From the dustbins of history, CNN reports that Germany will on Sunday (October 3) make its last reparations payment from World War I. Here is a brief history of the payments:
The initial tally in 1919, according to the German magazine Der Spiegel, was 96,000 tons of gold but was slashed by 40 to 60 percent (sources vary) a few years later. The debt was crippling, just as French Premier Georges Clemenceau intended.
Germany went bankrupt in the 1920s, Der Spiegel explained, and issued bonds between 1924 and 1930 to pay off the towering debt laid on it by the Allied powers in 1919’s Treaty of Versailles…
Germany discontinued reparations in 1931 because of the global financial crisis, and Hitler declined to resume them when he took the nation’s helm in 1933, Der Spiegel reported.
After reaching an accord in London in 1953, West Germany paid off the principal on its bonds but was allowed to wait until Germany unified to pay about 125 million euros ($171 million) in interest it accrued on its foreign debt between 1945 and 1952, the magazine said.
In 1990, Germany began paying off that interest in annual installments, the last of which will be distributed Sunday.
I had no idea that these payments were still being made. I don’t know the answer to this: are reparation payments between nations still a common method for helping to rectifying the wrongs of war?
It is also a reminder of the major consequences of World War I, a war that gets a lot less attention in the United States due to a smaller US role and a majority of the fighting taking place away from American shores.