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War reparations refers to the monetary compensation intended to cover damage or injury during a war. Generally, the term war reparations refers to money or goods changing hands, rather than such property transfers as the annexation of land.

History

Pre-World War I

Rome imposed large indemnities on Carthagemarker after the First and Second Punic War.

The 'unequal treaties' signed by the Qing dynastymarker in Chinamarker, Japanmarker, Koreamarker, Siammarker, Persiamarker, Ottoman Empire, Afghanistanmarker and other countries in the nineteenth century included payments of indemnities to the victorious Western powers, mainly United Kingdom, France and Russia, and later Japan.

After the Franco-Prussian War, according to conditions of Treaty of Frankfurt (May 10, 1871), Francemarker was obliged to pay a war indemnity of 5 billion gold francs in 5 years. German troops remained in parts of France until the last installment of the indemnity was paid in September 1873, before the obliged date.

World War I

Russiamarker agreed to pay reparations to the Central Powers when Russia exited the war in the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk (which was repudiated by the Bolshevik government eight months later).Germanymarker agreed to pay reparations of 132 billion gold marks to the Triple Entente in the Treaty of Versailles.Bulgariamarker paid reparations of 2.25 billion gold francs (90 million pounds) to the Entente, according to Treaty of Neuilly.

World War II

Europe

After World War II, according to the Potsdam conference held between July 17 and August 2, 1945, Germany was to pay the Allies US$20 billion mainly in machinery, manufacturing plants. Reparations to the Soviet Unionmarker stopped in 1953. In addition, in accordance with the agreed-upon policy of de-industrialisation and pastoralization of Germany, large numbers of civilian factories were dismantled for transport to France and the UKmarker, or simply destroyed. Dismantling in the west stopped in 1950.

In the end, war victims in many countries were compensated by the property of Germans that were expelled after World War II. Beginning immediately after the German surrender and continuing for the next two years, the United Statesmarker pursued a vigorous program to harvest all technological and scientific know-how as well as all patents in Germany. 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 dollars.German reparations were partly to be in the form of forced labor. By 1947, approximately 4,000,000 German POW's 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".

According to the Paris Peace Treaties, 1947, Italymarker agreed to pay reparations of about US$125 million to Yugoslaviamarker, US$105 million to Greecemarker, US$100 million to the Soviet Union, US$25 million to Ethiopiamarker, and US$5 million to Albaniamarker. Finlandmarker agreed to pay reparations of US$300 million to the Soviet Union.Hungarymarker agreed to pay reparations of US$200 million to the Soviet Union, US$100 million to Czechoslovakiamarker and Yugoslavia. Romaniamarker agreed to pay reparations of US$300 million to the Soviet Union. Bulgariamarker agreed to pay reparations of $50 million to Greece and $25 million to Yugoslavia.According to the articles of these treaties, the value of US$ was prescribed as 35 US dollars to one troy ounce of pure gold.

Japan

According to the Treaty of Peace with Japan and the bilateral agreements, Japan agreed to pay around 1 trillion and 30 billion yen. For countries that renounced any reparations from Japan, it agreed to pay indemnity and/or grants in accordance with bilateral agreements.

The government of the United States officially apologized for the Japanese American internment during World War II in the 1980s and paid reparations.

Criticisms

The main criticisms of war reparations have historically been:
  • that they are punitive measures against the populace of the losing side only, rather than against the belligerent side, which may be the side that justly ought to make amends.
  • that in very many instances, the defeated populace's government waged war, and the people themselves had little or no role in deciding to wage war, and therefore war reparations are imposed on innocent people.
  • that after years of war, the populace of the losing side is likely already impoverished, and the imposition of war reparations therefore may drive the people into deeper poverty, both fueling long-term resentment of the victor and making the actual payments unlikely.


John Maynard Keynes claimed that overall influence on the world economy would have been disastrous.

Some critics hold that war reparations were an indirect, but major, cause of World War II. After the end of World War I, the 1919 Treaty of Versailles imposed heavy war reparations upon Germany. Some claim these reparations payments exacerbated German economic problems, and the resulting hyperinflation ruined the chances of the Weimar Republicmarker with the public and allowed the rise of the Nazi Party and Adolf Hitler. After the Franco-Prussian War, the amount of reparations amount was set at a fixed value. Moreover, the post-World War I amount was subject to frequent recalculations, which encouraged Germany to obstruct payments. Eventually, all payments were cancelled after Hitler rose to power.

The experience of the post-World War I reparations led to the post-World War II solution, where winning powers were supposed to take reparations in machines and movable goods from the defeated nations, as opposed to money.

Recent war reparations

After the Gulf War, Iraqmarker accepted United Nations Security Council resolution 687, which declared Iraq's financial liability for damage caused in its invasion of Kuwaitmarker. The United Nations Compensation Commission ("UNCC") was established, and US$350 billion in claims were filed by governments, corporations, and individuals. Funds for these payments were to come from a 30% share of Iraq's oil revenues from the oil for food program. It was not anticipated that US$350 billion would become available for total payment of all reparations claims, so several schedules of prioritization were created over the years. The UNCC says that its prioritization of claims by natural people, ahead of claims by governments and legal people, "marked a significant step in the evolution of international claims practice."

Payments under this reparations program continue; as of July 2004, the UNCC stated that it had actually distributed US$18.4 billion to claimants.

There have been attempts to codify reparations both in the Statutes of the International Criminal Court and the UN Basic Principles on the Right to a Remedy and Reparation for Victims[50314].

See also



Notes

  1. Norman M. Naimark The Russians in Germany ISBN 0-674-78405-7 pg. 206


References

  • Wheeler-Bennett, Sir John "The Wreck of Reparations, being the political background of the Lausanne Agreement, 1932", New York, H. Fertig, 1972.
  • Ilaria Bottigliero "Redress for Victims of Crimes under International Law", Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, The Hague (2004).


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