“We Live In A Time Of Growing Calls To Right The Wrongs Of The Past”
BBC History Magazine|January 2018
“We Live In A Time Of Growing Calls To Right The Wrongs Of The Past”

Can we ever apologise meaningfully for deeds done by others in the past? Can we right the wrongs of history? And what about reparations? Accepting moral guilt is one thing, materially making amends is quite another.

Michael Wood

Of course, compensation for physical damage and loss after aggressive war goes far back in history. Rome imposed large indemnities on Carthage after the Punic Wars. At the Treaty of Paris in 1815, France agreed to huge war reparations. The Germans and Japanese after 1945 were also held to account for crimes against humanity, especially the genocide of the Holocaust.

We live in a time of growing calls to right the wrongs of the past – such as Shashi Tharoor’s call for the British government to give reparations, albeit symbolic, for the damage it did to India – and, on the other side, rejections of the very idea of the attribution of historical guilt.


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January 2018