Re: Do Reparations Work? (a devil's advocate inquiry)

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Posted by Bill R on August 01, 2000 at 13:05:53:

In Reply to: Re: Do Reparations Work? (a devil's advocate inquiry) posted by Bea on August 01, 2000 at 09:39:58:

: : Vita brought up a good point. She noted that Hitler was a product of his generation, a German generation that saw the impact that imposed reparations had on their country's economy and morale. Regardless of what else may have made Hitler do the things he did, we cannot avoid the fact that HE saw what the Treaty of Versailles, especially on the part of France, did to Germany. Therefore, in this case, we must say that the imposition of war reparations on Germany was one of the key reasons not only for the rise of Hitler, who played up all the bad things that happened to Germany as a result of the treaty, but also for the start of WWII. I say this because the Treaty was out to punish Germany. I think that this is important since someone also pointed out to Vita that there is a need to make a distinction between compensation and punishment. What are we looking for when we say that reparations are to be made. Are we righting a wrong (i.e. giving back what was taken) or are we out to punish. The TOV apparently did both with disastrous results as France felt the fury of Die Furor not many years after the signing of the treaty. Ironically, Hitler had France sign articles of surrender in the same location where the Germans had to sign article for THEIR surrender after WWI.

: : So the question now is, do reparations work. It seems that in this case, they did not.

: :
: : Zapata.

: I have to agree with you , Zapata! And thank you for reminding us of the Treaty of Versailles. This is definitely where some of it began..
: Hmm.. makes me remember my histoy lessons in school.:)

: B

Yes indeed, the Treaty of Versailles definitely was designed to punish the Germans harshly and bring them to their knees. It was veangance pure and simple. However, I do believe that the Germans stopped paying reparations simply due to not having the money to fulfill those obligations. WWI was a shock to the international system, not least to Germany. I dont believe it was entirely the Treaty of Versailles that caused Germany's poor state, but an entire range of things - that war was costly. Germany was bled dry both in manpower and in money. Also, the "betrayal" portrayed by Hitler was as much or more propaganda as truth. They had to stop. They had no more to give. That the allies demanded such great punishment is understandable....for three years there was stalemate, and they didnt call the front "the meatgrinder" for nothing. It truly was a meatgrinder. Wilson wanted to be more forgiving and set up the League of Nations to arbitrate future differences, but European powers quickly sank that effort. After all, we had only been in the war one year. THEY had been fighting it for four years, and the first three all they did was pump men in front of the cannons and machine guns endlessly. It was horror in its purest definition, for the French and British especially.
We cannot imagine what it was like, even with WWII fresher in our memory. My grandfather was a courier and got around quite a bit. He has pictures taken of the trenches and the devastation.
One always stands out in my mind....a picture of what was obviously a mass grave of allies and Germans alike, which of necessity the bodies were dumped into. There were static lines and trenches remember.....and no way to effectively remove the bodies in such numbers.....well, that mass grave had been in itself shelled again and again...and then used as a part of the allied trenches. So the picture displays British and American and French soldiers standing in a trench, which is a mass grave really with exposed remains all over the place....staring out at the no-man's land and the enemy waiting for the next whistle to blow sending them into the meat grinder.

So it is no wonder the winners wanted to severely punish the losers. Was that right? Not in my mind. But it was understandable.

And what started it all? An assassination of a petty duke by a Serbian (emphasis on Serbian). But what really started it - the best description I have ever heard for WWI was that it was a family squabble. All the key kings, Emporers, and leaders French, English German, Russian etc were all related in one way or another as cousins etc. And the assassination only provided the excuse....they had been squabbling over empire for some time before the guns sounded.

Well, I go on without point again in my musings. Sorry.

Bill R

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