The main beneficiaries of reparations have been… Germans!

By Grzegorz Adamczyk
3 Min Read

Hanna Radziejowska, the head of the Berlin chapter of the Pilecki Institute, has published her calculations with regard to the payments made out of the German budget for damages sustained during World War II. According to her figures, €89 billion has been paid out to German citizens, whereas only €65 billion has actually been paid to all the nations considered victims of German aggression. 

Some €75 billion of the total paid out to Germans went to meet the claims of those who had to be resettled following the territorial settlement at the end of the war, and €14 billion was handed to German citizens of Jewish origin or who suffered persecution for their sexual orientation or disability. Of the €65 billion paid to all others, much funded the bilateral agreement reached between Germany and Israel to compensate for forced labor and medical experimentation. West German legislation did not cover foreign victims of Nazism, as these were to be covered by reparations agreed on under international law. 

Radziejowska drew attention to German reactions to the report on damages sustained by Poland in World War II, which has been used as a basis for the $1.5 trillion reparations claim from Poland. A part of the German reaction included comments that Germans will want to recover lost territories and that those resettled will demand compensation. However, data shows that this is the social group that has received the biggest compensation for the war. 

The head of the Pilecki Institute in Berlin also said that for over 30 years the Germans have been talking about the need to commemorate Polish victims and the lack of knowledge in Germany about crimes committed in occupied Poland by the Germans. “But still we have no memorial in Berlin commemorating Polish victims and the school curriculum omits any teaching about Polish history,” she points out. Maybe had they also learned more about the history of Ukraine and Russia, they might have pursued different policies towards Russia over the last few decades, she adds. 

Radziejowska also remarked on the lack of accountability for these crimes. “The vast majority of German war criminals went unpunished after the war. So, regardless of some well-intentioned initiatives, the German state has for decades been saying one thing and doing another.”

This is why she believes the image Germany portrays of itself as a country that has faced up to its history is false.

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