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Old March 6th, 2011, 07:19 PM   #501
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Hmm. Poles did exactly the same in the so called recovered territories with the German heritage, but I don't know why I should dislike todays Poles, as long as they don't try to excuse or even defend these actions.
Don't you think the poor Polish people had every right to do what they wanted with newly acquired German lands (that used to be Polish anyways going back in history) after how Germans treated Polish civilians? The war hardened the Polish nation. It's laughable to think Germans actually expected civility. Also, weren't a lot of big cities in former German territories, like the city of Wroclaw, left in ruins after brutal German/Russian fighting?? Essentially most of the new territory that was given to Poland was left in ruins. Again, you are comparing different things and scenarios here. But nice try
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Old March 6th, 2011, 07:26 PM   #502
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Polish preservationists estimate that the destructions between 1945 and 1985 in the "recovered territories" are as big as the destructions by the war. Silesia for example is nothing more than a disembowelled, dead body today.
Where are these German treasures today? All over Poland? By the way, this was also seen as compensation. To the best of my knowledge Poles complain about not receiving adequate compensation from Germany, unlike Jews who were well compensated monetarily. Correct me if my facts are wrong.
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Old March 6th, 2011, 07:45 PM   #503
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Wow, I hope you are an exception Karasek, that is extremely shocking and disproportianate misrepresentation of history. There is no comparison. Wroclaw was dismantled in large areas to help rebuild Warsaw and buildings were given a more Polish look when rebuilt/restored in other areas, but you can understand why people wanted to create a more Polish feel to their communities and why Warsaw needed to be rebuilt. I don't deny that areas of German heritage were not treated with great respect, but that is changing now. Anyway, I think we discussed this subject before.
Also, it was the USSR that forced the Germans out of these areas, not the Polish.
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Old March 6th, 2011, 07:50 PM   #504
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Where are these German treasures today? All over Poland? By the way, this was also seen as compensation. To the best of my knowledge Poles complain about not receiving adequate compensation from Germany, unlike Jews who were well compensated monetarily. Correct me if my facts are wrong.
They still complain? Maybe the Christians killed by the ancient roman army in the 2nd-3rd centuries should receive compensation from Italy.

The Nazi state that killed millions doesn't exist anymore to compensate people. Also, out of the millions that were killed directly and indirectly by the Nazi state we have millions of Germans. Things are complicated.
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Old March 6th, 2011, 08:54 PM   #505
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Don't you think the poor Polish people had every right to do what they wanted with newly acquired German lands (that used to be Polish anyways going back in history) after how Germans treated Polish civilians? The war hardened the Polish nation. It's laughable to think Germans actually expected civility. Also, weren't a lot of big cities in former German territories, like the city of Wroclaw, left in ruins after brutal German/Russian fighting?? Essentially most of the new territory that was given to Poland was left in ruins. Again, you are comparing different things and scenarios here. But nice try

Of course Poles could do whatever they wanted with the new territories. But a program to eradicate the cultural heritage of the German nation is in no way different than the destruction of the Polish cultural heritage. Both originates from the same twisted, nationalistic mindset, and it's no coincidence that it happened in two autocratic societies.
And no, the new territories weren't all in ruins. The entire area to the south od the Odra for example was mostly untouched. Jelenia Gora, perfectly preserved, was destroyed by the Polish Commies. The old town of Legnica, a picture-perfect example of Friderician rococo, was leveled because of their Prussian heritage. In Nysa hundreds of preserved medieval town houses were destroyed, and in Wroclaw the eastern part of the old town, which survived the war in acceptable condition, was leveled. Polish preservationists estimated in 1986 that the majority of the destructions in the towns of Silesia happened in Polish times.

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Where are these German treasures today? All over Poland? By the way, this was also seen as compensation. To the best of my knowledge Poles complain about not receiving adequate compensation from Germany, unlike Jews who were well compensated monetarily. Correct me if my facts are wrong.
- the majority of the castles and palaces are destroyed or in ruins. The Polish state didn't care because these castles were a) aristocratic and b) German. The interiors of the surviving castles are mostly destroyed, the parks rededicated to woods and destroyed
- former Protestant churches are mostly in ruins
- the interiors of the churches are scattered around the country, some of them in Warsaw
- many graveyards are destroyed, among them all German ones in Wroclaw (the two Jewish survived... interestingly also the Nazi era), the graveyard of the World Heritage Site in Jawor, and the most beautiful baroque graveyard of Silesia in Jelenia Gora (to eradicate all traces of "Prussian Junker-hood"), which was initiated by the same guy who saved the Powazki graveyard in Warsaw
- the libraries of Silesia, among them the once biggest privately owned, are now mostly in Warsaws universities or Wroclaw
- the Silesian museums lost most of their exhibits to Inner Poland, especially Warsaw, to eradicate all reminiscences to the German past in Silesia
(Source for all: Biuletyn Dolnoslaski, 1986, Nr. 2, p.2ff, Memorial Stowarzyszenia Historykow Sztuki o stanie zabytkow na dolnym Slasku)

Poles really have my sympathy for the huge suffering they had to endure. Losing millions of people *and* the cultural heritage of the nation is the most horrible thing a nation can encounter. But lamenting the destruction of the cultural heritage of one nation and ignoring/defending the destruction of the cultural heritage of another nation is hyprocrisy. Two wrongs don't make a right.
So, restrict yourself to the fantastic reconstruction effort in Warsaw and stay away from politics, since this very reconstruction was deeply political.
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Old March 6th, 2011, 10:52 PM   #506
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Of course Karasek two wrongs don't make a right, but we are all working on getting things right, it will take time and money and probably more awkward and uncomfortable reminders by people still emotionally overwrought on both sides. Its harder for us Poles for many obvious reasons but also because the country has only been free to heal and rebuild for about 20 years and communism left a huge mess, as you guys know from how many hundreds of billions it cost to rebuild former East Germany.

Many believe that the highlights of German heritage in the recovered territories should be restored (for example: Nikiszowiec/Nikischschacht) for the sake of historic authenticity but also as a gesture towards a deeper reconciliation. It's already happening and there is nothing wrong in admitting that Germans lived here and hopefully will feel comfortable living in Poland today, it will only enrich us and Europe.
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Old March 6th, 2011, 10:53 PM   #507
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But a program to eradicate the cultural heritage of the German nation is in no way different than the destruction of the Polish cultural heritage. Both originates from the same twisted, nationalistic mindset, and it's no coincidence that it happened in two autocratic societies.
You seem to mistake a reason with a cause. Polish actions, whatever they were, were only reaction.

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And no, the new territories weren't all in ruins. The entire area to the south od the Odra for example was mostly untouched. Jelenia Gora, perfectly preserved, was destroyed by the Polish Commies. ... [etc]
Here you are mixing communism with nationalism. Commies were destroying old architecture mostly not because of nationsalism but because of "new architecture for new society". They trully believed that their modernistic buildings are superior to whatever was before. You will find this not only in Poland but in Czech Republic or East Germany to. Actually one can really easy spot the difference traveling from West to East Germany where the border was. Now we have to live with this sick commie architecture for a couple of decades at least, but saying that they were destroying German architecture because of nationalism is overstatement. They were revolutionarists and they believed they just know and do better...

PS. The reason that many of Silesian culture artifacts are in Warsaw Museum are more complicated but I agree that no longer valid:
- polish authorities in this terriotories after WWII tried to preserve/take anything before Russians did
- many in Poland didn't believe that Lower Silesia would stay in Poland borders for long (actually there was this temporary feeling to the 90' when border treaty was finally signed)
- Germans took a lot during WWII so Poles took what was left in return...

Last edited by jwojcie; March 6th, 2011 at 11:01 PM.
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Old March 6th, 2011, 10:58 PM   #508
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When I read this kind of stuff it makes it hard to like Germans as people.
Yeah because Germans like me burned down Poland. Maybe you ought to actually visit Germany instead of demonizing it from your ivory tower in Toronto.
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Old March 6th, 2011, 11:02 PM   #509
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You seem to mistake a reason with a cause. Polish actions, whatever they were, were only reaction.
So if someone murders a member of my family, it's perfectly acceptable to then kill a family member of his as well? That's some twisted logic. You can't on the one hand complain about Nazi atrocities with regards to Polish cultural artefacts (perfectly understandable complaints btw) and then downplay the destruction in the re-conquered areas as something that was perfectly acceptable and understandable simply because it was driven by a thirst for vengeance.

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Commies were destroying old architecture mostly not because of nationsalism but because of "new architecture for new society".
Which is why they rebuilt "traditionally" Polish cities like Warsaw and Gdansk?
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Old March 6th, 2011, 11:09 PM   #510
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Actually Wroclaw and Katowice where there was a large German presence before the war are going through a major renaissance now and lot is being restored. Of course with limited post war resources pragmatic concerns were paramount and of course "Polish" cities and the Polish identity was a priority, not saying that from the point of world heritage it was the best thing, but nonetheless necessary. Sorry if I'm mistaken, but I thought you were originally from Poland.
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Old March 6th, 2011, 11:53 PM   #511
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So if someone murders a member of my family, it's perfectly acceptable to then kill a family member of his as well? That's some twisted logic. You can't on the one hand complain about Nazi atrocities with regards to Polish cultural artefacts (perfectly understandable complaints btw) and then downplay the destruction in the re-conquered areas as something that was perfectly acceptable and understandable simply because it was driven by a thirst for vengeance.
It's not twisted logic. Revenge is a perfectly normal human response. It's human nature. Anyways, don't talk about "twisted logic" when you are German. No offense but one of your former "charismatic" leaders brainwashed a whole nation on "twisted logic". His name was Adolf I think.
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Old March 7th, 2011, 12:02 AM   #512
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Yeah because Germans like me burned down Poland. Maybe you ought to actually visit Germany instead of demonizing it from your ivory tower in Toronto.
Historically Germanic people (Prussians, Germans, Austrians) have had (and continue to do so) contempt for Poles and other Slavs. I know Germans have racist ideas about the east and believe they are from a higher culture. There still exists a divide between east and west in my opinion. I've talked to Poles who've lived in Germany and Austria and this is their opinion also. I think what is considered racist in Canada is not considered racist in German speaking countries. It shows the difference in thinking.
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Old March 7th, 2011, 12:08 AM   #513
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Awesome response, bringing up Hitler for no apparent reason. Just as I expected...
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Old March 7th, 2011, 12:14 AM   #514
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This thread turns more and more into a Germans demonisation thread. I find that pretty alarming! In real life I don't know any Poles, but some guys here on Skyscrapers are giving me the impression of a miserably vengeful lot.
Just take a look at the Dresden Neumarkt reconstruction thread. Are the Germans there constantly demonising the British?
No wonder the Dresden thread is far more popular by forumers around the world, than this sad thread. The fantastic reconstruction of Warsaw deserves that popularity as well...but you are completely ruining it! The very title of this thread speaks volumes. It's not about the rising of Warsaw from it's ashes, but the horrible thing that was commited by Germans.
Nobody is trying to offend you. This is history and facts. The excerpts I posted are from a book written by an Asian American. These things happened and inevitably emotions will rise to the top. Sure, Germans will be uncomfortable because historically they have been very hostile towards Poles and Slavs. In the first 45 years of the 20th century, Germans were responsible for 2 world wars and initiated the destruction of Central Europe. They have not right to blame others for seeking revenge against them in such destructive and dangerous times.
By the way, Poles don't complain that much about WWII when compared to Jews. Jewish people in N. America get to complain about everything. The Holocaust gets special treatment everywhere but for example the destruction of Warsaw and the genocide of Poles is not very well known. It seems like Poles are used to getting shut out.
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Old March 7th, 2011, 02:48 AM   #515
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well, the Jewish Holocaust was exceptional in the annals of history, where an entire nation was almost completely wiped out. rychlik, people don;t know much about the Polish situation also because our state was behind the iron curtain and quite frankly our PR was not as good, bravo to the Jews. Efforts by Jewish people and their lobbies are why they have such attention. If we want attention, it is up to us to organize and finance it. Anyway, that is starting to change.
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Old March 7th, 2011, 05:14 AM   #516
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well, the Jewish Holocaust was exceptional in the annals of history, where an entire nation was almost completely wiped out. rychlik, people don;t know much about the Polish situation also because our state was behind the iron curtain and quite frankly our PR was not as good, bravo to the Jews. Efforts by Jewish people and their lobbies are why they have such attention. If we want attention, it is up to us to organize and finance it. Anyway, that is starting to change.
I guess it helps to own the media
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Old March 7th, 2011, 01:33 PM   #517
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So if someone murders a member of my family, it's perfectly acceptable to then kill a family member of his as well?
That's some twisted logic. You can't on the one hand complain about Nazi atrocities with regards to Polish cultural artefacts (perfectly understandable complaints btw) and then downplay the destruction in the re-conquered areas as something that was perfectly acceptable and understandable simply because it was driven by a thirst for vengeance.
First, as far as I know it didn't play out that way in general. There wasn't any mass murder program for Germans. So there wasn't actually any eye for the eye in the end. Where did I downplay the destruction in the re-conquered areas? I just think it is rather important to keep in mind the issue of a reason and a cause.

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Which is why they rebuilt "traditionally" Polish cities like Warsaw and Gdansk?
It wasn't so simple. For example initially commies didn't intended to do complex rebuild. It took a lot of effort of many people to change their plans. Besides, it is current view of most that modernism and commie architecture and town planing was in general a mistake. But at those times in 50' or 60' it was all new ideas supported my many. They didn't think they are destroying. They thought they are building the brave new world. They wanted to replace old bourgeoisie architecture either Polish or German (even better) with new one.
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Old March 7th, 2011, 05:08 PM   #518
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rychlik seems to fit all the stereotypes of an angry Pole. Hatred against Germans...check. Latent anti-Semitism...check.
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Old March 7th, 2011, 05:53 PM   #519
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Don't you think the poor Polish people had every right to do what they wanted with newly acquired German lands (that used to be Polish anyways going back in history) after how Germans treated Polish civilians?
Quite hard to go down that line. We could push it back to Ancient Age and argue about the skirmishes between ancient groups that took over the region in the 6-9th Centuries... OTOH, the Germans could well push the time reference forward and argue that Poles should be evicted from Silesia because it was Germanized up to WW-2.

In any case, territorial ancestry is always a treacherous road. Just look at the Palestine-Israeli situation, both groups (and even others like Druzes) have multiple historical claims based on successive settlement and eviction episodes. The argument solves nothing and only leads to War.

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Where are these German treasures today? All over Poland? By the way, this was also seen as compensation. To the best of my knowledge Poles complain about not receiving adequate compensation from Germany, unlike Jews who were well compensated monetarily. Correct me if my facts are wrong.
Poles were compensated with land, from which 7 million Germans were evicted after the end of the war (on top of 2-3 million who had already left before hostilities ended). German didn't harass the Poles afterward.

Jews were only given Israel, a land in another continent plagued with neighbors' hostility from day one.

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In the first 45 years of the 20th century, Germans were responsible for 2 world wars and initiated the destruction of Central Europe. They have not right to blame others for seeking revenge against them in such destructive and dangerous times.
Flawed historical perspective here. Germans clashes on WW-1 and WW-2 were only the continuation of unsettled Franco-Prussian divergences, indirectly affecting the British and other powers of the day like Austrian-Hungarian Empire.

It is really problematic to blame only the Germans for all war ravage that swept central Europe in the 19th and early 20th Centuries. For one example: it is today widely accepted by historians that harsh conditions imposed on Germany by the Treaty of Versailles fueled events that led to the build-up of WW-2.
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Old March 7th, 2011, 06:22 PM   #520
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Flawed historical perspective here. Germans clashes on WW-1 and WW-2 were only the continuation of unsettled Franco-Prussian divergences, indirectly affecting the British and other powers of the day like Austrian-Hungarian Empire.

It is really problematic to blame only the Germans for all war ravage that swept central Europe in the 19th and early 20th Centuries. For one example: it is today widely accepted by historians that harsh conditions imposed on Germany by the Treaty of Versailles fueled events that led to the build-up of WW-2.
Oh yeah those poor wittle Germans.
Not so much...


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Ending the War to End All Wars

By MARGARET MacMILLAN
Published: December 25, 2010


NOT many people noticed at the time, but World War I ended this year. Well, in a sense it did: on Oct. 3, Germany finally paid off the interest on bonds that had been taken out by the shaky Weimar government in an effort to pay the war reparations imposed by the Treaty of Versailles.


While the amount, less than $100 million, was trivial by today’s standards, the payment brought to a close one of the most poisonous chapters of the 20th century. It also, unfortunately, brought back to life an insidious historical myth: that the reparations and other treaty measures were so odious that they made Adolf Hitler’s rise and World War II inevitable.

In truth, the reparations, as the name suggests, were not intended as a punishment. They were meant to repair the damage done, mainly to Belgium and France, by the German invasion and subsequent four years of fighting. They would also help the Allies pay off huge loans they had taken to finance the war, mainly from the United States. At the Paris peace talks of 1919, President Woodrow Wilson was very clear that there should be no punitive fines on the losers, only legitimate costs. The other major statesmen in Paris, Prime Ministers David Lloyd George of Britain and Georges Clemenceau of France, reluctantly agreed, and Germany equally reluctantly signed the treaty.

In Weimar Germany, a society deeply divided by class and politics, hatred of the “dictated peace” was widespread, and there was no shame in trying to escape its provisions. The final sum for reparations was not mentioned in the treaty — itself a humiliation in German eyes — but was eventually set in 1921 at 132 billion gold marks (about $442 billion in today’s terms). The fact is that Germany could have managed to pay, but for political reasons chose not to.

The German government repeatedly challenged the amount, asked for moratoriums or simply stated that it could not pay. In 1924 and again in 1929, the total sum owed was negotiated down. In 1933, when the Nazis took power, Hitler simply canceled reparations unilaterally. In the end, it has been calculated, Germany paid less in real terms than France did after the Franco-Prussian war of 1870 to ’71 (and France paid off those obligations in just a few years).

Yet this mattered little to the Germans, for whom it was all too easy to attribute every problem to reparations, and by extension to the Weimar government. Hitler did not attain power because of reparations — the Great Depression and the folly of the German ruling classes did that — but their existence gave him a political cudgel against Weimar. The wrangling over reparations also helped turn the German people against co-operation with the international system.

Equally important, the issue helped drive a wedge between France and Britain at a time when the liberal democracies needed to stand together. Many in the English-speaking world came to agree with the Germans that the Treaty of Versailles, and the reparations in particular, were unjust, and that Lloyd George had capitulated to the vengeful French. That sense of guilt played a role in the efforts by successive British governments to appease Hitler in the 1930s.

In this atmosphere, many if not most Germans came to believe that World War I was a sort of natural catastrophe, with no human authors. The arms race, nationalism, imperialism, fear, hatred: all were seen in retrospect as impersonal forces that had simply swept Europeans along in 1914. The German Foreign Ministry in the 1920s even had a propaganda unit that took every opportunity to encourage attacks on the treaty and, by selectively releasing documents, to suggest that Germany bore no more responsibility for the war than any other nation. All were guilty or none were.

Research since 1945, by German historians among others, has produced a more complicated picture, that of a reckless Austria-Hungary determined to crush Serbia and of Germany providing a blank check for its allies in Vienna. German military planners, if they did not welcome war, by 1914 were increasingly inclined to expect it. Their nightmare was a rapidly industrializing Russia. Rather like the Japanese in 1941 who decided to attack the United States, the Germans thought it would be better to have the inevitable conflict sooner rather than later, while they could still take the offensive.

In a remarkably short time after 1918, many Germans also came to think that they had not really lost the war. Its armies during the war had inflicted stunning defeats on Germany’s foes, especially in the east, and little of German soil had been occupied by Allied troops either during the war or in defeat. The military elite mounted a successful campaign in the 1920s to attribute the final German collapse to a “stab in the back” by enemies at home, particularly socialists, liberals and Jews.

This perception was absurd: Germany’s armies lost badly on the battlefields in the summer of 1918; its people were on the brink of starvation because of the British naval blockade; its Austrian, Turkish and Bulgarian allies had crumbled; and its military had begged the government to make peace before it was too late. The armistice signed on Nov. 11 was clearly a surrender; Germany gave up its Navy and its submarines and its heavy field equipment, from tanks to artillery. But as things went from bad to worse such facts were easily distorted or ignored, especially in the late 1920s as Weimar faltered and Hitler rose.



This is not to say that the reparations were a good idea. They were economically unsound and a political mistake with serious consequences. John Maynard Keynes, a member of the British delegation in Paris, rightly argued that the Allies should have forgotten about reparations altogether. (It would have helped if America had written off the war loans it had made to Britain and France, but it was not prepared to do that.)

Still, one has to consider the political atmosphere in 1919. No French or Belgian politician could have openly agreed with Keynes; and even if Lloyd George had wanted to, he had to placate the hard-line Tories in his coalition government. The north of France and virtually the whole of Belgium had been occupied for four years by German soldiers who had driven off livestock, plundered factories and mines, and taken citizens to Germany for forced labor. The areas along the front lines, on the French-Belgian border, were wastelands. And we now have compelling evidence that German forces deliberately carried out a scorched-earth policy; they flooded mines, blew up bridges and stripped bare factories as they retreated.

As one French newspaper asked in 1919, why should the French taxpayer pay to fix the damage the invaders had done? The French remembered too, if nobody else did, that it was the Germans who had declared war on France in 1914, not the other way round.


Ending wars is not easy, and before we condemn the whole idea of reparations as misguided and dangerous, we should think about more recent penalties for aggression. Iraq, for example, is still paying reparations to Kuwait for Saddam Hussein’s invasion of 1990.
Thank God there are still real Historians out there.
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/12/26/op...=3&ref=opinion
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