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The human price of reparations

Fischer, Conan J. (2005) The human price of reparations. Diplomacy and Statecraft, 16 (3). pp. 499-514. ISSN 0959-2296

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Abstract

Post-1918 Germany was gripped by severe food shortages that devastated the health of urban children in particular. German politicans and officials became increasingly convinced that a state of near famine and the accompanying scourges of social and political disorder could not be adequately addressed given the demands placed on public finances and the wider economy by the reparations regime. While the British reacted by counselling a moderation of the reparations regime, the French accused Germany of instrumentalizing domestic crisis to undermine reparations and thereby compromise the Versailles Settlement. French sanctions culminated in an invasion of the Ruhr District in January 1923, which served to create a devastating famine in the region and to intensify popular antipathy in Germany to the reparations regime. The article concludes by considering briefly links between the perceived perfidy of reparations and the subsequent resonance of Nazi ideology and policy.