Full Citation

  • Title $97,860,000,000 Is Claimed by France as Reparations
  • Author Humphreys, William J.
  • Publication Title New York Herald Tribune (European Edition)
  • Collection New York Herald Tribune (European Edition)
  • Date Saturday,  Aug. 4, 1945
  • Issue Number 19438
  • Page Number [1]
  • Place of Publication Paris, France
  • Language English
  • Document Type Article
  • Publication Section News
  • Source Library The New York Times Company
$97,860,000,000 Is Claimed By France as Reparations Government Commission Presents This Figure as Minimum, Subject to Upward Revision; Damages Asked for Losses of Individuals By William J. Humphreys The Potsdam conference of the “Big Three,, and its general termi¬ nology covering the touchy subjects of reparations drew Jrom France yes¬ terday the explicit claim that she was entitled to at least $97,860,000,- 000 in damages from Germany. The figure, it was emphasized, in a report from a special government commission that has been accu¬ mulating statistics on the nation’s war damage for several months, re¬ presented only a minimum estimate. On the basis of a more complete survey, the official survey set forth, the losses sustained by France in the German-perpetrated war in Europe were subject to an upward revision. There was evidence of the up¬ ward trend in the report itself. The damage values were first ar¬ rived at on the 1939 quotations of the franc. Because of the depletion of commodities in France as a re¬ sult of the war these values were then multiplied by the coefficient of 3.4 to represent the true value of the franc at home. Even though friendly and legal foreign exchanges still recognize the franc’s value as roughly that of 1939, there has been unavoidable price inflation inside France itself. The reparations bill was the first itemized account of damages claim¬ ed by an Allied country to be pub¬ lished. It pointed out that France was one of the heaviest and longest sufferers at the hands of Germany. If its total damages are accepted as final it will clearly mean Ger¬ many will have to pay the concert of Allies an astronomical sum. There had been unofficial reports that Russia claims priority and a lion’s share of the Germans’ ability to pay. The United States and Britain, according, to these stories, stand next in line, with the rest of the nations lumped together as ultimate beneficiaries. There was probably more than a coincidence in the "publication of the report on the same day that the decisions of the "Big Three” be¬ came known, according to political circles. French resentment to the fact that the government of Gen¬ eral Charles de Gaulle was not invited to the Potsdam delibera¬ tions is well known. The report of the commission on the cost of the German occupation appeared timed in any event to state the case of France very early in the matter of reparations. One of the interesting1 reparations items claimed by the French gov¬ ernment was that for damages to individuals and its disclosure that (Continued on page 3, col. 5) Reparations (Continued from page 1) of 450,000 civilians killed during the war 300,000 of these French had died in Germany. Civilians incapacitated on account of war wounds were estimated to number 35^,000 persons of whom 228,000had been repatriated from the bondage of Nazi slave labor. Total civilian casualties, the dead and injured, were thus 805,000. In contrast, the reparations claim counted the total number of mili¬ tary dead and wounded as 430,000, or a little more than rialf the total number of French civilian victims of the European war. The French government claimed $7,180,- 000,000 as a minimum to cover pen¬ sions, immediate relief allotments and various essential indemnities for the military and civilian vic¬ tims and their survivors. While the issuance of the report could in a sense be accepted as one measure of official French reaction to the Potsdam decisions, comment at the French Foreign Office on the Big Three meeting took the line that the formation of the council of Foreign Ministers of Jie United States, Russia, Great Britain, France and China was warmly welcomed. To Draw Up Treaties The inclusion of France in this council, which is to draw up treaties with Italy, Romania, Bulgaria, Hungary and Finland, and to pro¬ pose settlements of territorial ques¬ tions, according to authoritaive quarters, marked a new step in the re-establishment of France as a great power. These quarters made it clear that France was to become eventually not merely a great Eu¬ ropean power but a great world power. If China, which had not particip¬ ated actively in the European war was entitled to share in the settle¬ ment of the European peace, it was reasoned in authoritative French quarters, then France by the same process would become a party in the councils that re-established order in the Pacific. Reading between the lines of this statement one could plainly per¬ ceive the recurrent fear that France is to be deprived of her rights and interests in Indo-China. Despite Washington and London comment to the contrary, French apprehension on this point persists. Finally the authoritative com¬ ment shifted to the subject of re¬ parations and indirectly pointed up the coincidence of the Big Three decisions and the publications of the French reparations claims. Apart from the Saar the French sources emphasized there was little of a profitable nature in the French zone; it consisted mostly of agricultural areas with limited resources. Break-down of Total This is how the French repara¬ tions claims came to total $97,860,- 000,000. The cost of Nazi spoliaton —making an armistice contract with Vichy and immediately there¬ after devaluating the French franc by half so as to give the mark a practical purchasing power—$46,840- 000,000. Destruction of various sorts, including damages of occupation, by Allied bbmbing and the Nazi retreat through France—$36,640,- 000,000. Damages to property, such as machinery burnt out in the frienzi- ed employ of the German war effort—$5,160,000,000. Damages to individual military and civilian victims—dead and wounded—$7,180,000,000. Special charges imposed on France by the Germans during their occupation—$2,040,000,000. The total cost was first worked out on the 1939 'value of the franc, and this value, a purely technical one, amounted to $20,800,000,000. But, due to the acute shortage of commodities in France as a result of the war and the unavoidable price inflation that followed, the total value of the reparations claims was multiplied by 3.4 to give the franc a truer value in the realities of the moment. Thus, the final figui'e arrived at was $97,- 860,000,000.