, so is the German government still paying out?

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11 Answers

beast's avatar

Actually, Germany had to take responsibility for and pay the debts for World War I.

marinelife's avatar

From Columbia Encyclopedia 6th Edition 2008

WWI: “The Treaty of Versailles (1919) formally asserted Germany’s war guilt and ordered it to pay reparations to the Allies. The United States did not ratify the treaty and waived all claims on reparations. A reparations commission fixed sums in money; some payments were to be in kind (i.e., coal, steel, ships). The chaotic German economy and German government resistance made it difficult for the Allies to collect amounts due them, and they in turn declared it impossible to honor their war debts to the United States. In 1923, French and Belgian troops occupied the Ruhr district after Germany was declared in default. The Dawes Plan (1924) and the Young Plan (1929) sought to ease the strain of reparations payments. By 1931 the world economic situation had so deteriorated that a one-year moratorium on all intergovernmental debts was announced. The Lausanne Pact of 1932 substituted a bond issue for the reparation debt, but Adolf Hitler repudiated the debt, and German payments were not resumed until after 1953. Reparations were also demanded in treaties with Germany’s allies in the war—Austria, Hungary, Bulgaria, and Turkey—but the amounts were never set and nothing was collected.”

WWII: “In 1945 the Allies assessed Germany for damages suffered in World War II. Payments were to be effected chiefly through removal of assets and industrial equipment. The Western powers and the USSR came into conflict over reparations, and seizures of capital goods and German assets in Allied or neutral countries proceeded unevenly. The Western powers ended reparations collections from West Germany in 1952, and the USSR ceased collection from East Germany a year later, although official renunciation of claims did not occur until 1954 in both cases. In 1953 the West German government agreed to pay reparations to Israel for damages suffered by the Jews under the Hitler regime. Lesser reparations claims were made against Germany’s allies in the war—Bulgaria, Finland, Hungary, Italy, and Romania. The Western powers did not support these claims, and payments to the nations that asked compensation were arranged through separate treaties.”

Don’t people even try to look things up first?

richardhenry's avatar

I find it interesting that the WWI debts actually helped Hitler to rally people to arms for WWII. Talk about unintended consequences.

beast's avatar


Keep in mind that they were extremely brainwashed.

Spargett's avatar


The fact that they were a humiliated and demoralized people is the real reason for Hitler coming to power. The German people weren’t any more “brainwashed” than any nation who’s government uses propaganda, including the US.

Hitler gave them something to be proud of. And they loved him for that. The whole Jewish thing came out waaay later.

Knotmyday's avatar

“The whole Jewish thing came out waaay later” is an amazingly, frighteningly inaccurate generalization.
Even at the beginning of Hitler’s political career, while chairing the then-German Workers Party (NSDAP), anti-Semitism was the foundation of his political platform (25 Points speech, February 24, 1920). He blamed the Jews for everything from post-war hyperinflation to Germany’s consequent political instability.
While Hitler was in jail (1923–24) for attempting to overthrow the Bavarian government, he wrote the first volume of Mein Kampf, in which he promoted the elimination of all Jews to make “Lebensraum,” or living space, for racially pure Germans.
From 1919 to the Nuremburg laws, Kristallnacht, and the culmination of Die Endlösung der Judenfrage, Hitler’s fundamental political premise was anti-Semitism and the elimination of the “whole Jewish thing.”
Please research your material, and should you choose not to, please hold your peace rather than inflicting the public with ignorance.
Nothing incenses me more than offhand trivializations of the Holocaust.

Spargett's avatar


The “thing” I was referring to was the plan to exterminate the Jews. Its one thing to blame problems on a specific group of people. It started with a much more innocent inflection. More of a way to unite the German people by picking on a smaller group.

Almost any person isn’t past that. It wasn’t until much later that Hitler moved towards the murdering of these people. This was after the Nazi party had complete control over the government and the people. Most German citizens thought they were buying into the deportation and banning of the Jews, not genocide. The Germans felt there was nothing they could do at that point.

It was a very clever tactic on Hitler’s (and his generals) part.

P.S. Don’t expect me to get in every detail about how the Nazi party rose to power, started WWII, and let out on of the largest modern genocides in one Fluther post. There are hundred hour documentaries the incredibly complex purpose of explaining what happened.

cage's avatar

@ marina, thanks for the effort, but a simple
“no because the debts were never collected even though they were issued”,
and then minus then attack on me being lazy would have sufficient.
This way you probably wouldn’t have got your knickers in a twist. Cheers

marinelife's avatar

@cage Knickers not in a twist. Sorry if I offended. I usually try not to do that. This one just seemed so right there in terms of information.

Seesul's avatar

@richardhenry: I was in Croatia a few years back and toook a tour into the countryside. After lunch, I asked our tour guide (about mid-30’s) about her personal opinions on the war and living through it. She said she would discuss it on the way back and it was extremely interesting to get it first hand like that.

The part that I remember the most was her statement that the weapons being volleyed at them were, in large part the same weapons that their own parents had made in the different geographical conflict during their generation.

Dubrovnic is mostly new red tile roofs now. Almost every roof in the city was damaged.

On the topic at hand: We have friends in New Zealand that had the first winery there. Some of their wine barrels were German war reparations.

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