Waleed Y. Majeed wrote:
I would have to agree. The Telegraph
got some of it wrong. I think this would
be more correct:
The plundering of the property of German Jews was accompanied by looting in the conquered territories, which reached at least 119 billion Marks through "war contributions" from the occupied and allied countries by May 1945 - about 30% of the Wehrmacht's needs
Even this must somewhat misstate matters. Did all this wealth simply flow with 100% efficiency into the Wehrmacht's coffers?
One is inclined to doubt it. Even absent Goering collecting paintings et al, there is the fact that much or most of it all helped the German war effort considerably more indirectly. Ukrainian wheat made it possible to draft German farm workers, etc. Then too, Germany was under rigorous rationing even before the war. The policy of allowing massive public and private shipments of acquisitions back to the Reich helped to make such deprivation tolerable. Germans could use Dutch cheese instead, and so on. How one would quantify that effect and how it translated into more Tigers at Kursk I'm not sure how one would say.
Then too, too what extent it was 'plundering' often varied, and I don't see how the quantity of it could reasonably be assessed. The 'plundering' ran the gamut from simple seizure to purchases made with artificially inflated marks to perfectly legitimate business transactions. One is reminded of the 'forced trade' model used to describe the practices of the Vikings. To what extent was it looting and to what extent trade? Well, the deal tended to vary according to the strength of the town's defenses and the size of the Viking band...
To get back to the Germans, what was happening clearly varied. Certainly if they bought Oerlikons from Switzerland, it wouldn't be 'plunder.' At the same time, it would probably behoove Switzerland not to make her price exorbitant. At the other extreme, if a Ukrainian village did
give up its wheat quota willingly, well, it wouldn't get sacked and burnt, and it might get passed over in the next labor levy. Gnome-Rhone built engines for the Luftwaffe
. It presumably got paid -- even if in inflated marks. Finally, Major _____ discovers a wine cellar on this chateau. He wants to buy the contents for one hundred marks. Is it a good idea to say no? You decide...
The points are that even the figure of 119 billion for all expropriations leaves unanswered who got all that wealth, and it is kind of suspect number in the first place. How is it arrived at, and how are all the transactions quantified? One would want to read the whole book to know what to think of it. It's like one of those claims that pre-Columbian Mexico had a population of forty million. Go back and look at the original paper.