Ed Driscoll

The Checkbooks of August Fall Silent

It only took 92 years, but the Telegraph declares World War I is at an end:

The final payment of £59.5 million, writes off the crippling debt that was the price for one world war and laid the foundations for another.

Germany was forced to pay the reparations at the Treaty of Versailles in 1919 as compensation to the war-ravaged nations of Belgium and France and to pay the Allies some of the costs of waging what was then the bloodiest conflict in history, leaving nearly ten million soldiers dead.

The initial sum agreed upon for war damages in 1919 was 226 billion Reichsmarks, a sum later reduced to 132 billion, £22 billion at the time.

The bill would have been settled much earlier had Adolf Hitler not reneged on reparations during his reign.

Hatred of the settlement agreed at Versailles, which crippled Germany as it tried to shape itself into a democracy following armistice, was of significant importance in propelling the Nazis to power.

But then, from the first communist nation to the rise of fascism to the map of the Middle East, to the Wilson retreads drafting the New Deal (“We planned in war!”) what part of the 20th century didn’t World War I shape? And from that perspective, the after effects of the Great War continue to ripple, even if the last reparation check has been written.