Shrek wrote:The forced devaluation of occupied countries' currency applied across the board, not only in France.
The total contribution of occupied countries between 1940 and 1944 was estimated at (figures in RM million):
Italy (post-43): 10,000
France as the richest occupied country contributed the most booty. I've read somewhere that it was also more exploited as a % of resources than other western European countries but I don't have time to check by making the relevant calculations. Devaluation of the local currency is partly incorporated in the above figures, they were established by the wartime German authorities.
Essentially, forced devaluation is a way to levy additional occupation costs, i.e. extract more resources, from the point of view of the invader. This presents the additional benefit that the plundered country's administration is the one that has to cope with the consequences (inflation, rationing) so the cost of extracting that new "tax" is very low for the occupier as opposed to direct administration. The existence of Vichy France probably contributed to making things easier in France for the Germans than elsewhere as well.
Shrek wrote:In a way, the low exchange rates were just the continuation of the basic barter economy that Germany enforced on her neighbours prior to the war by forcing producers to buy German goods as payment for their exports.
Rather the opposite in fact. In exchange for easing the strain on its foreign currency reserves, Germany ended up accepting unfavorable terms of trade and the terms grew worse during the 1930's. Germany bought the agricultural surpluses of eastern Europe at prices which lay between 20% and 40% above world market levels, and ended up paying much higher than foreign purchasers offering convertible currencies like Britain and France. Germany therefore had to export increasing amounts per unit imported from southeast Europe.
The terms got better in the 1940-42 period, when Germany could bully its neighbor more than before the fall of France, but then they degraded again because to the balance has to be added as "export" the military aid sent to these countries to prop them up against Soviet advance. By 1944, Romanian oil was, when everything is accounted for, costing Germany dearly.