Department of External Affairs Minute

Notes for Makin on War Cabinet Agendum 320/1945 CANBERRA, 24 July 1945

REPARATIONS FROM GERMANY 1. The purposes of the agendum are:

(a) To explain the basis on which reparations claims against Germany are being considered by the Reparations Commission of the United Kingdom, United States and Soviet Union in Moscow.

(b) To have formally endorsed my action in reserving Australia’s full right to claim reparations against Germany ‘appropriate to the losses inflicted upon Australia and the contribution Australia has made to the defeat of Germany’. (See my telegram to Dominions Office of 21st June [1] appendix B of agendum.) (c) To approve my recommendation (Paragraph 18B of agendum) that appropriate Commonwealth agencies should compile a list of goods or other benefits which Australia might seek in settlement of her claim.

2. War Cabinet may also wish to consider whether Australia’s claim to reparations from Germany should be sustained on any other grounds than those suggested by the United Kingdom, viz:

‘(a) The war effort against Germany including- (1) Budgetary cost of the war.

(2) The number of man years served in the Forces and in manufacture of munitions respectively.

(3) Fatal military casualties.

(b) Losses of property in the war against Germany including- (i) Value of physical war damage on land.

(2) Value at pre-war prices of shipping lost.

(3) Value of overseas disinvestment i.e. net reduction in overseas investments and gold holdings plus net overseas borrowing.’ (See Paragraph 17 of agendum [2] and our reply to United Kingdom providing statistical information under above headings-copy of our telegram 188 of 17th July [3] attached.) [4]


1 Document 119.

2 Paragraph 17 noted that the supply of information on the costs of the Commonwealth Govt’s war effort under these headings should not commit Australia to claims based on this type of analysis rather than on the total Australian war effort.

3 On file AA : A1066, H45/1015, ii.

4 On 24 July War Cabinet (Minute 4342) confirmed Makin’s action in reserving Australia’s right to claim reparations and authorised him to confirm the claim formally should such action prove necessary. Approval was also given for the recommendation that appropriate Commonwealth agencies be responsible for compiling a list of goods and benefits which Australia might seek in settlement of its claims.


[AA : A1066, H45/1015, ii]