The issue of war reparations during World War II has been relaunched after last week's visit by the German Chancellor Angela Merkel to Poland. Will Serbia also raise the issue of German debt in the amount of around 355.13 billion dollars, and if not, what was the role of Josip Broz Tito and German Chancellor Willy Brandt in that?
Namely, more than 70 years later, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki and President Andrzej Duda believe that the reparation issue has never been formally completed, which is why they are still expecting $ 85 billion in cash, goods or other services.
Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras also does not give up on the reimbursement of compensation for the Nazi occupation and demands a compensation of some EUR 278.7 billion from Berlin.
Statistics show that there were different kinds of damages that happened during World War II to Yugoslavia - Human casualties - 1.685.000 killed citizens of the average age of 22, 425.000 citizens suffered a disability, 170.000 people were sent to prison camps, 320.000 people were interned to concentration camps, 270.000 were taken to do forced labor; Infrastructure - 6.690 buildings and public facilities were destroyed or permanently damaged, 59.810 city residential objects, 372.660 countryside objects; Economy - similar fate struck 237 mines, 251 power stations, 3.438 various industrial enterprises, 29.000 craft shops, 6.100 km of railroads, 68.000 km of roads, 3.573 bridges, 56 long cruise ships, motor vehicles and plains from civilian airforce, trading and hotel warehouses, machines, tools, raw materials, finished goods...
Lawyer Dragan Novovic, President of the Association of World War II Victims (which no longer has its office) and coordinator of the Government's War Damage Assessment Commission (which lost its 2010 term), told Telegraf that Serbia has been paid only a small fragment of the 10% of total repair amoung which should be paid to Yugoslavia according to the Paris Conference in January 1946, which included representatives from USA, France, England, Belgium, Netherlands...
- The State Commission of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia estimated war damage at 46.9 billion US dollars, of which 85 percent of that damage was estimated to be in Serbia. The value of that amount would be 355.13 billion dollars today - explains Novovic and adds that the main and the only problem is that Yugoslavia (ie Serbia as a successor) and Germany have never signed the peace agreement because in that case, the matter was supposed to be placed on the agenda and to solve that just like it did with the allied states.
Novovic said that our people would get over 290 billion dollars, just based on the forced labor in camps in the duration of four and a half years.
- The German Federal Court rendered the verdict in 1996, which was a precedent, allowing Jewish workers to individually sue Germany for compensation for forced labor that they did during the World War II captivity. On the basis of this judgment, an opportunity was opened that had not existed in international law until then - an individual was the subject of international law.
- From 2000 to 2010, Germany, according to the Law on Establishment of the Foundation "Recollection, Responsibility, Future", paid off about 7,500 people who were in concentration camps. However, this didn't include war military prisoners, civilians who retaliated, shootings, hanging, and burning of properties. Thus, a discrimination was created among the victims, and that is why around 200.000 of survivors, or the heirs of the deceased, are still waiting for justice - Novovic said.
He entered the entire battle for his family, precisely 11 members, including Father Ratko Novovic, who spent the war years in the camps of Norway and Germany.
- My father swore that he would not die "until the bastards that did all kinds of things to him, who broke his ribs and chest", as he used to say, "paid every penny". Unfortunately, he didn't live to see that - Novovic said and emphasizes that the War Crime never becomes old and that the victims and their hairs will collect what is rightfully theirs.
A history professor Aleksandar Glavnik explains what is the reason Serbia never received the compensation. He did his master thesis on the subject of war reparations.
- Inter-Ministerial Compensation Committee was formed after the war which included all of the countries which won against Germany, and the Soviet Union standing for itself. We were included in the reparation amount with the United States, France, England, Belgium, the Netherlands... A table was formed which showed the percentage of the total reparation amount, depending on the estimated participation, importance, losses. Yugoslavia was near the top of the list, 4th or 5th place and it was agreed to pay the repairs in machines, facilities...
- However, western allies consciously went for a drastic reduction of overall reparation amount, since it was their interest for not to weaken the Western part of Germany too much, to prevent the gradual expense of communism and communist ideas. It is known that the Americans wanted to pour money into our areas, through Marshall's plan. The point is that the total reparation amount was significantly reduced and since the topic became less relevant when Germany started their Western integrations, they completely stopped with deliveries - explains Glavnik.
- A very favorable load for Yugoslavia was contracted, which we returned, or perhaps an agreement for "settling of the debt" was signed - we signed off the war damages, and they the damages for expelling "Volksdeutsche" from Vojvodina - Glavnik said.
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(Telegraf.co.uk / S.I.)