My book recounts the history of income and wealth, including that of nations. What struck me while I was writing is that Germany is really the single best example of a country that, throughout its history, has never repaid its external debt. Neither after the First nor the Second World War. However, it has frequently made other nations pay up, such as after the Franco-Prussian War of 1870, when it demanded massive reparations from France and indeed received them. The French state suffered for decades under this debt. The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.The fine upstanding German state, I'm sure, deserved its debt relief.
(The German newspaper Die Zeit (The Times) posted this interview in German. An authorized English translation is available at the Indian site, The Wire. Google's mechanical translation is here.)
(Updated July 17, 2015, to include the English translation.)