Effects of the provisions of the Versailles Treaty on Germany’s economy
Versailles treaty was the peace agreement signed in 1919 at the end of World War 1. The treaty unfortunately blamed the war squarely on Germany and as a result put forward punishments that according to the authors of Germany’s complaint on the outcome of the treaty harmed the economy of Germany as a nation (Bottom, 2003).
The treaty of Versailles, according to the authors of the Germany’s complaint highlighted the following measures that would hurt Germany’s economy (Kaiser, 2015):
France and Britain would govern Germany like a bankruptcy state.
Germany was forced to pay reparation of 132 billion gold Reichmarks, or 32 billion U.S. dollars, on top of the earlier 5 billion U.S. dollars payment demanded by the treaty. These reparations came at a time Germany’s economy was very weak-immediately after the war. As a result, only a small percentage was paid in hard currency. These reparations caused post-war hyperinflation that led to the near-collapse of the Germany economy.
Germany’s resources such as rivers as well as construction of infrastructure would be controlled by outside powers. For instance, in March 1921, France and Belgium troops annexed Duisburg and later in January 1923, extended their annexation to Ruhr area as a payback for Germany’s failure to pay reparations imposed by the Versailles treaty. This led to massive strikes by coal miners and railway workers which caused tremendous impact on transportation and production leading to hyperinflation (Hiden, 2014).
All property belonging to German citizens abroad would be annexed and all Germans would be barred from conducting trade with the civilized world.
The Guilt Clause had a psychological effect on the Germans. They felt ashamed and inferior to other nations. As a result there were social and political unrests in Germany that caused a negative impact on the economy.
How Germany ought to have been treated in line with President Wilson’s speech
President Woodrow Wilson in his speech maintains that, “no single fact caused the war, but that in the last analysis the whole European system is in a deeper sense responsible for the war…”However, this statement by President Wilson is contradicted when the Germans are forced to take full liability for the war. According to the authors, Germany should not have been held responsible for the damages of the war and forced to pay reparations at the end and surrender possessions of its railroads and canals to foreign nations. Moreover, they maintain that Germany should have been invited to form part of the League of Nations.
He suggested the theory of self-determination which the German authors fully support. This theory highlights the fundamental theories of self-governance such as the sovereignty of a nation and its citizens. However, the German authors maintain that the Versailles treaty do not follow this theory. Germany lost her sovereignty when other nations such as France and Belgium annexed her territory, lost her assets; including colonies, land and its population. The nation according to the authors should have been allowed to govern itself and have equal rights without foreign interference and also govern her colonies. They argue further, that forcing Germany to pay reparations caused her hyperinflation making it hard for her to compete in the world economy (Bresciani-Turroni, 2013).
President Wilson during the formation of the League of Nations states that, “this League of Nations would unite the belligerents, conquerors as well as conquered in a permanent system of common rights." Following this statement, Germany ought to have been allowed to be part of the League of Nations.
To strengthen German assertions, the document appeals to the following higher fundamental law
An appeal is made by the authors on the fundamental law highlighted in the Versailles Treaty. This law provided that every human being and nation should have a right to self-determination and self-preservation and this right must be respected by all (Brower, etal,2013).The authors argued that under fundamental law, the people of Germany should have had a say in the decision on whether they accepted blame for the war or not. They also should not have been subjected to punitive measures such as annexation of their territories, forceful reparations, among other punitive measures.
How Germany was treated according to the authors of the complaint. Was it justified? Response to the complaint made by the defenders of the treaty
Yes, Germany was treated unfairly after World War 1. After the war, all parties to the war ought to have been held responsible for the role they played. Each nation had suffered similar consequences and hence picking out Germany for victimization was quite unfair (Marks, 2013).
Although partially liable just like all the other parties, they did not deserve severe punitive measures such as being broken into pieces like the Alsace-Lorraine, Memel, and Danzig. The economic situation in Germany as a result of victimization led to the rise of Dictator Adolf Hitler. Defender of the treaty might have argued that Germany provoked the war to start and hence other nations were simply compelled to join in to defend themselves.
Bottom, W. P. (2003). Keynes' attack on the Versailles Treaty: An early investigation of the consequences of bounded rationality, framing, and cognitive illusions. International Negotiation, 8(2), 367-402.
Marks, S. (2013). Mistakes and Myths: The Allies, Germany, and the Versailles Treaty, 1918–1921. The Journal of Modern History, 85(3), 632-659.
Kaiser, D. E. (2015). Economic Diplomacy and the Origins of the Second World War: Germany, Britain, France, and Eastern Europe, 1930-1939. Princeton University Press.
Bresciani-Turroni, C. (2013). The Economics of Inflation: A study of currency depreciation in post-war Germany, 1914-1923. Routledge.
Hiden, J. (2014). Germany and Europe 1919-1939. Routledge.Brower, Daniel R., Thomas Sanders. The World in the Twentieth Century, 7th Edition. Pearson Learning Solutions, 07/2013. VitalSource Bookshelf Online.