Dimensions and limits

The dimension of the crimes that Germany had to answer for and the sheer scale of the suffering inflicted on the survivors of the millions of victims made just compensation impossible. However, it was hoped that, the ethical standards that Nazi society had eliminated through the Shoa, could be reinstated.

Thus the Federal Republic of Germany attempted to face up to its historical responsibility by at least developing offers of material compensation. The underlying idea was to place the claimants in the same position as comparable, unaffected sections of the population by financial, legal and non-material means. However, other foreign-policy interests influenced reparation policy as well. It was, among other things, an instrument for preparing the new German state's path back into the international community of nations as an equal member.

Official plaque of the Bavarian Restitution Office

The victims of persecution or their descendents were able to apply for the restitution of lost possessions, financial compensation for the deprivation of liberty and property, damage to health or lost earnings and educational opportunities. This also includes the compensation of levies on the Jews such as the Reich Flight Tax and the atonement tax. A total of approximately four million claims for compensation were filed under those programes. Until 2012 the Federal Republic made material reparation payment of some 69 billion Euro worldwide. Payments are still going on.

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