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A Shattered Peace: Versailles 1919 And The Pric...

The victorious powers in 1919 might have destroyed Germany entirely as an independent state. But such an attempt could only have brought immeasurable trouble upon Europe. Even the partitions of Poland did not do the receivers of the spoil any good, and the German people, who were greatly superior to the Poles in number and vigour, would have borne partition even less willingly in the long run. The makers of the Treaty of Versailles did not for obvious reasons take this course, but decided to leave the German Reich in existence. As a result of this decision, however, the conditions of peace should have been so formulated as to make it possible for Germany to exist under them. Nevertheless the Entente statesmen of 1919-23 could not bring themselves to adopt this obvious view. The territorial provisions and their execution involved intolerable hardships for Germany. And the financial demands of the Entente became fantastic. Such sums were required from Germany for reparations that in the shattered economic condition of the country could never even with the best will in the world have been raised. Germany was continually being forced to express its readiness to pay, and when it proved impossible to fulfil the obligations that had been extorted, the victors took punitive measures. No German government could maintain itself for any length of time under this pressure. Every attempt to put German economic life on to a sound footing was nipped in the bud. Confusion grew increasingly greater, and there seemed no way out of the blind alley.

A Shattered Peace: Versailles 1919 and the Pric...


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