The Economic Consequences of the Peace

Keynes, John Maynard
(1883-1946)
CEE
Display paragraphs in this book containing:
Editor/Trans.
First Pub. Date
1919
Publisher/Edition
New York: Harcourt, Brace, and Howe, Inc.
Pub. Date
1920
Comments

1. [1] In 1913 there were 25,843 emigrants from Germany, of whom 19,124 went to the United States.

2. [2] The net decrease of the German population at the end of 1918 by decline of births and excess of deaths as compared with the beginning of 1914, is estimated at about 2,700,000.

3. [3] Including Poland and Finland, but excluding Siberia, Central Asia, and the Caucasus.

4. [4] Sums of money mentioned in this book in terms of dollars have been converted from pounds sterling at the rate of $5 to £1.

5. [5] Even since 1914 the population of the United States has increased by seven or eight millions. As their annual consumption of wheat per head is not less than 6 bushels, the pre-war scale of production in the United States would only show a substantial surplus over present domestic requirements in about one year out of five. We have been saved for the moment by the great harvests of 1918 and 1919, which have been called forth by Mr. Hoover's guaranteed price. But the United States can hardly be expected to continue indefinitely to raise by a substantial figure the cost of living in its own country, in order to provide wheat for a Europe which cannot pay for it.

Part I, Chapter III

6. [6] He alone amongst the Four could speak and understand both languages, Orlando knowing only French and the Prime Minister and President only English; and it is of historical importance that Orlando and the President had no direct means of communication.

Part I, Chapter IV

7. [7] The precise force of this reservation is discussed in detail in Chapter V.

8. [8] I also omit those which have no special relevance to the German Settlement. The second of the Fourteen Points, which relates to the Freedom of the Seas, is omitted because the Allies did not accept it. Any italics are mine.

9. [9] Part VIII. Annex III. (1).

10. [10] Part VIII. Annex III. (3).

11. [11] In the years before the war the average shipbuilding output of Germany was about 350,000 tons annually, exclusive of warships.

12. [12] Part VIII. Annex III. (5).

13. [13] Art. 119.

14. [14] Arts. 120 and 257.

15. [15] Art. 122.

16. [16] Arts. 121 and 297 (b). The exercise or non-exercise of this option of expropriation appears to lie, not with the Reparation Commission, but with the particular Power in whose territory the property has become situated by cession or mandation.

17. [17] Art. 297 (h) and para. 4 of Annex to Part X. Section IV.

18. [18] Arts. 53 and 74.

19. [19] In 1871 Germany granted France credit for the railways of Alsace-Lorraine but not for State property. At that time, however, the railways were private property. As they afterwards became the property of the German Government, the French Government have held, in spite of the large additional capital which Germany has sunk in them, that their treatment must follow the precedent of State property generally.

20. [20] Arts. 55 and 255. This follows the precedent of 1871.

21. [21] Art. 297 (b).

22. [22] Part X. Sections III. and IV. and Art. 243.

23. [23] The interpretation of the words between inverted commas is a little dubious. The phrase is so wide as to seem to include private debts. But in the final draft of the Treaty private debts are not explicitly referred to.

24. [24] This provision is mitigated in the case of German property in Poland and the other new States, the proceeds of liquidation in these areas being payable direct to the owner (Art. 92).

25. [25] Part X. Section IV. Annex, para. 10: "Germany will, within six months from the coming into force of the present Treaty, deliver to each Allied or Associated Power all securities, certificates, deeds, or other documents of title held by its nationals and relating to property, rights, or interests situated in the territory of that Allied or Associated Power.... Germany will at any time on demand of any Allied or Associated Power furnish such information as may be required with regard to the property, rights, and interests of German nationals within the territory of such Allied or Associated Power, or with regard to any transactions concerning such property, rights, or interests effected since July 1, 1914"

26. [26] "Any public utility undertaking or concession" is a vague phrase, the precise interpretation of which is not provided for.

27. [27] Art. 260.

28. [28] Art. 235.

29. [29] Art. 118.

30. [30] Arts. 129 and 132.

31. [31] Arts. 135-137.

32. [32] Arts. 135-140.

33. [33] Art. 141: "Germany renounces all rights, titles and privileges conferred on her by the General Act of Algeciras of April 7, 1906, and by the Franco-German Agreements, of Feb. 9, 1909, and Nov. 4, 1911....."

34. [34] Art. 148: "All treaties, agreements, arrangements and contracts concluded by Germany with Egypt are regarded as abrogated from Aug. 4, 1914." Art. 153: "All property and possessions in Egypt of the German Empire and the German States pass to the Egyptian Government without payment."

35. [35] Art. 289.

36. [36] Art. 45.

37. [37] Part IV. Section IV. Annex, Chap. III.

38. [38] "We take over the ownership of the Sarre mines, and in order not to be inconvenienced in the exploitation of these coal deposits, we constitute a distinct little estate for the 600,000 Germans who inhabit this coal basin, and in fifteen years we shall endeavor by a plebiscite to bring them to declare that they want to be French. We know what that means. During fifteen years we are going to work on them, to attack them from every point, till we obtain from them a declaration of love. It is evidently a less brutal proceeding than the coup de force which detached from us our Alsatians and Lorrainers. But if less brutal, it is more hypocritical. We know quite well between ourselves that it is an attempt to annex these 600,000 Germans. One can understand very well the reasons of an economic nature which have led Clemenceau to wish to give us these Sarre coal deposits, but in order to acquire them must we give ourselves the appearance of wanting to juggle with 600,000 Germans in order to make Frenchmen of them in fifteen years?" (M. Hervé in La Victoire, May 31, 1919).

39. [39] This plebiscite is the most important of the concessions accorded to Germany in the Allies' Final Note, and one for which Mr. Lloyd George, who never approved the Allies' policy on the Eastern frontiers of Germany, can claim the chief credit. The vote cannot take place before the spring of 1920, and may be postponed until 1921. In the meantime the province will be governed by an Allied Commission. The vote will be taken by communes, and the final frontiers will be determined by the Allies, who shall have regard, partly to the results of the vote in each commune, and partly "to the geographical and economic conditions of the locality." It would require great local knowledge to predict the result. By voting Polish, a locality can escape liability for the indemnity, and for the crushing taxation consequent on voting German, a factor not to be neglected. On the other hand, the bankruptcy and incompetence of the new Polish State might deter those who were disposed to vote on economic rather than on racial grounds. It has also been stated that the conditions of life in such matters as sanitation and social legislation are incomparably better in Upper Silesia than in the adjacent districts of Poland, where similar legislation is in its infancy. The argument in the text assumes that Upper Silesia will cease to be German. But much may happen in a year, and the assumption is not certain. To the extent that it proves erroneous the conclusions must be modified.

40. [40] German authorities claim, not without contradiction, that to judge from the votes cast at elections, one-third of the population would elect in the Polish interest, and two-thirds in the German.

41. [41] It must not be overlooked, however, that, amongst the other concessions relating to Silesia accorded in the Allies' Final Note, there has been included Article 90, by which "Poland undertakes to permit for a period of fifteen years the exportation to Germany of the products of the mines in any part of Upper Silesia transferred to Poland in accordance with the present Treaty. Such products shall be free from all export duties or other charges or restrictions on exportation. Poland agrees to take such steps as may be necessary to secure that any such products shall be available for sale to purchasers in Germany on terms as favorable as are applicable to like products sold under similar conditions to purchasers in Poland or in any other country." This does not apparently amount to a right of preemption, and it is not easy to estimate its effective practical consequences. It is evident, however, that in so far as the mines are maintained at their former efficiency, and in so far as Germany is in a position to purchase substantially her former supplies from that source, the loss is limited to the effect on her balance of trade, and is without the more serious repercussions on her economic life which are contemplated in the text. Here is an opportunity for the Allies to render more tolerable the actual operation of the settlement. The Germans, it should be added, have pointed out that the same economic argument which adds the Saar fields to France, allots Upper Silesia to Germany. For whereas the Silesian mines are essential to the economic life of Germany, Poland does not need them. Of Poland's pre-war annual demand of 10,500,000 tons, 6,800,000 tons were supplied by the indisputably Polish districts adjacent to Upper Silesia, 1,500,000 tons from Upper Silesia (out of a total Upper Silesian output of 43,500,000 tons), and the balance from what is now Czecho-Slovakia. Even without any supply from Upper Silesia and Czecho-Slovakia, Poland could probably meet her requirements by the fuller exploitation of her own coalfields which are not yet scientifically developed, or from the deposits of Western Galicia which are now to be annexed to her.

42. [42] France is also to receive annually for three years 35,000 tons of benzol, 50,000 tons of coal tar, and 30,000 tons of sulphate of ammonia.

43. [43] The Reparation Commission is authorized under the Treaty (Part VIII. Annex V. para. 10) "to postpone or to cancel deliveries" if they consider "that the full exercise of the foregoing options would interfere unduly with the industrial requirements of Germany." In the event of such postponements or cancellations "the coal to replace coal from destroyed mines shall receive priority over other deliveries." This concluding clause is of the greatest importance, if, as will be seen, it is physically impossible for Germany to furnish the full 45,000,000; for it means that France will receive 20,000,000 tons before Italy receives anything. The Reparation Commission has no discretion to modify this. The Italian Press has not failed to notice the significance of the provision, and alleges that this clause was inserted during the absence of the Italian representatives from Paris (Corriers della Sera, July 19, 1919).

44. [44] It follows that the current rate of production in Germany has sunk to about 60 per cent of that of 1913. The effect on reserves has naturally been disastrous, and the prospects for the coming winter are dangerous.

45. [45] This assumes a loss of output of 15 per cent as compared with the estimate of 30 per cent quoted above.

46. [46] This supposes a loss of 25 per cent of Germany's industrial undertaking and a diminution of 13 per cent in her other requirements.

47. [47] The reader must be reminded in particular that the above calculations take no account of the German production of lignite, which yielded in 1913 13,000,000 tons of rough lignite in addition to an amount converted into 21,000,000 tons of briquette. This amount of lignite, however, was required in Germany before the war in addition to the quantities of coal assumed above. I am not competent to speak on the extent to which the loss of coal can be made good by the extended use of lignite or by economies in its present employment; but some authorities believe that Germany may obtain substantial compensation for her loss of coal by paying more attention to her deposits of lignite.

48. [48] Mr. Hoover, in July, 1919, estimated that the coal output of Europe, excluding Russia and the Balkans, had dropped from 679,500,000 tons to 443,000,000 tons,—as a result in a minor degree of loss of material and labor, but owing chiefly to a relaxation of physical effort after the privations and sufferings of the war, a lack of rolling-stock and transport, and the unsettled political fate of some of the mining districts.

49. [49] Numerous commercial agreements during the war were arranged on these lines. But in the month of June, 1919, alone, minor agreements providing for payment in coal were made by Germany with Denmark, Norway, and Switzerland. The amounts involved were not large, but without them Germany could not have obtained butter from Denmark, fats and herrings from Norway, or milk and cattle from Switzerland.

50. [50] "Some 60,000 Ruhr miners have agreed to work extra shifts—so-called butter-shifts—for the purpose of furnishing coal for export to Denmark, whence butter will be exported in return. The butter will benefit the miners in the first place, as they have worked specially to obtain it" (Kölnische Zeitung, June 11, 1919).

51. [51] What of the prospects of whisky-shifts in England?

52. [52] As early as September, 1919, the Coal Commission had to face the physical impracticability of enforcing the demands of the Treaty, and agreed to modify them as follows:—"Germany shall in the next six months make deliveries corresponding to an annual delivery of 20 million tons as compared with 43 millions as provided in the Peace Treaty. If Germany's total production exceeds the present level of about 108 millions a year, 60 per cent of the extra production, up to 128 millions, shall be delivered to the Entente and 50 per cent of any extra beyond that, until the figure provided in the Peace Treaty is reached. If the total production falls below 108 millions the Entente will examine the situation, after hearing Germany, and take account of it."

53. [53] 21,136,265 tons out of a total of 28,607,903 tons. The loss of iron-ore in respect of Upper Silesia is insignificant. The exclusion of the iron and steel of Luxemburg from the German Customs Union is, however, important, especially when this loss is added to that of Alsace-Lorraine. It may be added in passing that Upper Silesia includes 75 per cent of the zinc production of Germany.

54. [54] In April, 1919, the British Ministry of Munitions despatched an expert Commission to examine the conditions of the iron and steel works in Lorraine and the occupied areas of Germany. The Report states that the iron and steel works in Lorraine, and to a lesser extent in the Saar Valley, are dependent on supplies of coal and coke from Westphalia. It is necessary to mix Westphalian coal with Saar coal to obtain a good furnace coke. The entire dependence of all the Lorraine iron and steel works upon Germany for fuel supplies "places them," says the Report, "in a very unenviable position."

55. [55] Arts. 264, 265, 266, and 267. These provisions can only be extended beyond five years by the Council of the League of Nations.

56. [56] Art. 268 (a).

57. [57] Art. 268 (b) and (c).

58. [58] The Grand Duchy is also deneutralized and Germany binds herself to "accept in advance all international arrangements which may be concluded by the Allied and Associated Powers relating to the Grand Duchy" (Art. 40). At the end of September, 1919, a plebiscite was held to determine whether Luxemburg should join the French or the Belgian Customs Union, which decided by a substantial majority in favor of the former. The third alternative of the maintenance of the union with Germany was not left open to the electorate.

59. [59] Art. 269

60. [60] Art. 270.

61. [61] The occupation provisions may be conveniently summarized at this point. German territory situated west of the Rhine, together with the bridge-heads, is subject to occupation for a period of fifteen years (Art. 428). If, however, "the conditions of the present Treaty are faithfully carried out by Germany," the Cologne district will be evacuated after five years, and the Coblenz district after ten years (Art. 429). It is, however, further provided that if at the expiration of fifteen years "the guarantees against unprovoked aggression by Germany are not considered sufficient by the Allied and Associated Governments, the evacuation of the occupying troops may be delayed to the extent regarded as necessary for the purpose of obtaining the required guarantees" (Art. 429); and also that "in case either during the occupation or after the expiration of the fifteen years, the Reparation Commission finds that Germany refuses to observe the whole or part of her obligations under the present Treaty with regard to Reparation, the whole or part of the areas specified in Article 429 will be re-occupied immediately by the Allied and Associated Powers" (Art. 430). Since it will be impossible for Germany to fulfil the whole of her Reparation obligations, the effect of the above provisions will be in practice that the Allies will occupy the left bank of the Rhine just so long as they choose. They will also govern it in such manner as they may determine (e.g. not only as regards customs, but such matters as the respective authority of the local German representatives and the Allied Governing Commission), since "all matters relating to the occupation and not provided for by the present Treaty shall be regulated by subsequent agreements, which Germany hereby undertakes to observe" (Art. 432). The actual Agreement under which the occupied areas are to be administered for the present has been published as a White Paper [Cd. 222]. The supreme authority is to be in the hands of an Inter-Allied Rhineland Commission, consisting of a Belgian, a French, a British, and an American member. The articles of this Agreement are very fairly and reasonably drawn.

62. [62] Art. 365. After five years this Article is subject to revision by the Council of the League of Nations.

63. [63] The German Government withdrew, as from September 1, 1919, all preferential railway tariffs for the export of iron and steel goods, on the ground that these privileges would have been more than counterbalanced by the corresponding privileges which, under this Article of the Treaty, they would have been forced to give to Allied traders.

64. [64] Art. 367.

65. [65] Questions of interpretation and application are to be referred to the League of Nations (Art. 376).

66. [66] Art. 250.

67. [67] Art. 371. This provision is even applied "to the lines of former Russian Poland converted by Germany to the German gage, such lines being regarded as detached from the Prussian State System."

68. [68] Arts. 332-337. Exception may be taken, however, to the second paragraph of Art. 332, which allows the vessels of other nations to trade between German towns but forbids German vessels to trade between non-German towns except with special permission; and Art. 333, which prohibits Germany from making use of her river system as a source of revenue, may be injudicious.

69. [69] The Niemen and the Moselle are to be similarly treated at a later date if required.

70. [70] Art. 338.

71. [71] Art. 344. This is with particular reference to the Elbe and the Oder; the Danube and the Rhine are dealt with in relation to the existing Commissions.

72. [72] Art. 339.

73. [73] Art. 357.

74. [74] Art. 358. Germany is, however, to be allowed some payment or credit in respect of power so taken by France.

75. [75] Art. 66.

Part I, Chapter V

1. [1] "With reservation that any future claims and demands of the Allies and the United States of America remain unaffected, the following financial conditions are required: Reparation for damage done. Whilst Armistice lasts, no public securities shall be removed by the enemy which can serve as a pledge to the Allies for recovery or reparation of war losses. Immediate restitution of cash deposit in National Bank of Belgium, and, in general, immediate return of all documents, of specie, stock, shares, paper money, together with plant for issue thereof, touching public or private interests in invaded countries. Restitution of Russian and Roumanian gold yielded to Germany or taken by that Power. This gold to be delivered in trust to the Allies until signature of peace."

2. [2] It is to be noticed, in passing, that they contain nothing which limits the damage to damage inflicted contrary to the recognized rules of warfare. That is to say, it is permissible to include claims arising out of the legitimate capture of a merchantman at sea, as well as the costs of illegal submarine warfare.

3. [3] Mark-paper or mark-credits owned in ex-occupied territory by Allied nationals should be included, if at all, in the settlement of enemy debts, along with other sums owed to Allied nationals, and not in connection with reparation.

4. [4] A special claim on behalf of Belgium was actually included in the Peace Treaty, and was accepted by the German representatives without demur.

5. [5] To the British observer, one scene, however, stood out distinguished from the rest—the field of Ypres. In that desolate and ghostly spot, the natural color and humors of the landscape and the climate seemed designed to express to the traveler the memories of the ground. A visitor to the salient early in November, 1918, when a few German bodies still added a touch of realism and human horror, and the great struggle was not yet certainly ended, could feel there, as nowhere else, the present outrage of war, and at the same time the tragic and sentimental purification which to the future will in some degree transform its harshness.

6. [6] These notes, estimated to amount to no less than six thousand million marks, are now a source of embarrassment and great potential loss to the Belgian Government, inasmuch as on their recovery of the country they took them over from their nationals in exchange for Belgian notes at the rate of Fr. 1.20 = Mk. 1. This rate of exchange, being substantially in excess of the value of the mark-notes at the rate of exchange current at the time (and enormously in excess of the rate to which the mark-notes have since fallen, the Belgian franc being now worth more than three marks), was the occasion of the smuggling of mark-notes into Belgium on an enormous scale, to take advantage of the profit obtainable. The Belgian Government took this very imprudent step, partly because they hoped to persuade the Peace Conference to make the redemption of these bank-notes, at the par of exchange, a first charge on German assets. The Peace Conference held, however, that Reparation proper must take precedence of the adjustment of improvident banking transactions effected at an excessive rate of exchange. The possession by the Belgian Government of this great mass of German currency, in addition to an amount of nearly two thousand million marks held by the French Government which they similarly exchanged for the benefit of the population of the invaded areas and of Alsace-Lorraine, is a serious aggravation of the exchange position of the mark. It will certainly be desirable for the Belgian and German Governments to come to some arrangement as to its disposal, though this is rendered difficult by the prior lien held by the Reparation Commission over all German assets available for such purposes.

7. [7] It should be added, in fairness, that the very high claims put forward on behalf of Belgium generally include not only devastation proper, but all kinds of other items, as, for example, the profits and earnings which Belgians might reasonably have expected to earn if there had been no war.

8. [8] "The Wealth and Income of the Chief Powers," by J. C. Stamp (Journal of the Royal Statistical Society, July, 1919).

9. [9] Other estimates vary from $12,100,000,000 to $13,400,000,000. See Stamp, loc cit.

10. [10] This was clearly and courageously pointed out by M. Charles Gide in L'Emanoipation for February, 1919.

11. [11] For details of these and other figures, see Stamp, loc. cit.

12. [12] Even when the extent of the material damage has been established, it will be exceedingly difficult to put a price on it, which must largely depend on the period over which restoration is spread, and the methods adopted. It would be impossible to make the damage good in a year or two at any price, and an attempt to do so at a rate which was excessive in relation to the amount of labor and materials at hand might force prices up to almost any level. We must, I think, assume a cost of labor and materials about equal to that current in the world generally. In point of fact, however, we may safely assume that literal restoration will never be attempted. Indeed, it would be very wasteful to do so. Many of the townships were old and unhealthy, and many of the hamlets miserable. To re-erect the same type of building in the same places would be foolish. As for the land, the wise course may be in some cases to leave long strips of it to Nature for many years to come. An aggregate money sum should be computed as fairly representing the value of the material damage, and France should be left to expend it in the manner she thinks wisest with a view to her economic enrichment as a whole. The first breeze of this controversy has already blown through France. A long and inconclusive debate occupied the Chamber during the spring of 1919, as to whether inhabitants of the devastated area receiving compensation should be compelled to expend it in restoring the identical property, or whether they should be free to use it as they like. There was evidently a great deal to be said on both sides; in the former case there would be much hardship and uncertainty for owners who could not, many of them, hope to recover the effective use of their property perhaps for years to come, and yet would not be free to set themselves up elsewhere; on the other hand, if such persons were allowed to take their compensation and go elsewhere, the countryside of Northern France would never be put right. Nevertheless I believe that the wise course will be to allow great latitude and let economic motives take their own course.

13. [13] La Richesse de la France devant la Guerre, published in 1916.

14. [14] Revue Bleue, February 3, 1919. This is quoted in a very valuable selection of French estimates and expressions of opinion, forming chapter iv. of La Liquidation financière de la Guerre, by H. Charriaut and R. Hacault. The general magnitude of my estimate is further confirmed by the extent of the repairs already effected, as set forth in a speech delivered by M. Tardieu on October 10, 1919, in which he said: "On September 16 last, of 2246 kilomètres of railway track destroyed, 2016 had been repaired; of 1075 kilomètres of canal, 700; of 1160 constructions, such as bridges and tunnels, which had been blown up, 588 had been replaced; of 550,000 houses ruined by bombardment, 60,000 had been rebuilt; and of 1,800,000 hectares of ground rendered useless by battle, 400,000 had been recultivated, 200,000 hectares of which are now ready to be sown. Finally, more than 10,000,000 mètres of barbed wire had been removed."

15. [15] Some of these estimates include allowance for contingent and immaterial damage as well as for direct material injury.

16. [16] A substantial part of this was lost in the service of the Allies; this must not be duplicated by inclusion both in their claims and in ours.

17. [17] The fact that no separate allowance is made in the above for the sinking of 675 fishing vessels of 71,765 tons gross, or for the 1885 vessels of 8,007,967 tons damaged or molested, but not sunk, may be set off against what may be an excessive figure for replacement cost.

18. [18] The losses of the Greek mercantile marine were excessively high, as a result of the dangers of the Mediterranean; but they were largely incurred on the service of the other Allies, who paid for them directly or indirectly. The claims of Greece for maritime losses incurred on the service of her own nationals would not be very considerable.

19. [19] There is a reservation in the Peace Treaty on this question. "The Allied and Associated Powers formally reserve the right of Russia to obtain from Germany restitution and reparation based on the principles of the present Treaty" (Art. 116).

20. [20] Dr. Diouritch in his "Economic and Statistical Survey of the Southern Slav Nations" (Journal of Royal Statistical Society, May, 1919), quotes some extraordinary figures of the loss of life: "According to the official returns, the number of those fallen in battle or died in captivity up to the last Serbian offensive, amounted to 320,000, which means that one half of Serbia's male population, from 18 to 60 years of age, perished outright in the European War. In addition, the Serbian Medical Authorities estimate that about 300,000 people have died from typhus among the civil population, and the losses among the population interned in enemy camps are estimated at 50,000. During the two Serbian retreats and during the Albanian retreat the losses among children and young people are estimated at 200,000. Lastly, during over three years of enemy occupation, the losses in lives owing to the lack of proper food and medical attention are estimated at 250,000." Altogether, he puts the losses in life at above 1,000,000, or more than one-third of the population of Old Serbia.

21. [21] Come si calcola e a quanto ammonta la richezza d'Italia e delle altre principali nazioni, published in 1919.

22. [22] Very large claims put forward by the Serbian authorities include many hypothetical items of indirect and non-material damage; but these, however real, are not admissible under our present formula.

23. [23] Assuming that in her case $1,250,000,000 are included for the general expenses of the war defrayed out of loans made to Belgium by her allies.

24. [24] It must be said to Mr. Hughes' honor that he apprehended from the first the bearing of the pre-Armistice negotiations on our right to demand an indemnity covering the full costs of the war, protested against our ever having entered into such engagements, and maintained loudly that he had been no party to them and could not consider himself bound by them. His indignation may have been partly due to the fact that Australia, not having been ravaged, would have no claims at all under the more limited interpretation of our rights.

25. [25] The whole cost of the war has been estimated at from $120,000,000,000 upwards. This would mean an annual payment for interest (apart from sinking fund) of $6,000,000,000. Could any expert Committee have reported that Germany can pay this sum?

26. [26] But unhappily they did not go down with their flags flying very gloriously. For one reason or another their leaders maintained substantial silence. What a different position in the country's estimation they might hold now if they had suffered defeat amidst firm protests against the fraud, chicane, and dishonor of the whole proceedings.

27. [27] Only after the most painful consideration have I written these words. The almost complete absence of protest from the leading Statesmen of England makes one feel that one must have made some mistake. But I believe that I know all the facts, and I can discover no such mistake. In any case, I have set forth all the relevant engagements in Chapter IV. and at the beginning of this chapter, so that the reader can form his own judgment.

28. [28] In conversation with Frenchmen who were private persons and quite unaffected by political considerations, this aspect became very clear You might persuade them that some current estimates as to the amount to be got out of Germany were quite fantastic. Yet at the end they would always come back to where they had started: "But Germany must pay; for, otherwise, what is to happen to France?"

29. [29] A further paragraph claims the war costs of Belgium "in accordance with Germany's pledges, already given, as to complete restoration for Belgium."

30. [30] The challenge of the other Allies, as well as of the enemy, had to be met; for in view of the limited resources of the latter, the other Allies had perhaps a greater interest than the enemy in seeing that no one of their number established an excessive claim.

31. [31] M. Klotz has estimated the French claims on this head at $15,000,000,000 (75 milliard francs, made up of 13 milliard for allowances, 60 for pensions, and 2 for widows). If this figure is correct, the others should probably be scaled up also.

32. [32] That is to say, I claim for the aggregate figure an accuracy within 25 per cent.

33. [33] In his speech of September 5, 1919, addressed to the French Chamber, M. Klotz estimated the total Allied claims against Germany under the Treaty at $75,000,000,000, which would accumulate at interest until 1921, and be paid off thereafter by 34 annual instalments of about $5,000,000,000 each, of which France would receive about $2,750,000,000 annually. "The general effect of the statement (that France would receive from Germany this annual payment) proved," it is reported, "appreciably encouraging to the country as a whole, and was immediately reflected in the improved tone on the Bourse and throughout the business world in France." So long as such statements can be accepted in Paris without protest, there can be no financial or economic future for France, and a catastrophe of disillusion is not far distant.

34. [34] As a matter of subjective judgment, I estimate for this figure an accuracy of 10 per cent in deficiency and 20 per cent in excess, i.e. that the result will lie between $32,000,000,000 and $44,000,000,000.

35. [35] Germany is also liable under the Treaty, as an addition to her liabilities for Reparation, to pay all the costs of the Armies of Occupation after Peace is signed for the fifteen subsequent years of occupation. So far as the text of the Treaty goes, there is nothing to limit the size of these armies, and France could, therefore, by quartering the whole of her normal standing army in the occupied area, shift the charge from her own taxpayers to those of Germany,—though in reality any such policy would be at the expense not of Germany, who by hypothesis is already paying for Reparation up to the full limit of her capacity, but of France's Allies, who would receive so much less in respect of Reparation. A White Paper (Cmd. 240) has, however, been issued, in which is published a declaration by the Governments of the United States, Great Britain, and France engaging themselves to limit the sum payable annually by Germany to cover the cost of occupation to $60,000,000 "as soon as the Allied and Associated Powers concerned are convinced that the conditions of disarmament by Germany are being satisfactorily fulfilled." The word which I have italicized is a little significant. The three Powers reserve to themselves the liberty to modify this arrangement at any time if they agree that it is necessary.

36. [36] Art. 235. The force of this Article is somewhat strengthened by Article 251, by virtue of which dispensations may also be granted for "other payments" as well as for food and raw material.

37. [37] This is the effect of Para. 12 (c) of Annex II. of the Reparation Chapter, leaving minor complications on one side. The Treaty fixes the payments in terms of gold marks, which are converted in the above at the rate of 20 to $5.

38. [38] If, per impossibile, Germany discharged $2,500,000,000 in cash or kind by 1921, her annual payments would be at the rate of $312,500,000 from 1921 to 1925 and of $750,000,000 thereafter.

39. [39] Para. 16 of Annex II. of the Reparation Chapter. There is also an obscure provision by which interest may be charged "on sums arising out of material damage as from November 11, 1918, up to May 1, 1921." This seems to differentiate damage to property from damage to the person in favor of the former. It does not affect Pensions and Allowances, the cost of which is capitalized as at the date of the coming into force of the Treaty.

40. [40] On the assumption which no one supports and even the most optimistic fear to be unplausible, that Germany can pay the full charge for interest and sinking fund from the outset, the annual payment would amount to $2,400,000,000.

41. [41] Under Para. 13 of Annex II. unanimity is required (i) for any postponement beyond 1930 of instalments due between 1921 and 1926, and (ii.) for any postponement for more than three years of instalments due after 1926. Further, under Art. 234, the Commission may not cancel any part of the indebtedness without the specific authority of all the Governments represented on the Commission.

42. [42] On July 23, 1914, the amount was $339,000,000.

43. [43] Owing to the very high premium which exists on German silver coin, as the combined result of the depreciation of the mark and the appreciation of silver, it is highly improbable that it will be possible to extract such coin out of the pockets of the people. But it may gradually leak over the frontier by the agency of private speculators, and thus indirectly benefit the German exchange position as a whole.

44. [44] The Allies made the supply of foodstuffs to Germany during the Armistice, mentioned above, conditional on the provisional transfer to them of the greater part of the Mercantile Marine, to be operated by them for the purpose of shipping foodstuffs to Europe generally, and to Germany in particular. The reluctance of the Germans to agree to this was productive of long and dangerous delays in the supply of food, but the abortive Conferences of Trèves and Spa (January 16, February 14-16, and March 4-5, 1919) were at last followed by the Agreement of Brussels (March 14, 1919). The unwillingness of the Germans to conclude was mainly due to the lack of any absolute guarantee on the part of the Allies that, if they surrendered the ships, they would get the food. But assuming reasonable good faith on the part of the latter (their behavior in respect of certain other clauses of the Armistice, however, had not been impeccable and gave the enemy some just grounds for suspicion), their demand was not an improper one; for without the German ships the business of transporting the food would have been difficult, if not impossible, and the German ships surrendered or their equivalent were in fact almost wholly employed in transporting food to Germany itself. Up to June 30, 1919, 176 German ships of 1,025,388 gross tonnage had been surrendered to the Allies in accordance with the Brussels Agreement.

45. [45] The amount of tonnage transferred may be rather greater and the value per ton rather less. The aggregate value involved is not likely, however, to be less than $500,000,000 or greater than $750,000,000.

46. [46] This census was carried out by virtue of a Decree of August 23, 1916. On March 22, 1917, the German Government acquired complete control over the utilization of foreign securities in German possession; and in May, 1917, it began to exercise these powers for the mobilization of certain Swedish, Danish, and Swiss securities.

47. [47]

1892. Schmoller... $2,500,000,000
1892. Christians... 3,250,000,000
1893-4. Koch... 3,000,000,000
1905. v. Halle... 4,000,000,000*
1913. Helfferich... 5,000,000,000
1914. Ballod... 6,250,000,000
1914. Pistorius... 6,250,000,000
1919. Hans David... 5,250,000,000

*Plus $2,500,000,000 for investments other than securities.

Net investments, i.e. after allowance for property in Germany owned abroad. This may also be the case with some of the other estimates.

This estimate, given in the Weltwirtschaftszeitung (June 13, 1919), is an estimate of the value of Germany's foreign investments as at the outbreak of war.

48. [48] I have made no deduction for securities in the ownership of Alsace-Lorrainers and others who have now ceased to be German nationals.

49. [49] In all these estimates, I am conscious of being driven by a fear of overstating the case against the Treaty, of giving figures in excess of my own real judgment. There is a great difference between putting down on paper fancy estimates of Germany's resources and actually extracting contributions in the form of cash. I do not myself believe that the Reparation Commission will secure real resources from the above items by May, 1921, even as great as the lower of the two figures given above.

50. [50] The Treaty (see Art. 114) leaves it very dubious how far the Danish Government is under an obligation to make payments to the Reparation Commission in respect of its acquisition of Schleswig. They might, for instance, arrange for various offsets such as the value of the mark notes held by the inhabitants of ceded areas. In any case the amount of money involved is quite small. The Danish Government is raising a loan for $33,000,000 (kr. 120,000,000) for the joint purposes of "taking over Schleswig's share of the German debt, for buying German public property, for helping the Schleswig population, and for settling the currency question."

51. [51] Here again my own judgment would carry me much further and I should doubt the possibility of Germany's exports equaling her imports during this period. But the statement in the text goes far enough for the purpose of my argument.

52. [52] It has been estimated that the cession of territory to France, apart from the loss of Upper Silesia, may reduce Germany's annual pre-war production of steel ingots from 20,000,000 tons to 14,000,000 tons, and increase France's capacity from 5,000,000 tons to 11,000,000 tons.

53. [53] Germany's exports of sugar in 1913 amounted to 1,110,073 tons of the value of $65,471,500, of which 838,583 tons were exported to the United Kingdom at a value of $45,254,000. These figures were in excess of the normal, the average total exports for the five years ending 1913 being about $50,000,000.

54. [54] The necessary price adjustment, which is required, on both sides of this account, will be made on bloc later.

55. [55] If the amount of the sinking fund be reduced, and the annual payment is continued over a greater number of years, the present value—so powerful is the operation of compound interest—cannot be materially increased. A payment of $500,000,000 annually in perpetuity, assuming interest, as before, at 5 per cent, would only raise the present value to $10,000,000,000.

56. [56] As an example of public misapprehension on economic affairs, the following letter from Sir Sidney Low to The Times of the 3rd December, 1918, deserves quotation: "I have seen authoritative estimates which place the gross value of Germany's mineral and chemical resources as high as $1,250,000,000,000 or even more; and the Ruhr basin mines alone are said to be worth over $225,000,000,000. It is certain, at any rate, that the capital value of these natural supplies is much greater than the total war debts of all the Allied States. Why should not some portion of this wealth be diverted for a sufficient period from its present owners and assigned to the peoples whom Germany has assailed, deported, and injured? The Allied Governments might justly require Germany to surrender to them the use of such of her mines and mineral deposits as would yield, say, from $500,000,000 to $1,000,000,000 annually for the next 30, 40, or 50 years. By this means we could obtain sufficient compensation from Germany without unduly stimulating her manufactures and export trade to our detriment" It is not clear why, if Germany has wealth exceeding $1,250,000,000,000, Sir Sidney Low is content with the trifling sum of $500,000,000 to $1,000,000,000 annually. But his letter is an admirable reductio ad absurdum of a certain line of thought. While a mode of calculation, which estimates the value of coal miles deep in the bowels of the earth as high as in a coal scuttle, of an annual lease of $5000 for 999 years at $4,995,000 and of a field (presumably) at the value of all the crops it will grow to the end of recorded time, opens up great possibilities, it is also double-edged. If Germany's total resources are worth $1,250,000,000,000, those she will part with in the cession of Alsace-Lorraine and Upper Silesia should be more than sufficient to pay the entire costs of the war and reparation together. In point of fact, the present market value of all the mines in Germany of every kind has been estimated at $1,500,000,000, or a little more than one-thousandth part of Sir Sidney Low's expectations.

57. [57] The conversion at par of 5,000 million marks overstates, by reason of the existing depreciation of the mark, the present money burden of the actual pensions payments, but not, in all probability, the real loss of national productivity as a result of the casualties suffered in the war.

58. [58] It cannot be overlooked, in passing, that in its results on a country's surplus productivity a lowering of the standard of life acts both ways. Moreover, we are without experience of the psychology of a white race under conditions little short of servitude. It is, however, generally supposed that if the whole of a man's surplus production is taken from him, his efficiency and his industry are diminished. The entrepreneur and the inventor will not contrive, the trader and the shopkeeper will not save, the laborer will not toil, if the fruits of their industry are set aside, not for the benefit of their children, their old age, their pride, or their position, but for the enjoyment of a foreign conqueror.

59. [59] In the course of the compromises and delays of the Conference, there were many questions on which, in order to reach any conclusion at all, it was necessary to leave a margin of vagueness and uncertainty. The whole method of the Conference tended towards this,—the Council of Four wanted, not so much a settlement, as a treaty. On political and territorial questions the tendency was to leave the final arbitrament to the League of Nations. But on financial and economic questions, the final decision has generally been left with the Reparation Commission,—in spite of its being an executive body composed of interested parties.

60. [60] The sum to be paid by Austria for Reparation is left to the absolute discretion of the Reparation Commission, no determinate figure of any kind being mentioned in the text of the Treaty. Austrian questions are to be handled by a special section of the Reparation Commission, but the section will have no powers except such as the main Commission may delegate.

61. [61] Bulgaria is to pay an indemnity of $450,000,000 by half-yearly instalments, beginning July 1, 1920. These sums will be collected, on behalf of the Reparation Commission, by an Inter-Ally Commission of Control, with its seat at Sofia. In some respects the Bulgarian Inter-Ally Commission appears to have powers and authority independent of the Reparation Commission, but it is to act, nevertheless, as the agent of the latter, and is authorized to tender advice to the Reparation Commission as to, for example, the reduction of the half-yearly instalments.

62. [62] Under the Treaty this is the function of any body appointed for the purpose by the principal Allied and Associated Governments, and not necessarily of the Reparation Commission. But it may be presumed that no second body will be established for this special purpose.

63. [63] At the date of writing no treaties with these countries have been drafted. It is possible that Turkey might be dealt with by a separate Commission.

64. [64] This appears to me to be in effect the position (if this paragraph means anything at all), in spite of the following disclaimer of such intentions in the Allies' reply:—"Nor does Paragraph 12(b) of Annex II. give the Commission powers to prescribe or enforce taxes or to dictate the character of the German budget."

65. [65] Whatever that may mean.

66. [66] Assuming that the capital sum is discharged evenly over a period as short as thirty-three years, this has the effect of halving the burden as compared with the payments required on the basis of 5 per cent interest on the outstanding capital.

67. [67] I forbear to outline further details of the German offer as the above are the essential points.

68. [68] For this reason it is not strictly comparable with my estimate of Germany's capacity in an earlier section of this chapter, which estimate is on the basis of Germany's condition as it will be when the rest of the Treaty has come into effect.

69. [69] Owing to delays on the part of the Allies in ratifying the Treaty, the Reparation Commission had not yet been formally constituted by the end of October, 1919. So far as I am aware, therefore, nothing has been done to make the above offer effective. But, perhaps, in view of the circumstances, there has been an extension of the date.

Part I, Chapter VI

70. [70] Professor Starling's Report on Food Conditions in Germany. [Cmd. 280.]

71. [71] Including the Darlehenskassenscheine somewhat more.

72. [72] Similarly in Austria prices ought to be between twenty and thirty times their former level.

73. [73] One of the most striking and symptomatic difficulties which faced the Allied authorities in their administration of the occupied areas of Germany during the Armistice arose out of the fact that even when they brought food into the country the inhabitants could not afford to pay its cost price.

74. [74] Theoretically an unduly low level of home prices should stimulate exports and so cure itself. But in Germany, and still more in Poland and Austria, there is little or nothing to export. There must be imports before there can be exports.

75. [75] Allowing for the diminished value of gold, the exchange value of the franc should be less than 40 per cent of its previous value, instead of the actual figure of about 60 per cent, if the fall were proportional to the increase in the volume of the currency.

76. [76] How very far from equilibrium France's international exchange now is can be seen from the following table:

Monthly
Average
Imports
$1,000
Exports
$1,000
Excess of
Imports
$1,000
1913 140,355 114,670 25,685
1914 106,705 81,145 25,560
1918 331,915 69,055 262,860
Jan.-Mar. 1919 387,140 66,670 320,470
Apr.-June 1919 421,410 83,895 337,515
July 1919 467,565 123,675 343,890

These figures have been converted at approximately par rates, but this is roughly compensated by the fact that the trade of 1918 and 1919 has been valued at 1917 official rates. French imports cannot possibly continue at anything approaching these figures, and the semblance of prosperity based on such a state of affairs is spurious.

77. [77] The figures for Italy are as follows:

Monthly
Average
Imports
$1,000
Exports
$1,000
Excess of
Imports
$1,000
1913 60,760 41,860 18,900
1914 48,720 36,840 11,880
1918 235,025 41,390 193,635
Jan.-Mar. 1919 229,240 38,085 191,155
Apr.-June 1919 331,035 69,250 261,785
July-Aug. 1919 223,535 84,515 139,020

78. [78] In the last two returns of the Bank of France available as I write (Oct. 2 and 9, 1919) the increases in the note issue on the week amounted to $93,750,000 and $94,125,000 respectively.

79. [79] On October 3, 1919, M. Bilinski made his financial statement to the Polish Diet. He estimated his expenditure for the next nine months at rather more than double his expenditure for the past nine months, and while during the first period his revenue had amounted to one-fifth of his expenditure, for the coming months he was budgeting for receipts equal to one-eighth of his outgoings. The Times correspondent at Warsaw reported that "in general M. Bilinski's tone was optimistic and appeared to satisfy his audience"!

80. [80] The terms of the Peace Treaty imposed on the Austrian Republic bear no relation to the real facts of that State's desperate situation. The Arbeiter Zeitung of Vienna on June 4, 1919, commented on them as follows: "Never has the substance of a treaty of peace so grossly betrayed the intentions which were said to have guided its construction as is the case with this Treaty...in which every provision is permeated with ruthlessness and pitilessness, in which no breath of human sympathy can be detected, which flies in the face of everything which binds man to man, which is a crime against humanity itself, against a suffering and tortured people." I am acquainted in detail with the Austrian Treaty and I was present when some of its terms were being drafted, but I do not find it easy to rebut the justice of this outburst.

81. [81] For months past the reports of the health conditions in the Central Empires have been of such a character that the imagination is dulled, and one almost seems guilty of sentimentality in quoting them. But their general veracity is not disputed, and I quote the three following, that the reader may not be unmindful of them: "In the last years of the war, in Austria alone at least 35,000 people died of tuberculosis, in Vienna alone 12,000. To-day we have to reckon with a number of at least 350,000 to 400,000 people who require treatment for tuberculosis.... As the result of malnutrition a bloodless generation is growing up with undeveloped muscles, undeveloped joints, and undeveloped brain" (Neue Freie Presse, May 31, 1919). The Commission of Doctors appointed by the Medical Faculties of Holland, Sweden, and Norway to examine the conditions in Germany reported as follows in the Swedish Press in April, 1919: "Tuberculosis, especially in children, is increasing in an appalling way, and, generally speaking, is malignant. In the same way rickets is more serious and more widely prevalent. It is impossible to do anything for these diseases; there is no milk for the tuberculous, and no cod-liver oil for those suffering from rickets.... Tuberculosis is assuming almost unprecedented aspects, such as have hitherto only been known in exceptional cases. The whole body is attacked simultaneously, and the illness in this form is practically incurable.... Tuberculosis is nearly always fatal now among adults. It is the cause of 90 per cent of the hospital cases. Nothing can be done against it owing to lack of foodstuffs.... It appears in the most terrible forms, such as glandular tuberculosis, which turns into purulent dissolution." The following is by a writer in the Vossische Zeitung, June 5, 1919, who accompanied the Hoover Mission to the Erzgebirge: "I visited large country districts where 90 per cent of all the children were ricketty and where children of three years are only beginning to walk.... Accompany me to a school in the Erzgebirge. You think it is a kindergarten for the little ones. No, these are children of seven and eight years. Tiny faces, with large dull eyes, overshadowed by huge puffed, ricketty foreheads, their small arms just skin and bone, and above the crooked legs with their dislocated joints the swollen, pointed stomachs of the hunger œdema.... 'You see this child here,' the physician in charge explained; 'it consumed an incredible amount of bread, and yet did not get any stronger. I found out that it hid all the bread it received underneath its straw mattress. The fear of hunger was so deeply rooted in the child that it collected stores instead of eating the food: a misguided animal instinct made the dread of hunger worse than the actual pangs.'" Yet there are many persons apparently in whose opinion justice requires that such beings should pay tribute until they are forty or fifty years of age in relief of the British taxpayer.

Part I, Chapter VII

82. [82] The figures for the United Kingdom are as follows:

Monthly
Average
Net
Imports
$1,000
Exports
$1,000
Excess
of Imports
$1,000
1913 274,650 218,850 55,800
1914 250,485 179,465 71,020
Jan.-Mar. 1919 547,890 245,610 302,280
April-June 1919 557,015 312,315 244,700
July-Sept. 1919 679,635 344,315 335,320

But this excess is by no means so serious as it looks; for with the present high freight-earnings of the mercantile marine the various "invisible" exports of the United Kingdom are probably even higher than they were before the war, and may average at least $225,000,000 monthly.

83. [83] President Wilson was mistaken in suggesting that the supervision of Reparation payments has been entrusted to the League of Nations. As I pointed out in Chapter V., whereas the League is invoked in regard to most of the continuing economic and territorial provisions of the Treaty, this is not the case as regards Reparation, over the problems and modifications of which the Reparation Commission is supreme without appeal of any kind to the League of Nations.

84. [84] These Articles, which provide safeguards against the outbreak of war between members of the League and also between members and non-members, are the solid achievement of the Covenant. These Articles make substantially less probable a war between organized Great Powers such as that of 1914. This alone should commend the League to all men.

85. [85] It would be expedient so to define a "protectionist tariff" as to permit (a) the total prohibition of certain imports; (b) the imposition of sumptuary or revenue customs duties on commodities not produced at home; (c) the imposition of customs duties which did not exceed by more than five per cent a countervailing excise on similar commodities produced at home; (d) export duties. Further, special exceptions might be permitted by a majority vote of the countries entering the Union. Duties which had existed for five years prior to a country's entering the Union might be allowed to disappear gradually by equal instalments spread over the five years subsequent to joining the Union.

86. [86] The figures in this table are partly estimated, and are probably not completely accurate in detail; but they show the approximate figures with sufficient accuracy for the purposes of the present argument. The British figures are taken from the White Paper of October 23, 1919 (Cmd. 377). In any actual settlement, adjustments would be required in connection with certain loans of gold and also in other respects, and I am concerned in what follows with the broad principle only. The total excludes loans raised by the United Kingdom on the market in the United States, and loans raised by France on the market in the United Kingdom or the United States, or from the Bank of England.

87. [87] This allows nothing for interest on the debt since the Bolshevik Revolution.

88. [88] No interest has been charged on the advances made to these countries.

89. [89] The actual total of loans by the United States up to date is very nearly $10,000,000,000, but I have not got the latest details.

90. [90] The financial history of the six months from the end of the summer of 1916 up to the entry of the United States into the war in April, 1917, remains to be written. Very few persons, outside the half-dozen officials of the British Treasury who lived in daily contact with the immense anxieties and impossible financial requirements of those days, can fully realize what stead-fastness and courage were needed, and how entirely hopeless the task would soon have become without the assistance of the United States Treasury. The financial problems from April, 1917, onwards were of an entirely different order from those of the preceding months.

91. [91] Mr. Hoover was the only man who emerged from the ordeal of Paris with an enhanced reputation. This complex personality, with his habitual air of weary Titan (or, as others might put it, of exhausted prize-fighter), his eyes steadily fixed on the true and essential facts of the European situation, imported into the Councils of Paris, when he took part in them, precisely that atmosphere of reality, knowledge, magnanimity, and disinterestedness which, if they had been found in other quarters also, would have given us the Good Peace.

92. [92] Even after the United States came into the war the bulk of Russian expenditure in the United States, as well as the whole of that Government's other foreign expenditure, had to be paid for by the British Treasury.

93. [93] It is reported that the United States Treasury has agreed to fund (i.e. to add to the principal sum) the interest owing them on their loans to the Allied Governments during the next three years. I presume that the British Treasury is likely to follow suit. If the debts are to be paid ultimately, this piling up of the obligations at compound interest makes the position progressively worse. But the arrangement wisely offered by the United States Treasury provides a due interval for the calm consideration of the whole problem in the light of the after-war position as it will soon disclose itself.

End of Notes

Top of File

Return to top