Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Post-Reunification Surprise: Germany Still Paying World War I Reparations

Germany is approaching an historic milestone. No, not the anniversary of its reunification. No, not the anniversary of the return of the federal government to Berlin. No, not Roland Emmerich's birthday.

Germany is nearly finished paying off its war debts -- from World War I. Yes, I, not II. The country has only 56 million Euros left from a punitive sum that was originally 226 billion Reichsmarks (later reduced to 132 billion Reichsmarks), according to Deutsche Welle, citing a Bild report. With a little bit of help from decades of inflation, a booming economy, and a cessation of payments during the long interregnum when Germany was divided by the Cold War, the amounts Germany had to pay to bondholders (apparently very patient bondholders, at that) was small enough that most people didn't even know the payments were still being made. Or that Germany still had debts from that war.

It sounds funny to most people. But then again, we'll be paying Afghanistan war debts for decades to come.

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