Reparations, War, payments by a defeated nation to its conquerors as compensation for destruction during war. The Allied powers claimed heavy reparations from Germany after World War I but had difficulty collecting them. After World War II the Soviet Union and, to a lesser extent, the Western allies, collected reparations in materials directly from occupied German territory. After both wars, loans to defeated countries exceeded the reparations paid by them.
The chief justification for claiming reparations after the two World Wars was that Germany and its allies were guilty of starting the wars. Thus, the idea behind these reparations differed from earlier ideas of claiming tribute or war indemnity. After various 19th-century wars, victors demanded war indemnities simply to help them pay for military expenses. The largest amount was paid by France in 1870 after the Franco-Prussian War. At that time Germany demanded 5,000,000,000 francs. Much of this sum was tribute, since Germany's war expenses had not been that high.