Before Argentina and Greece: Germany As a Debtor
Argentina and Greece may make the headlines, but behind the scenes the last act of Germany’s state, local, and private indebtedness incurred during the first quarter of the 20th Century is only now coming to a close. Shortly after the Great Inflation, the Weimar Government privatized its Versailles Treaty-based reparation obligations to France and Great Britain through the issue of bonds on the major markets of the era. Lower-level state, municipal and state-enterprise issues soon followed; even religious bodies took advantage of those markets’ thirst for such investments.
This presentation will provide a brief journey through the following decades – interest defaults first caused by economic, then by political decisions; increasingly coercive efforts to renegotiate these debts both before and during the Second World War; the collapse of the German state, leading in the West to the multilateral treaty renegotiations culminating in the London Debt Agreement of 1953 and in the East to denial of any obligation to address the problem; and the revival of further claims after reunification in 1990 before both German and foreign tribunals.
The story includes elements of constitutional and administrative law at the domestic level, and private- and public-international law at the transnational level. And all of this in one hour.