Why Germany did not pay the USSR for the damage caused during the war
The damage from the war unleashed by Nazi Germany was estimated at hundreds of billions of dollars.
No matter how hard Germany tried to pay compensation in good faith, it failed to satisfy all financial claims.
In 2000, the German Ministry of Finance published a statement regarding reparation provisions following the Second World War. In particular, it said that in the absence of documented long-term payments, the winning countries unilaterally demanded for themselves compensation for the damage caused by the Nazi regime.
According to the documents of the Potsdam Conference held in July-August 1945, reparations, first of all, should have been expressed in property form (factories, machinery, equipment and other goods).
However, "the total value of property taken by the winning countriesas well as other German payments can not be determined to date and, as things are, probably never can be registered accurately enough, ”said a statement from the Ministry of Finance of Germany.
In 1945, at the Yalta Conference, Stalin announced the amount of reparations payments to Germany - $ 20 billion - which should be divided equally between the USSR and the allies (50% percent to the Soviet Union, the remaining 50% to France, the USA and the UK).
Why did Stalin divide the reparations in this way? According to the calculations of the French economist A. Claude, the total cost of damage caused by the Nazi regime amounted to 260 billion dollars (in 1938 prices). In particular, of this amount, Germany itself accounts for $ 48 billion, Poland - $ 20 billion, England - $ 6.8 billion, France - $ 1.5 billion. The damage to the USSR was $ 128 billion, and this is about 50%.
Historians explain the more than the modest amount of reparation payments called by the Soviet leader: “Stalin remembered that the heavy levies imposed on Germany after the First World War exhausted the German economy, thereby causing revanchist sentiments and the growth of national socialism”.
The payment procedure established at the Potsdam Conference was as follows: the claims of the United States, Great Britain and other countries were satisfied at the expense of the western occupation zones, the USSR at the expense of the eastern zone. At the same time, the German fleet was divided between Great Britain, the USSR and the USA.
According to Soviet data, the USA, Great Britain and France from their zones of occupation took out equipment worth about $ 1.2 billion, 277 tons of gold (almost $ 300 million), sea and river vessels for $ 200 million. Under the control of the Allies, Germany’s foreign assets were transferred in the amount of about $ 4 billion. German patents and technical documentation seized by the United States and Great Britain are estimated at about $ 5 billion.
It was assumed that the reparation claims of Poland had to satisfy the Soviet Union from its share (15%). But in 1953, under the pressure of the USSR, Poland abandoned part of the reparations in exchange for shifting its border to the west. Although in 1975, Warsaw still received 1.3 billion marks of compensation for the crimes of the Nazis.
In 2004, the Polish Sejm declared that Poland still did not receive sufficient compensation for the damage caused by Hitler’s aggression.However, the Germans also have complaints about the Poles. In 1945, millions of German citizens were evicted from the territories that were ceded to Poland. Displaced persons and their descendants began to file with the courts demanding the return of their property, and decisions were made in favor of the plaintiffs.
Back in 1944, the American Bureau of Strategic Services made calculations for possible German reparations in favor of the USSR. The amount, called the Americans, amounted to 105.2 billion dollars (in terms of the current rate - more than 2 trillion). This is slightly less than $ 128 billion - the numbers that the Soviet and German sides eventually agreed on.
Domestic economists say that the deliveries to the Soviet Union in the framework of reparations amounted to no more than 4% of the total damage caused by Germany during the war. According to German experts, the total value of the property exported from the eastern zone of occupation was about 66 billion marks ($ 15 billion). What was this property?
Russian researchers Mikhail Semiryag and Boris Knyshevsky, referring to the data of the Main Trophy Board, write that about 400 thousand railway cars were removed from Germany to the USSR (including 72 thousandwagons of building materials), 2885 factories, 96 power stations, 340 thousand machine tools, 200 thousand electric motors. Reparation deliveries also included 1 million 335 thousand cattle, 2.3 million tons of grain, 1 million tons of potatoes and vegetables, half a million tons of fat and the same amount of sugar, 20 million liters of alcohol, 16 tons of tobacco.
In addition, 60 thousand grand pianos, 460 thousand radio receivers, 190 thousand carpets, 940 thousand pieces of furniture, 265 thousand wall and table clocks, which were mainly distributed for a small fee between Soviet party workers, were officially confiscated from the inhabitants of the Soviet occupation zone. and senior officers.
In 1955, the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR issued a decree "On the termination of the state of war between the Soviet Union and Germany." By that time, a peace treaty had already been concluded with the GDR, in which Moscow officially renounced all material claims to the republic as a result of the Second World War. At this point, the theme of reparations for the USSR was officially closed.
The only country from the Hitler coalition that paid all reparations to the USSR in the amount of $ 226.5 million was Finland.
In the fall of 1945, the Netherlands demanded 25 billion guilders as compensation for damage caused by Germany during the occupation.However, in 1949, the Dutch side abandoned its demands in return for 69 square meters. km of territory. In 1963, the Federal Republic of Germany bought the land, paying 280 million marks to the Netherlands.
Under the Luxembourg Agreement (1952), the Federal Republic of Germany transferred 3 billion marks to Israel. Later, another 500 million marks went to the accounts of the Conference on Jewish Material Claims against Germany - it was this organization that later became the main lobbyist for the interests of the Jewish people in matters of German compensation. This is a unique case in history, when reparations were received by a country that not only did not participate in the war, but was also not on the world map for the period of the conflict.
From 1953 to 1965, deliveries to German reparations amounted to 12 to 20% of annual imports to Israel. Economists believe that it is these payments, and not US aid, that contributed more to the economic growth of the Jewish state. By 2008, Germany paid reparations to Israel for more than 60 billion euros.
In 1960, Greece and Germany signed an agreement according to which the Balkan country received 115 million marks as compensation. However, the Greeks considered this amount insufficient and still continue to blackmail the German government.
In 2000, the Supreme Court of Greece ruled that Germany must pay 28 million euros to the relatives of 218 residents of the village of Distomo, who were shot by the Nazis on June 10, 1944. In addition, according to the Greek side, Germany should compensate for the forced occupation loan issued by Greece in 1938 in the amount of $ 3.5 billion (at the current exchange rate - about 54 billion euros).
In response to these claims, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said: “The German government considers the issue of compensation politically and legally resolved. At the same time, we are aware of the cruelty and arbitrariness that occurred in Greece during the times of Nazism. ”
In 1961, an agreement was signed between Germany and Italy on compensation for the Italian victims of Nazism, under which the Italian government received 40 million marks (approximately 20 million euros). In 2008, the Court of Cassation of Italy ruled that victims of Nazi crimes could file lawsuits against Germany in Italian courts.
The German government responded to the UN International Court of Justice, accusing the Italian judicial authorities of “ignoring the jurisdictional immunity of Germany as a sovereign state.”In February 2012, the court ruled that Germany possesses legal immunity from prosecution in national courts for Nazi atrocities. The verdict is final and will not be subject to appeal.
The victims of nazism
In addition to reparations to the States, Germany paid compensation to individual persons included in the category of "victims of Nazism." For example, in 1950-1960, Germany paid the victims of the Nazis in France $ 100 million, in Belgium $ 20 million, in Norway $ 15 million, in Luxembourg $ 4.5 million, in Denmark $ 4 million, in the UK $ 2.8 million .
In the late 1990s, after a series of private lawsuits to the American courts, Berlin was forced to create the Memory, Responsibility, and Future Foundation (operated from 2000–2007). Through this fund, compensation was provided to former forced laborers hijacked to Germany during the Second World War. In total, the German government and German enterprises transferred 5.2 billion euros to the accounts of the fund.
In total, the Memory, Responsibility and the Future Fund paid compensation in the amount of 4.4 billion euros to 1.66 million people, including 427 million euros to victims living in Russia. However, the Conference on Jewish Material Claims against Germany became the largest recipient, with a fund that transferred 1.149 billion euros.
It should also be noted that in 2008 the German government agreed to pay one-time compensation in the amount of € 2,556 to about six thousand Jews living in Western countries who survived the siege of Leningrad.
According to specialists, a total of Germany paid out private compensation to about 8 million people, 6 million of whom are Jews.
The Swiss banks were also involved in the topic of German reparations. Swiss financial institutions were accused of hiding the assets of victims of the Holocaust and laundering illegally obtained Nazi funds. In 1998, an agreement was concluded whereby Swiss banks paid approximately 24,000 victims or their heirs $ 1.25 billion.