Zgodovinske lekcije: Nemške reparacije in odpis dolga

Zgodovina je najboljša učiteljica. In lekcija glede (prevelikih) reparacij za vojno škodo, ki so jih zavezniki naprtili Nemčiji po prvi in drugi svetovni vojni in ki jih Nemčija ni bila sposobna plačati, nam mora biti opomnik. Izstradanje Nemčije v letih 1923-24 in 1945-47 ne samo, da je v nasprotju s temeljnimi načeli humanosti, ampak tudi ni imelo ekonomskega smisla. Kakršnakoli grozodejstva je Nemčija zagrešila v obeh svetovnih vojnah, astronomske denarne kazni zanje realno ni mogla odplačati. Potreben je bil Londonski sporazum (1953), ki je prinesel delni (62.6%) odpis dolga, podaljšanje dobe poplačila ter poplačevanje v obliki deleža prihodkov od izvoza.

Ko danes razmišljamo o tem, kako bi Grčija lahko odplačala svoje dolgove za lastna “grozodejstva” prevelike porabe in življenja na kredit, bo treba razmišljati v isti smeri kot pri Nemčiji in odplačevanje dolgov narediti znosno. Grčija ni nikogar napadla in ni povzročila desetine milijonov mrtvih, le na preveliki nogi je živela.

German reparations for World War I

World War I reparations were compensation imposed during the Paris Peace Conference upon the Central Powers following their defeat in the First World War by the Allied and Associate Powers. Each of the defeated powers was required to make payments in either cash or kind. Because of the financial situation Austria, Hungary, and Turkey found themselves in after the war, few to no reparations were paid and the requirements for reparations were cancelled. Bulgaria, having paid only a fraction of what was required, saw her reparation figure reduced and then cancelled. Historians have recognized the German requirement to pay reparations as the “chief battleground of the post-war era” and “the focus of the power struggle between France and Germany over whether the Versailles Treaty was to be enforced or revised”.

The Treaty of Versailles and the 1921 London Schedule of Payments required Germany to pay 132 billion gold marks (US$33 billion) in reparations to cover civilian damage caused during the war. This figure was divided into three categories of bonds: A, B, and C. Of these, Germany was only required to pay towards ‘A’ and ‘B’ bonds totalling 50 billion marks (US$12.5 billion). The remaining ‘C’ bonds, which Germany did not have to pay, were designed to deceive the Anglo-French public into believing Germany was being heavily fined and punished for the war.

Because of the lack of reparation payments by Germany, France occupied the Ruhr in 1923 to enforce payments, causing an international crisis that resulted in the implementation of the Dawes Plan in 1924. This plan outlined a new payment method and raised international loans to help Germany to meet her reparation commitments. Despite this, by 1928 Germany called for a new payment plan, resulting in the Young Plan that established the German reparation requirements at 112 billion marks (US$26.3 billion) and created a schedule of payments that would see Germany complete payments by 1988. With the collapse of the German economy in 1931, reparations were suspended for a year and in 1932 during the Lausanne Conference they were cancelled altogether. Between 1919 and 1932, Germany paid less than 21 billion marks in reparations.

The German people saw reparations as a national humiliation; the German Government worked to undermine the validity of the Treaty of Versailles and the requirement to pay. British economist John Maynard Keynes called the treaty a Carthaginian peace that would economically destroy Germany. His arguments had a profound effect on historians, politicians, and the public at large. Despite Keynes’ arguments and those by later historians supporting or reinforcing Keynes’ views, the consensus of contemporary historians is that reparations were not as intolerable as the Germans or Keynes had suggested and were within Germany’s capacity to pay had there been the political will to do so.

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German reparations for World War II

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.

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.

The Morgenthau Plan, first proposed by United States Secretary of the Treasury Henry Morgenthau, Jr. in a memorandum entitled Suggested Post-Surrender Program for Germany, advocated that the Allied occupation of Germany following World War II include measures to eliminate Germany’s ability to wage war by eliminating its armament industry, and the removal or destruction of other key industries basic to military strength. This included the removal or destruction of all industrial plants and equipment in the Ruhr area.

At the Potsdam conference, with the US operating under influence of the Morgenthau plan,[1] the victorious Allies decided to abolish the German armed forces as well as all munitions factories and civilian industries that could support them. This included the destruction of all ship and aircraft manufacturing capability. Further, it was decided that civilian industries which might have a military potential were to be restricted. The restriction of the latter was set to Germany’s “approved peacetime needs”, which were defined to be set on the average European standard. In order to achieve this, each type of industry was subsequently reviewed to see how many factories Germany required under these minimum level of industry requirements.

The first “level of industry” plan, signed by the Allies on March 29, 1946, stated that German heavy industry was to be lowered to 50% of its 1938 levels by the destruction of 1,500 listed manufacturing plants.[2] In January 1946 the Allied Control Council set the foundation of the future German economy by putting a cap on German steel production capacity: the maximum allowed was set at about 5,800,000 tons of steel a year, equivalent to 25% of the prewar production level.[3] The UK, in whose occupation zone most of the steel production was located, had argued for a higher limited reduction by placing the production ceiling at 12 million tons of steel per year, but had to submit to the will of the US, France and the Soviet Union (which had argued for a 3 million ton limit). Steel plants thus made redundant were to be dismantled. Germany was to be reduced to the standard of life it had known at the height of the Great Depression (1932). Car production was set to 10% of prewar levels, etc.

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Contrary to common myth, the US did in fact take “reparations”; parts of it by John Gimbel called “plunder and exploitation”, directly from Germany. The US for instance took an 8.9% share of dismantled Western German industry.[27][not in citation given]

The Allies also confiscated large amounts of German intellectual property (patents and copyrights, but also trademarks).[28] Beginning immediately after the German surrender and continuing for the next two years the US pursued a vigorous program to harvest all technological and scientific know-how as well as all patents in Germany. John Gimbel comes to the conclusion, in his book “Science Technology and Reparations: Exploitation and Plunder in Postwar Germany“, that the “intellectual reparations” taken by the US (and the UK) amounted to close to $10 billion.[29][30][31] The US competitors of German firms were encouraged by the occupation authorities to access all records and facilities.[32] In 1947 the director of the US Commerce Department’s Office of Technical Services stated before congress: “The fundamental justification of this activity is that we won the war and the Germans did not. If the Germans had won the war, they would be over here in Schenectady and Chicago and Detroit and Pittsburgh, doing the same things.”[32] A German report from May 1, 1949 stated that many entrepreneurs preferred not to do research under the current regulations (Allied Control Council Law No. 25) for fear of the research directly profiting their competitors. The law required detailed reporting to the Allies of all research results.[32]

The patents, drawings and physical equipment taken in Germany included such items (or drawings for) as electron microscopes, cosmetics, textile machinery, tape recorders, insecticides, a unique chocolate-wrapping machine, a continuous butter-making machine, a manure spreader, ice skate grinders, paper napkin machines, “and other technologies – almost all of which were either new to American industry or ‘far superior’ to anything in use in the United States.”[33]

The British took commercial secrets too, by abducting German scientists and technicians, or simply by interning German businessmen if they refused to reveal trade secrets.[34]

Konrad Adenauer stated: “According to a statement made by an American expert, the patents formerly belonging to IG Farben have given the American chemical industry a lead of at least 10 years. The damage thus caused to the German economy is huge and cannot be assessed in figures. It is extraordinarily regrettable that the new German inventions cannot be protected either, because Germany is not a member of the Patent Union. Britain has declared that it will respect German inventions regardless of what the peace treaty may say. But America has refused to issue such a declaration. German inventors are therefore not in a position to exploit their own inventions. This puts a considerable brake on German economic development.”[35]

In JCS 1067 there were provisions allowing German scientists be detained for intelligence purposes as required. Although the original focus on the exploitation was towards military means, much of the information collected by FIAT was quickly adapted commercially to the degree that the office of the Assistant Secretary of State for Occupied Areas requested that the peace treaty with Germany be redacted to protect US industry from lawsuits.

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JCS 1067 was later replaced by JCS 1779, which aimed at restoring a “stable and productive Germany” and was soon followed by the Marshall Plan.

The Marshall Plan (officially the European Recovery Program, ERP) was the American initiative to aid Europe, in which the United States gave $17 billion (approximately $160 billion in current dollar value) in economic support to help rebuild European economies after the end of World War II. The plan was in operation for four years beginning in April 1948. The goals of the United States were to rebuild war-devastated regions, remove trade barriers, modernize industry, and make Europe prosperous again. The Marshall Plan required a lessening of interstate barriers, a dropping of many petty regulations constraining business, and encouraged increase productivity, labour union membership, and the adoption of modern business procedures.[2]

The Marshall Plan aid was divided amongst the participant states on a roughly per capita basis. A larger amount was given to the major industrial powers, as the prevailing opinion was that their resuscitation was essential for general European revival. Somewhat more aid per capita was also directed towards the Allied nations, with less for those that had been part of the Axis or remained neutral. The largest recipient of Marshall Plan money was the United Kingdom (receiving about 26% of the total), followed by France (18%) and West Germany (11%). Some 18 European countries received Plan benefits.[3] Although offered participation, the Soviet Union refused Plan benefits, and also blocked benefits to Eastern Bloc countries.

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London Debt Agreement (1953)

The London Debt Agreement covered a number of different types of German debt from before and after the Second World War. Some of them arose directly out of the efforts to finance the reparations system, while others reflect extensive lending, mostly by U.S. investors to German firms and governments.[1]

The parties that were involved besides West Germany included Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Great Britain, Greece, Iran, Ireland, Italy, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, South Africa, the United States, and Yugoslavia and others. The states of the Eastern Bloc were not involved. The negotiations lasted from February 27 to August 8, 1953.[1]

The total under negotiation was 16 billion marks of debts resulting from the Treaty of Versailles of World War I which had defaulted in the 1930s, but which Germany decided to repay to restore its reputation. This money was owed to government and private banks in the U.S., France and Britain. Another 16 billion marks represented postwar loans by the U.S. Under the London Debts Agreement of 1953, the repayable amount was reduced by 50% to about 15 billion marks and stretched out over 30 years, and compared to the fast-growing German economy were of minor impact.[2]

An important term of the agreement was that repayments were only due while West Germany ran a trade surplus, and that repayments were limited to 3% of export earnings. This gave Germany’s creditors a powerful incentive to import German goods, assisting reconstruction.[3]

The agreement significantly contributed to the growth of the post-war German economy and reemergence of Germany as a world economic power. It allowed Germany to enter international economic institutions such as the World Bank, International Monetary Fund and World Trade Organization.

Some of the agreement included debts to be paid after reunification of Germany. Over decades it seemed unlikely to transpire, but in 1990 there were another 239.4 million Deutschmark of unpaid coupons revived. On 3 October 2010 the last payment was made with 69.9 million euro.[4] This is considered to be the last payment of Germany on all known debts resulting from both world wars.

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