Friday, October 1, 2010

World War I Ends?

So, I was stunned when Janice last night pointed me towards a news story on NPR about how Germany is about to make the last of its War Reparation Payments imposed by the Treaty of Versailles eighty-one years ago.

No, really.

I knew that the payments --the classic, textbook example of a vindictive peace settlement-- crippled the German economy in the Twenties and crashed it altogether in the early Thirties. According to Allen's SINCE YESTERDAY, most of Herbert Hoover's attempts to deal with the Great Depression involved trying to work out loan repayment schedules between the Weimar Republic and the Allies; Roosevelt abandoned all that, reasoning it wd be all he cd do to save America from Hoover's mess, and the rest of the world wd have to look out for itself.

And now, all these years later, the last payment (of $100,000,000) is being made -- not to any of the Allies but to private investors who basically bought bonds in them years ago. Should be at least a small boost to Germany's economy to no longer have to make these payments, like finally paying off a credit card you'd run up. Except, of course, this was paying someone else's debt rather than yr own. In any case, an interesting little historical footnote.

Here's the link, both to the broadcast and its transcript:

--John R.

No comments: