Post WW1 Germany Was A Disaster

OpinionJournal: When America Left Peace to France: The League of Nations once acted like the United Nations is acting now.
Nifty little history lesson. The French played a crucial role in the German hyper-inflation of the 1920’s which ultimately lead to Hitler’s rise and WW2. Yeah, we want them in the driver’s seat again.

Since the U.S. had not ratified the Versailles Treaty, it was not represented on the reparations commission. The French seized the opportunity in 1921 to present Germany with a bill for nearly $32 billion, which implied an impossibly huge German trade surplus that would disrupt the commerce of the whole continent. John Maynard Keynes had already warned, in “The Economic Consequences of the Peace,” that if the war ends “with France and Italy abusing their momentary victorious power to destroy Germany and Austria-Hungary now prostrate, they invite their own destruction, also, being so deeply and inextricably intertwined with their victims by hidden psychic and economic bonds.”

When Germany was predictably unable to meet the bill, in 1923 France and Belgium seized the industrial Ruhr Valley, succeeding only in crippling its productive potential and spurring the great German inflation that destroyed its middle class. The French ultimately withdrew, financial wizard Hjalmar Schacht stabilized the currency, and in 1924, Chicago Banker Charles Dawes drew up a plan to cut reparations–though the U.S. never cancelled the Allied war debts.

With Germany momentarily stabilized, Secretary of State Frank Kellogg and French Foreign Minister Aristide Briand negotiated a pact to outlaw war in 1928. It won Kellogg a Nobel Peace Prize; M. Briand had already won for the Locarno Pact, withdrawing Allied troops from the Rhineland and paving the way for German entry into the League. But as the Great Depression seized the world, the road to war proceeded apace; the League, the Kellogg-Briand Pact and other supranational arrangements proved monumentally ineffectual.

In 1929 Soviet Russia invaded Manchuria after China arrested Communist agents. Meanwhile, Japanese militarists were rapidly turning their country into the Iraq of the era, especially after Prime Minister Osachi Hamaguchi was disabled in an assassination attempt in 1930. In 1931 the Japanese army seized Manchuria, and later attacked Shanghai. The U.S. sent a representative to the League in Geneva as an “observer and auditor,” but no sanctions were invoked against Japan.

In 1935, Mussolini invaded nearly defenseless Ethiopia; Emperor Halie Sellasie made a historic appearance at the League to appeal for protection. It did brand Italy as an aggressor, and invoked some toothless economic sanctions. In 1936, Hitler, who had already rearmed in defiance of Versailles and withdrawn from the League, remilitarized the Rhineland and revoked the Locarno Pact. His defense minister had issued orders to withdraw across the Rhine if patrols met French resistance. Any withdrawal would have jeopardized Hitler’s regime, but the French sat on their hands.

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