October 03, 2010

Worse Than A College Tuition Loan

Even though I cancelled our newspapers a long time ago (print is dead), I still keep up with the news through on-line sources and television.  On-line print is the best place to find unusual stories that the big media might not have enough time or interest to bring to the masses.

For example, I was under the impression that World War I, and everything pertaining to it, was over a long time ago.  Specifically, 92 years ago in 1918.

Not so ... that is until Sunday, October 3rd.  That is the day that Germany will pay the last installment of the reparations imposed on it by the Treaty of Versailles in 1919, one year after the war ended.  Under the terms of the Treaty, Germany was deemed solely responsible for World War I and was required to pay damages done to the Allied countries and peoples between 1914 and 1918. The total sum owed was determined to be 10.4 billion dollars, an overwhelming shitpot load of money for that era.

There was much debate at that time about what kind of strain the debt would put on the German people, and indeed, Uber-economist John Maynard Keynes bluntly stated that the Germans would not be able to formulate correct policy due to it's inability to finance itself. Prophetically, the Nazi party gained dominance of the German political scene in the late 1920's and 30's, and many historians credit the reparations as the main cause of World War II.

There were attempts to alleviate the strain on the German economy.  The Dawes Plan of 1924  and the Young Plan of 1929 granted Berlin loans to meet the reparation payments.  But these proved ineffective and when Adolf and his gang took over, all payments stopped. I can't say that I blame him, but it reminds me of an old classmate who skipped out on his college loans by moving and never leaving the government a forwarding address. I never knew if they caught up with him or not.

Of course, it would have been pretty stupid if Hitler had continued to pay the debt, particularly after his occupation of one of his principal payees, France.  And his continued payments might have resulted in something like this ...

General Von Rundstadt:  Mein Fuhrer!  The Allies have just invaded Normandy!  We must release the Panzer Corp to drive them back into the sea!

Adolf:  What, are you nuts?  I just made a 33 million mark reparations payment!  Do you know how much petrol those fucking tanks suck down?  Gas ain't cheap ya know.  We'll be eating Ramen noodles for a month now as it is!

Pretty embarrassing ...

Anyway, after Germany was defeated in World War II, it seemed the Allies had learned their lesson, and instead of charging more reparations, they just divied the country up between themselves, which didn't turn out to be such a good idea either.  After the Soviets took their share of the country and went home, it was decided that no more reparations would be paid until Germany was reunified. And sure enough, 20 years ago, the payments picked up again.

So, on October 3rd, the final payment of 94 million dollars will be made, ending the whole mess.  I'm sure the veterans of World War I will be glad to hear that ... and there are four of them left, believe it or not.


1 comment:

  1. I should echo your statement about print being dead. I just read about all of this yesterday, myself... and found myself wrapped in a web of info about reparations relating to various world wars. Crazy stuff, that info right there. Good post, Sir.