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War reparations

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War reparations

War reparations are payments intended to cover damage or injury inflicted during a war. Generally, the term war reparations refers to money or goods changing hands, but not to the annexation of land.


  • History 1
    • Europe 1.1
      • Franco-Prussian War 1.1.1
      • World War I 1.1.2
      • World War II Germany 1.1.3
      • World War II Italy 1.1.4
      • Other World War II reparations 1.1.5
    • Japan 1.2
      • Sino-Japanese war of 1895 1.2.1
      • World War II Japan 1.2.2
      • United States 1.2.3
    • Iraq and Kuwait 1.3
  • Criticisms and negative effects 2
  • See also 3
  • Notes 4
  • References 5
  • External links 6


Making the defeated party pay a war indemnity is a common practice with a long history.

In ancient times, the imposition of reparations on a defeated enemy was often the beginning of forcing that enemy to pay a regular tribute.

Rome imposed large indemnities on Carthage after the First and Second Punic Wars.[1]

Some war reparations induced changes in monetary policy. For example, the French payment following the Franco-Prussian war played a major role in Germany's decision to adopt the gold standard. The 230 million silver taels in reparations imposed on defeated China after the Sino-Japanese War led Japan to a similar decision.[2]


Following the Greco-Turkish War (1897), defeated Greece was forced to pay a large war indemnity to Turkey (£4 million). Greece, which was already in default, was compelled to permit oversight of its public finances by an international financial commission.[3]

Franco-Prussian War

After the Franco-Prussian War, according to conditions of Treaty of Frankfurt (May 10, 1871), France 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, ahead of schedule.

World War I

Russia 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). Bulgaria paid reparations of 2.25 billion gold francs (90 million pounds) to the Entente, according to the Treaty of Neuilly.

Germany agreed to pay reparations of 132 billion gold marks to the Triple Entente in the Treaty of Versailles, payments which were suspended before World War II by Adolf Hitler. The amount of reparations was later reduced by the Agreement on German External Debts in 1953. After another pause pending the reunification of Germany, the last installment of these reparations was paid on 3 October 2010.[4]

World War II Germany

During World War II, Nazi Germany extracted payments from occupied countries and compelled loans. In addition, countries were obliged to provide resources, and forced labour. German extractions from Greece were over 10 times the cost of the occupation of Greece.

After de-industrialisation and pastoralization of Germany, large numbers of civilian factories were dismantled for transport to France and the UK, or simply destroyed. Dismantling in the west stopped in 1950.

In the end, war victims as well as profiteers in many countries were compensated by the property of Germans that were expelled after World War II. Beginning even 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.[5] 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".

Germany paid S. A. is thought to have had a chilling effect on such claims in post-war Germany.[6]

World War II Italy

According to the Paris Peace Treaties, 1947, Italy agreed to pay reparations of about US$125 million to Yugoslavia, US$105 million to Greece, US$100 million to the Soviet Union, US$25 million to Ethiopia, and US$5 million to Albania.

Other World War II reparations

Finland agreed to pay reparations of US$300 million to the Soviet Union; Finland also was the only country which fully paid its war reparations. Hungary agreed to pay reparations of US$200 million to the Soviet Union, US$100 million to Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia. Romania agreed to pay reparations of US$300 million to the Soviet Union. Bulgaria 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.


Sino-Japanese war of 1895

Treaty of Shimonoseki 馬關條約 was signed on April 17th 1895, China obliged to pay an indemnity of 200 millions silver taels (3.61 billion Yen) to Japan; and to open the ports of Shashi 沙市, Chongqing 重庆, Suzhou 苏州, and Hangzhou 杭州 to Japanese trade.

World War II Japan

According to Article 14 of the Treaty of Peace with Japan (1951): "Japan should pay reparations to the Allied Powers for the damage and suffering caused by it during the war. Japan will promptly enter into negotiations with Allied Powers". Examples of war reparations made pursuant to the San Francisco Peace Treaty with Japan (1951) include: reparations amounting to US$550 million (198 billion yen 1956) were made to the Philippines, and US$39 million (14.04 billion yen 1959) to Viet Nam; payment to the International Committee of the Red Cross to compensate prisoners of war (POW) of 4.5 million pounds sterling (4.54109 billion yen) was made; and Japan relinquished all overseas assets approximately US$23.681 billion (379.499 billion yen).

Japan signed the peace treaty with 49 nations in 1952 and concluded 54 bilateral agreements that included those with Burma (US$20 million 1954,1963), the Republic of Korea (US$300 million 1965), Indonesia (US$223.08 million 1958), Singapore (25 million Singapore dollars/2.94 billion yen 1967), Malaysia (25 million Malaysian dollars/2.94 billion Yen 1967), Thailand (5.4 billion Yen 1955), Micronesia (1969), Laos (1958), Cambodia (1959), Mongolia (1977), Spain ($5.5 million 1957), Switzerland, Netherlands ($10 million 1956), Sweden and Denmark. Payments of reparations started in 1955, lasted for 23 years and ended in 1977. For countries that renounced any reparations from Japan, it agreed to pay indemnity and/or grants in accordance with bilateral agreements. In the Joint Communiqué of the Government of Japan and the Government of the People's Republic of China (1972), People's Republic of China renounces its demand for war reparation from Japan. In the Soviet–Japanese Joint Declaration of 1956, the Soviet Union waived its rights to reparations from Japan, and both Japan and the Soviet Union waived all reparations claims arising from war.

United States

The government of the United States under the Reagan Administration officially apologized for the Japanese American internment during World War II in 1988 and paid reparations to former internees and their descendants.

Iraq and Kuwait

After the Gulf War, Iraq accepted United Nations Security Council resolution 687, which declared Iraq's financial liability for damage caused in its invasion of Kuwait. 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 entities or corporations (legal persons), "marked a significant step in the evolution of international claims practice."

Payments under this reparations program continue; as of July 2010, 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.

Criticisms and negative effects

British economist John Maynard Keynes claimed that overall influence on the world economy of exacting reparations from Germany would have been disastrous.

Many observers 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 Republic with the public and allowed the rise of the Nazi Party and Adolf Hitler. After the Franco-Prussian War, the amount of reparations 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. Moreover, policies like the Marshall Plan emphasized shared economic development of the Western European states (removing much of what critics saw as the incentives giving rise to World War I) rather than punishment of the former Axis powers.

See also


  1. ^ Livy. Ab urbe condita (The Early History of Rome, books I–V, and The History of Rome from its Foundation, books XXI–XXX: The War with Hannibal), London; Penguin Classics, 2002 and 1976.
  2. ^ Metzler, M. 2006. Lever of Empire: The International Gold Standard and the Crisis of Liberalism in Prewar Japan. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press.
  3. ^ Wynne William H., (1951), State insolvency and foreign bondholders, New Haven, Yale University Press, vol. 2.
  4. ^
  5. ^ Norman M. Naimark The Russians in Germany ISBN 0-674-78405-7 pg. 206
  6. ^ Sybil Milton in Samuel Totten, William S. Parsons & Israel W. Charny ed, Routledge, Oxford, 2004 Century of Genocide, pp.174–5


  • 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).
  • Livy. Ab urbe condita (The Early History of Rome, books I–V, and The History of Rome from its Foundation, books XXI–XXX: The War with Hannibal), London; Penguin Classics, 2002 and 1976.
  • Mantoux, E. 1946. The Carthaginian Peace or The Economic Consequences of Mr. Keynes. London: Oxford University Press.
  • Morrison, R. J. 1992. Gulf war reparations: Iraq, OPEC, and the transfer problem. American Journal of Economics and Sociology 51, 385–99.
  • Occhino, F., Oosterlinck, K. and White, E. 2008. How much can a victor force the vanquished to pay? Journal of Economic History 68, 1–45.
  • Ohlin, B. 1929. The reparation problem: a discussion. Economic Journal 39, 172–82.
  • Oosterlinck, Kim (2009). "Reparations". In Durlauf, Steven N.; Blume, Lawrence E.  
  • Schuker, S. A. 1988. ‘American reparations’ to Germany, 1919–33.: implications for the third-world debt crisis. Princeton Studies in International Finance no. 61.
  • White, E. N. 2001. Making the French pay: the cost and consequences of the Napoleonic reparations. European Review of Economic History 5, 337–65.

External links

  • Treaty of Peace with Japan Signed at San Francisco on 8 September 1951
  • The United Nations Compensation Commission
  • Reparations for the gross violations of human rights during the regime of Democratic Kampuchea (the Khmer Rouge) in Cambodia
  • Treaty of Peace Between Japan and India (1952)
  • Treaty of Peace Between Japan and the Union of Burma (1954)
  • Agreement Between Japan and Thailand Concerning Settlement of "Special Yen Problem" (1955)
  • Reparations Agreement Between Japan and the Republic of the Philippines (1956)
  • Treaty of Peace Between Japan and the Republic of Indonesia (1958)
  • Reparations Agreement Between Japan and the Republic of Vietnam (1959)
  • Agreement of 21st September, 1967, Between Japan and the Republic of Singapore
  • Agreement of 21st September, 1967, Between Japan and Malaysia
  • Joint Communique of the Government of Japan and the Government of the People's Republic of China (1972)
  • Japan's Records on War Reparations, The Association for Advancement of Unbiased View of History
  • War Responsibility, Postwar Compensation, and Peace Movements and Education in Japan
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