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First World War officially ends

The final payment of £59.5 million, writes off the crippling debt that was the price for one world war and laid the foundations for another.

Germany was forced to pay the reparations at the Treaty of Versailles in 1919 as compensation to the war-ravaged nations of Belgium and France and to pay the Allies some of the costs of waging what was then the bloodiest conflict in history, leaving nearly ten million soldiers dead.

The initial sum agreed upon for war damages in 1919 was 226 billion Reichsmarks, a sum later reduced to 132 billion, £22 billion at the time.

The bill would have been settled much earlier had Adolf Hitler not reneged on reparations during his reign.

Hatred of the settlement agreed at Versailles, which crippled Germany as it tried to shape itself into a democracy following armistice, was of significant importance in propelling the Nazis to power.

"On Sunday the last bill is due and the First World War finally, financially at least, terminates for Germany," said Bild, the country's biggest selling newspaper.

Most of the money goes to private individuals, pension funds and corporations holding debenture bonds as agreed under the Treaty of Versailles, where Germany was made to sign the 'war guilt' clause, accepting blame for the war.

France, which had been ravaged by the war, pushed hardest for the steepest possible fiscal punishment for Germany.

The principal representative of the British Treasury at the Paris Peace Conference, John Maynard Keynes, resigned in June 1919 in protest at the scale of the demands.

"Germany will not be able to formulate correct policy if it cannot finance itself,' he warned.

When the Wall Street Crash came in 1929, the Weimar Republic spiralled into debt. Four years later, Hitler was elected Chancellor of Germany
12 Replies
bruce MN
Veteran Advisor

Re: First World War officially ends

Are we to assume that you put that up in an effort to relay to us that if everyone had only listened to Keynes that a bad situation might actually  not have gotten as bad as it did?

Re: First World War officially ends

Nope, just thought some one else might find the story interesting.
Red Steele
Senior Contributor

Re: First World War officially ends

I found it interesting.


We are in "interesting times" right now, too. I hope we are capable of electing officials with the cajones to tackle our debt and spending, and find a way to take on our enormous foreign debts and quit creating more. From what I see, I do not think it is possible.


The republicans seem to want to ignore it, the democrats seem to want to inflate the currency and pay it off with devalued dollars, all the while spending more and more.


I have said it before and it bears repeating..."somewhere in America, a neo-Adolf Hitler is waiting in the wings."


The times are right, the mood in America is right, and all it will take is the right spark.

bruce MN
Veteran Advisor

Re: First World War officially ends

I can see anarchy....and chaos and accompanying carnage. But I also expect that it will resist and consciously forgo centralized leadership. The "trouble" will be primarily local, and in very many places. Well have a total breakdown of law long before any [neo] anybody takes centralized power strong enough that it could do anything about that.


I seriously doubt that we can democraticly identify or elect a generally suitable leader. The last time we had a short run of them...that being democraticly elected Presidents who served over a generally placid populous who felt that they understood that the way to change was orderly democracy was probably Reagan and Bush 1.


And as they most Americans of that period sat around thinking all was somewhat orderly, the mechanisms were being put in place for the grandest overhaul of our society and our economy we have ever experienced.


The Obama administration is becoming a Shakesperean tragedy. Who knows for sure that at some point in time it won't be seen as having been heroic. But surely not in it's day. What we get to follow it will be more than a bit interesting.

Re: First World War officially ends

You're right about that, "interesting times".  There's some competitive currency devaluations going on right now that could create some serious tensions.  Everyone needs more of someone elses pie, everyone needs to dump more cash into their debt hole.     We're at some sort of turning point for sure, but I don't know which way it will go.   I take some comfort in the knowledge that America has a history of and reverence for freedom.  Other countries that have fallen for dictators have lacked this tradition, maybe it will be enough.  That plus we're pretty heavily armed as a populus.

Re: First World War officially ends

 the grandest overhaul of our society and our economy we have ever experienced.


Bull.   In my mind it would be a huge stretch to even put that period third in reshaping our economy and society.   I can think of at least 4, 5, or 6 I'd rank over that.    The Civil War being the top, New Deal a close second, War of 1812 that really opened up westward expansion, the 1907 panic through the Wilson admin completely reshaped the focus of the country,  WW2 and the period following.  There are plenty of others you could work in there, but in truth much of our current problems originate in some of those others periods I mentioned.

Veteran Advisor

Re: First World War officially ends

As the hugely underappreciated Kaiser Wilhelm II said, "they wanted the war that would end all wars but they got the peace that will end all peace."


But as to the notion of a grass roots revolution in America, I don't think it likely. What passed for as much has been cleanly and officially hijacked by corporations, plutocrats, political operators and the like.


The Med/Pharma Complex' death grip on America has as much to do with our decline and fiscal straits as anything and the old '93 playbook worked real fine. In fairness, the Dems are clueless as to the facts, just not quite as disingenuous.


The grass roots folks are marching for lower taxes for boob surgeons, tort lawyers, hedgies and other admirable folks who are said to provide jobs for the masses.


In reality, most of the grass roots folks are just interviewing for positions as overseers on the corporate plantation. Better'n being a $%^&*#.


I really don't feel bad, at all, about holding on for a try at keeping the system from crashing in order to have a constitutional change of leadership and the possiblity for real reform. Didn't happen and I'm not shocked, wasn't born yesterday.


I'm reverting to the anarchist mode. Let 'er 'appen, cap'n. No bailouts, no QE, balance the budget.


Don't think it will be pretty for commercial sized commodity farms, though.


Best, h



bruce MN
Veteran Advisor

Re: First World War officially ends

Those others...whether bringing progress or involving tragic conditions all involved a certain dynamism. Brought with them some degree of sustainable growth, albeit often expensive and hard to maintain, but generally agreeable and agreed upon. And all pretty much "out in the open". And likely presented to a more interested set of stakeholders.


The PTB, come the late 1970s, saw a suddenly quite mature organism and didn't like how it looked as it was becoming considerably too egalitarian and, to them, too flacid and set about to concentrate the blood of it in fewer vessels.  That hadn't happened on such a scale before, although I'd grant that the creation of the Fed was designed to essentially do just that. But there was alot of dynamic industrial growing and war fighting and such to be done soon after and the general sneakiness of it all got muddled up in that.

bruce MN
Veteran Advisor

Re: First World War officially ends

Karl Denninger is on to some funky goings on today. It's a partiuclarly pointed set of blog entries he has offered up.