Walther Rathenau and the Weimar Republic: The Politics of Reparations

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9780801811753: Walther Rathenau and the Weimar Republic: The Politics of Reparations
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Financial reparation was the most difficult and dangerous of the conditions imposed upon Germany by the Versailles Treaty. The amount of reparations - three times the country's annual income - was beyond Germany's capacity to pay. Nor was Germany permitted to build up trade surpluses that might at least have made partial reparation possible. The United States, by insisting on the payment of Allied war debts, forced the Allies in turn to insist on reparations. Postwar polemics concentrated on German aggression and war crimes, but the real issue was the damage done to the world's economic mechanism. In the end all nations suffered, including the United States. Walther Rathenau, German Reconstruction Minister in 1921 and Foreign Minister in 1922 - and a Jew - bore the main weight of these problems. He was the first of his country's leaders to articulate the policy of fulfillment, the German effort to cooperate with the Allies. Stresemann went on to carry it out during most of the interwar period, and Brüning brought it to its logical and disastrous conclusion. Fulfillment helped the Weimar Republic to survive, but it also prepared the way for Hitler...

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David Felix
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