Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Albrecht Ritschl: Germany is the champion in war debts

Albrecht Ritsch

Germany had occasionally international preeminence in many sectors: tourism, exports, arts, football. But where is permanently unrivaled  is in the sport of "borrow and return nothing." "Germany is world champion in war debts" reiterated recently the Professor of Economic History Albrecht Ritschl. So far has not paid a dime for its debts during the Second World War. These include the so-called forced loan to the Bank of Greece, the height of which, at current prices is estimated at several billion euros. Thus the expressed will of the Greek government to formally request the repayment of the loan causes headaches in Berlin.  
Government spokesman Steffen Seibert constantly declares that "there is no subject for discussion" βut everyone knows that claims are ahead and that will bring in a strong test the Greek-German relations.

Michael Slecht

The opinions on the reception of such a (Greek) request from the German government are divided. "If Greece requests by legal means its claims, the German government will accept it" supports the spokesperson of the parliamentary party Left (Die Linke) supports the parliamentary party spokesperson Left (Inter LINK) Michael Slecht.

Just opposite is the opinion of Mr. Ritschl ιn the following interview. Α "yes" to Greece, he says, would force Germany to pay reparations to other countries - victims of the second world war. But this is ruled out. This allows the Germans to remain world champions in unpaid debts.

interview to NIKOS CHEILAS

Manolis Glezos asked Wolfgang Schäuble to discuss with the Greek government the issue of German war debts. Do you think that he will?

Ι would be surprised if he did. This would mean that Germany would abandon the far proven tactics of denial. Just a few days ago also Schäuble described the raising of the issue a distraction from the main current problems.

To what, could Greece hope, if the necessary negotiations took place?

The honest answer is, i am afraid, to nothing. Germany will not accept debate, because if it starts it is not going to stop - soon will come claims from other countries. The view of Helmut Kohl that prevailed generally after the reunification of Germany was that it is impossible to "sell" the reparations to the German population and that if this was done would cause as after the First World War, more harm than good. The best for him was the continuation of the economic and political cooperation in Europe.

The German historian Götz Aly places the occupation loan in the general war debts of the defeated country. Is this correct?

In Article E ʹof the Treaty of London from 1953 it was determined that the Second World War debts of Germany - including the occupation loan - and the reparations will be dealt at a conference after the German reunification. The so called 2 + 4 pact between the two German states and the four victorious powers of  in 1990 says nothing about debts and reparations. From this stems the legal view of Germany that everything is solved since.

Were there forced loans by other occupied countries?

Given the aggressiveness of the Third Reich foreign policy, the question that must be asked is: was ever given voluntarily loans to the Nazis from occupied countries?

Götz Aly also argues that much of the war reparations come from the gold of the Jews of Thessaloniki. Do the descendants have claims on this gold?

The looting of gold and especially that of the Jews had been assigned to special German units. For Thessaloniki, I do not know exactly the issue. But generally I know that the Nazi regime was charged the expenditures for the extermination of Jews to their home countries. One such example is the transport of τηε French Jews to Auschwitz that was charged to the French State. After the war, however, Germany, without recognizing its debt to reparations, paid individual compensation through state organizations and institutions.

How can the reparations be calculated ? Only by the winners of the war, or in collaboration with the losers?

Such remedies have been since antiquity a counterweight of the losses of the winners. The decisive case in Germany was the decision of the allies prematurely to terminate the process of reparations and to put in place the cooperation of European countries with Germany. Having eliminated the burden of reparations and debts, the economy and the currency became so healthy and Germany became an export country. By doing so, Germany, brought forth surpluses in Europe, not through the coercive street of reparations but through the accumulation of surpluses in foreign trade and the creation of large property abroad. This season we are experiencing -among other- the depreciation of an important part of this property.


Several German politicians warn against the German and the Greek debts becoming entangled. Why not netted them?

Politically this netting between Greece and Germany is already done. Economically we must say that the current health of Germany is not random but indirect result of the policies of the coalition forces after the great war. German surpluses would have been unthinkable without the netting.

Would part of the German elite consider a Greek claim as causus belli (cause of war);

I have not met anyone yet who would send paratroopers in Crete, if you mean something like this. The mood in Germany is currently rather defensive and isolationist, not aggressive. If it were possible to cut Germany with a large saw from the European continent and to moor as an island somewhere between Australia and the Chinese sea, perhaps the majority of Germans would say "yes". No one is interested anymore for imperialist adventures, although many overseas see it differently. The German public has a rather anti-militarist stance.

Could the European agenda be changed due to claims from Athens?

Not necessarily. Ιn Germany there is a growing trend against the euro due to the perception that the common currency has broken the countries of Europe and has made us obnoxious to other Europeans.

Could the Greek claims bring appetite to other countries robbed by the Nazis?

Doubtless. For this reason also Berlin excludes any discussion on the subject. Greece will not be the exception here. The effects of such claims will undoubtedly come up rather indirectly. On the other hand, of course, this could have unintended consequences such as the strengthening of a current that says it is better to give up the euro and lose part of the value of our assets abroad than becoming the target of a new hatred of other peoples.

source: "TO VIMA" newspaper April 28th 2013


Albrecht Ritschl: "If Germany paid war compensations, would go bankrupt immediately”

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