It finally ended a few weeks ago.
The misbegotten Treaty of Versailles stopped the fighting of “The Great War” on June 28, 1919. But that “war to end all wars” was merely act one in a world wide conflagration that is now numbered in two parts.
As wise statesmen have noted, the cessation of hostilities in World War I ended in an Allied victory but there was no peace. It required the second mass slaughter to give birth to not only a victory but to a peace as well – a peace that lasted for generations – interrupted repeatedly by a Cold War and lesser proxy wars.
Not much was resolved by the first bloody act of the carnage. Those of us who have visited the death fields of Verdun get but a glimpse of the horrors that occurred. The foolish Allies walked into a charnel house and declared “I won.” No peace could come from such as these – and they were supposed to be the “good guys”.
Finally, a few weeks ago, On October 2, 2010, the peace of Versailles finally came:
“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.
“On Sunday the last bill is due and the First World War finally, financially at least, terminates for Germany,” said Bild, the country’s biggest selling newspaper.
Most of the money goes to private individuals, pension funds and corporations holding debenture bonds as agreed under the Treaty of Versailles, where Germany was made to sign the ‘war guilt’ clause, accepting blame for the war.
France, which had been ravaged by the war, pushed hardest for the steepest possible fiscal punishment for Germany.
The principal representative of the British Treasury at the Paris Peace Conference, John Maynard Keynes, resigned in June 1919 in protest at the scale of the demands.
“Germany will not be able to formulate correct policy if it cannot finance itself,’ he warned.
When the Wall Street Crash came in 1929, the Weimar Republic spiralled into debt. Four years later, Hitler was elected Chancellor of Germany.”
Fools for leaders, endless debt, and we still have not learned.
To honor these men and women we turn to a day of great joy and great moment and great remembrance:
“65 Years Ago my Dad shot this film along Kalakaua Ave. in Waikiki capturing spontaneous celebrations that broke out upon first hearing news of the Japanese surrender. Kodachrome 16mm film: God Bless Kodachrome, right? I was able to find an outfit (mymovietransfer.com) to do a much superior scan of this footage to what I had previously posted, so I re-did this film and replaced the older version There are more still images from this amazing day, in color, at discoveringhawaii.com”
Thank you Kodachrome. Thank you those who remember and chronicle our national and personal past:
“This is a spare and simple video consisting of WWII-era Kodachrome slides and film footage honoring the servicemen and servicewomen and the loved ones they left behind. The bare-bones recording was made by Vera Lynn as bombs fell upon Britain: the genuine sadness in her voice needs no violin accompaniment for effect. Enormous gratitude for all US and Allies who serve, yesterday and today.”
We’ll return to chronicle the foolishness of our current “leaders” tomorrow.