Germany and the War Guilt Clause

Discussions on all aspects of the First World War not covered in the other sections. Hosted by Terry Duncan.
User avatar
Terry Duncan
Host - WW1 section
Posts: 4626
Joined: 13 Jun 2008 22:54
Location: Kent

Re: Germany and the War Guilt Clause

Postby Terry Duncan » 16 May 2018 21:45

Don71 wrote:Most of the forced to cede areas from Empire Germany at the Versaille Treaty were in the name of Self-determination.


What excuse did Germany use after 1871 - 1918 for all the treaties it imposed and removed land from a nation?

Don71 wrote:Whole Austria Ungary was forced to destroy itself after the war, in the name of Self-determination.


This is such an incorrect statement I am surprised to read it coming from someone who appears to know at least a reasonable amount about the war! The Hapsburg Empire fell apart, the Czechs, Hungarians, and Poles all walked away long before any allied commission got to consider what to do with the lands. Self-determination yes, but from the inside, not imposed.

Don71 wrote:So it is a other Self-determination when it was dictaded by the Allies, then it was dictaded by Germay?


No. Wilson was the man who wanted self-determination, the others were far from enthusiastic on that point. My point is simply that Versailles was no different in its terms than other treaties, it was imposed on the vanquished.

Poles for a start or do you wish to maintain they wanted their nation annexed by Austria, Prussia and Russia? Then of course we can look at the Zabern Affair to see another. I presume you dont want me to look outside of Europe? If we want to consider the Hapsburg Empire we can maybe quadruple the total of oppressed minorities, Germany was far from in favour of self-determination in that case, only in Russia where it suited them to set up puppet states.


Don71 wrote:The Hapsburg Empire isn't or wasn't Germany


Never said it was. However, Germany sat on a lot of Poles and their lands, and the Zabern incident illustrates the ill-treatment of minorities, which is all you asked for when you said;

Don71 wrote:Which minorities were suppressed by the German Empire or Germany at all during this time?


I answered your question. Poles and the remaining ethnic French of Alsace-Lorraine. Zabern was a suppression of rights.

Don71 wrote:and what is with Irland or Scottland and I also don't want to look outside of Europe for France, GB and the USA hm?


You can do as you like on these points, the German record overseas isnt great, and in the end this subject has little to do with the Treaty of Versailles.

As I pointed out previously, you find in unacceptable that Germany should be made to pay what others want, you have no problem with the treaties the Germans imposed and even seek to justify them. You have no problem with Germany imposing its will on others, even justifying them doing so, so why do you have a problem when the same is done to Germany.

User avatar
Don71
Member
Posts: 306
Joined: 30 Jan 2011 14:43

Re: Germany and the War Guilt Clause

Postby Don71 » 16 May 2018 22:46

I have no problem with that at all, as long as it is in a certain proportion!
I am neither naive nor I complain that after the WWI there should have been no reparations for Germany, but no reparations that should destroy the German economic base completely over many decades to a century.
This has never dictated Germany in its peace treaties and I still have a completely different opinion on the peace of Brest-Litovsk, since neither Finns, nor Baltics or Ukrainians, were Russians!

My personal opinion is that the WWI was co-initiated by various Entente powers also for economic reasons in the July crisis, to weaken or destroy the successful German economy of Empire Germany, sustainable and exactly this goal was implemented with the completely disproportionate Treaty of Versailles!
Both article 231 and the totally abnormal and exaggerated reparations demands were unique until then.

User avatar
Terry Duncan
Host - WW1 section
Posts: 4626
Joined: 13 Jun 2008 22:54
Location: Kent

Re: Germany and the War Guilt Clause

Postby Terry Duncan » 16 May 2018 23:38

Don71 wrote:I have no problem with that at all, as long as it is in a certain proportion!


Proportionate to what? There had been no war that cost as much in dead, wounded, disabled, and lost money, as WWI at that point. As it was they started by trying to figure out how much damage to property had been done, and then how much it would cost to compensate the disabled and shattered families. The people were unlikely to see any of the money certainly, but they had to start somewhere is assessing what the cost to the state would be on top of how much had been spent on the war.

Don71 wrote:I am neither naive nor I complain that after the WWI there should have been no reparations for Germany, but no reparations that should destroy the German economic base completely over many decades to a century.


But that is an almost perfect description of the settlement the Germans wished to impose on the French if they had won this war.

Don71 wrote:This has never dictated Germany in its peace treaties and I still have a completely different opinion on the peace of Brest-Litovsk, since neither Finns, nor Baltics or Ukrainians, were Russians!


The German interest in these areas and people was not altruistic, not to do with self-determination, it was to deny these areas to the Russians and create German puppet states.

Don71 wrote:My personal opinion is that the WWI was co-initiated by various Entente powers also for economic reasons in the July crisis, to weaken or destroy the successful German economy of Empire Germany, sustainable and exactly this goal was implemented with the completely disproportionate Treaty of Versailles!


Why not start a thread attemtping to prove such a thing? It would at least be fun debating the idea.

Don71 wrote:Both article 231 and the totally abnormal and exaggerated reparations demands were unique until then.


So was WWI. Change out 'Article 231' for 'WWI' and 'reparations demands' for 'costs involved' and you have a good description of WWI;

Both WWI and the totally abnormal and exaggerated costs involved were unique until then.

This was the problem set before the people trying to decide on a settlement that offered their own people what their respective governments had promised during the war. No settlement was going to be acceptable to everyone, as it was even the victors walked away disatisfied as they had not got all they wanted!

South
Financial supporter
Posts: 2330
Joined: 06 Sep 2007 09:01
Location: USA

Re: Germany and the War Guilt Clause

Postby South » 17 May 2018 10:57

Good morning Don,

We are in disagreement.

You're generalizing just too much.

No "single 'propaganda'" ?! The "Germans been so united" ?!

Germany's post-war Nationalists-representative of the "old regime" were closely united with the Rosa Luxemburg component in their war views ?! The Nationalists were bitterly opposed to "democracy" and to socialism in all its forms. They were most definitely opposed to those Germans who sought a conciliatory foreign policy. Recall their position on Alsace-Lorraine and Upper Silesia. The Nationalists denounced the French. Did German Communists unify in this German nationalism against the French to include the French Communists ?

Now, do review the origins of the Weimar Republic. I ask why was the post-war Republic set up in Weimar and not Berlin. Weimar had a socio-political complexion reflecting liberalism. Berlin was avoided "like the plague" because of anticipated riots and insurrections against the new post-war government.

Also recall that the Weimar Republic had a constitution that was NOT submitted to the citizenry for ratification. It was declared in force on the day of publication. This event allows me to say the Germans were not that united on all the issues of the war.

I'll close with mentioning that 2 days prior to the 11 November Armistice, Germany ditched their kings and princes when proclaiming the new Weimar Republic (22 thrones?). William of Hohenzollen and the House of Wittelsbach come to mind. A sanctuary castle in Bavaria or a hideout in the Netherlands better places to flee to than Berlin or Kant's birthplace ? The Germans of all groups were not that united.

Much propaganda and opinion-molding occurred.


~ Bob
eastern Virginia, USA

User avatar
Don71
Member
Posts: 306
Joined: 30 Jan 2011 14:43

Re: Germany and the War Guilt Clause

Postby Don71 » 17 May 2018 11:53

Hello South,
you subject me to things that I have never said and render my quotes absolutely incomplete to interpret something.
I have clearly stated that the German population was 95-100% against Article 231 and the Versailles Treaty and was completely united in this issue/question!
You can not reinterpret this statement for other political issues and questions!

And yes, even the unions have been 90% involved in the Ruhrkampf and stood behind the Weimarer government and the passive resistance to the occupation of the Ruhr and thus also the Treaty of Versailles!

MarkN
Member
Posts: 1115
Joined: 12 Jan 2015 13:34
Location: On the continent

Re: Germany and the War Guilt Clause

Postby MarkN » 17 May 2018 14:09

Don71 wrote: I have clearly stated that the German population was 95-100% against Article 231 and the Versailles Treaty and was completely united in this issue/question!

So what?

Germans did not have a choice about whether Article 231 existed or not, they had a choice between signing the paper or the war continuing. At least Hindenburg understood that. Perhaps it would have been better for Germany not to sign and the Allied armies to have marched all the way to Berlin destroying everything in their path. I mean, at least you could have kept your Germanic pride intact by not having to admit any war guilt!

User avatar
The Ibis
Member
Posts: 261
Joined: 27 Dec 2015 01:06
Location: The interwebs

Re: Germany and the War Guilt Clause

Postby The Ibis » 17 May 2018 21:17

Terry Duncan wrote:
Don71 wrote:If you can't see the differences between 1450, 2100 und 94150 tons of gold, from which Germany paid 23695 tonnes of Gold, I can't help you and I have no reason to discuss with you!


About 1/3 of European Russia was stripped away to set up German puppet states, which included almost all of Russian industry.


What a ridiculous assertion by the people who otherwise insist on the self-determination of peoples, Finnland, the Baltic and the Ukraine weren't russians, or is this a myth?


Self-determination? Do you mistake me for Wilson? Nowhere have I said I thought that was even vaguely viable as a proposition even if it can be seen as a reasonable idea - though I am sure the Britain and France of 1919 can hardly be said to support it for obvious reasons. Are you disputing that the area taken from Russia was around 33% of European Russia or that it was the most industrialised part of Russia? Self-determination is a fine idea when it can be supported by military might, otherwise you end up with a patchwork of small defenceless states just waiting for the first predatory power to annex them, just as happened in the late 1930's - if anything a far greater cause of WWII than Versailles could have ever been.

Don71 wrote:Which minorities were suppressed by the German Empire or Germany at all during this time?


Poles for a start or do you wish to maintain they wanted their nation annexed by Austria, Prussia and Russia? Then of course we can look at the Zabern Affair to see another. I presume you dont want me to look outside of Europe? If we want to consider the Hapsburg Empire we can maybe quadruple the total of oppressed minorities, Germany was far from in favour of self-determination in that case, only in Russia where it suited them to set up puppet states.


I had a bunch to say on this thread I thought. But I can't figure out where to jump in and whatever it was I read about war guilt either you or Mark covered. So other than to mention that there are a couple of really good recent papers addressing Article 231, including Nathan Orgill's "Reawakening the Nation: British Journalists and the Interwar Debate on the Origins of the First World War" and John Moses' "The War Guilt Question: A Note on Politics and Historiography in the Weimar Republic,"* I'll comment on one thing you said.

It has become somewhat fashionable (and not incorrect) to discuss Lenin in the same breath as Wilson on the subject of self-determination (Erez Manela made the case quite well). Josh Sanborn argues that perhaps the most powerful and possibly influential statement of self determination came from the Petrograd Soviet in March 1917 while Lenin and Trotsky were still in exile. That statement, followed shortly thereafter by the Provisional Government's clarification of war aims (which included self-determination as a plank) that same month really moved the needle for separatist groups not only in Russia but in Europe and elsewhere.

*There also an article that looks like it might be very interesting by Vincent Laniol entitled "L’article 231 du traité de Versailles, les faits et les représentations. Retour sur un mythe," but I haven't read it.
"The secret of managing is to keep the guys who hate you away from the guys who are undecided." - Casey Stengel

South
Financial supporter
Posts: 2330
Joined: 06 Sep 2007 09:01
Location: USA

Re: Germany and the War Guilt Clause

Postby South » 17 May 2018 21:53

Good afternoon Don,

If an apology is due from me, here it is. I am here to discuss history and not offend anyone. Terry has a squad assembled here for historical research, less drifting over to the AHF Lounge. All else is out of order.

My defense does exist however in that you discussed much more than Article 231.

Related to this is a Bolshevist principle Lenin pushed: and shortened to :"Who, Whom? (Kto - Kovo?") ... Lenin's principle was "The whole question is -who will overtake whom?". Senor Trotsky (later a resident of Mexico) shortened it to "Who-whom?" It was the formula involving class struggle. I write this because I challenged your point(s) on a unified German body politic. The German Communists were not in agreement with, for example, the German royal class.

Returning to matters you presented other than 231 such as the Dawes Plan and the Young Plan, you'll see that repayment of war loans must also be discussed. Again, you introduced here pertinent material - but incomplete. Article 231 did not directly discuss French obligations to repay US financial institutions they had loans from.

Now, those darn trade unionists ! ...................


~Bob
eastern Virginia, USA

South
Financial supporter
Posts: 2330
Joined: 06 Sep 2007 09:01
Location: USA

Re: Germany and the War Guilt Clause

Postby South » 17 May 2018 22:42

Good afternoon The Ibis,

Fashion and self-determination involving Wilson and Lenin might currently be in style.

The "most powerful and possible statement..." involving self-determination did not involve Lenin, a leader of a new government whose government did not control the Czarist Russian land mass until 1922.

The most powerful and influential statement in re Wilson's Point 10 was made by US Senator Henry Cabot Lodge ("14 Reservations").

Some foot - notes to clarify President Wilson's "self-determination":

1. The Great War ended and Japan sought German colonial possessions in China (especially Tsingtao). President Wilson acquiesced to this.
2. Nguyen Ai Quoc (a/k/a/ Ho Chi Minh) sought "self-determination and tried to give a petition to Wilson's Secretary of State Robert Lansing.

The list is just too long to continue...........

Return to Senator Henry Cabot Lodge; He presented the most powerful refutation of the Wilson dangers being generated. President Wilson was an idealist living in a world that did not exist. If the locals of Windhoek, SW Africa were allowed self-determination, it wouldn't qualify for a foot-note. Wilson and his handling the reparations AND the loan repayments to the creditors generated another dispute shortly after.


~ Bob
eastern Virginia, USA

User avatar
The Ibis
Member
Posts: 261
Joined: 27 Dec 2015 01:06
Location: The interwebs

Re: Germany and the War Guilt Clause

Postby The Ibis » 17 May 2018 23:22

South wrote:Good afternoon The Ibis,

Fashion and self-determination involving Wilson and Lenin might currently be in style.

The "most powerful and possible statement..." involving self-determination did not involve Lenin, a leader of a new government whose government did not control the Czarist Russian land mass until 1922.

The most powerful and influential statement in re Wilson's Point 10 was made by US Senator Henry Cabot Lodge ("14 Reservations").

Some foot - notes to clarify President Wilson's "self-determination":

1. The Great War ended and Japan sought German colonial possessions in China (especially Tsingtao). President Wilson acquiesced to this.
2. Nguyen Ai Quoc (a/k/a/ Ho Chi Minh) sought "self-determination and tried to give a petition to Wilson's Secretary of State Robert Lansing.

The list is just too long to continue...........

Return to Senator Henry Cabot Lodge; He presented the most powerful refutation of the Wilson dangers being generated. President Wilson was an idealist living in a world that did not exist. If the locals of Windhoek, SW Africa were allowed self-determination, it wouldn't qualify for a foot-note. Wilson and his handling the reparations AND the loan repayments to the creditors generated another dispute shortly after.


~ Bob
eastern Virginia, USA


Hi Bob. I'm not quite sure what you are responding to. The fact that Lodge attempted to refute Wilson's ideas or the fact that Wilson was a hypocrite really has nothing to do with whether Wilson's ideas were tremendously influential to nationalist/separatist leaders around the world. The reason Lenin's ideas took longer to resonate has as much to do with distribution problems as anything else, but there is no question his ideas became tremendously influential and resonated with nationalists around the world for decades.

Wilson and his handling of reparations and the loan repayments have zero to do with my post, although that is a fascinating subject to be sure. I'd recommend seeking out the work done by Sally Marks (who passed away earlier this year), Stephen Schuker and Mark Trachtenberg if you are not familiar with it.
"The secret of managing is to keep the guys who hate you away from the guys who are undecided." - Casey Stengel

South
Financial supporter
Posts: 2330
Joined: 06 Sep 2007 09:01
Location: USA

Re: Germany and the War Guilt Clause

Postby South » 18 May 2018 09:19

Good morning The Ibis,

My response was to the "most powerful statement" re self-determination. At the time the most powerful - and successful - was by Senator Lodge; not Lenin's.

Self-determination was indeed tremendously influential...but this was later. It was Lodge who ended Wilson's League of Nations with US participation.

You did mention the "provisional government's clarification of war aims ... self-determination ... sepa groups ... and elsewhere". This is why I again injected debt service ........ super-ordinated to the reparations. After the combat stopped it was debt service at the top of the pile. Ho Chi Min's aspirations are still only foot notes. Ditto a socialist republic in Hungary, ... and all the rest. The US political establishment fully adressed the war aims of provisional governments - and debt service got priority.

Appreciate the recommendations. I am too super-saturated with so much material I cannot even retrieve stuff I know where I put it.


~ Bob
eastern Virginia, USA

User avatar
The Ibis
Member
Posts: 261
Joined: 27 Dec 2015 01:06
Location: The interwebs

Re: Germany and the War Guilt Clause

Postby The Ibis » 18 May 2018 16:54

South wrote:Good morning The Ibis,

My response was to the "most powerful statement" re self-determination. At the time the most powerful - and successful - was by Senator Lodge; not Lenin's.


You are making a very different point than the one I was. The genie was out of the bottle. Lodge didn't do anything to put it back in. The fact the US didn't join the League was far less significant generally than you are intimidating (and less important than the popular version of history suggests), and I think you'd have a hard time making the case that it was the American failure to join the League or even ratify the treaty that either stifled the movement (nothing did) or even disillusioned nationalists. The American Senate's rejection of the treaty was perhaps icing on the cake in pushing some towards Lenin's message. But then that is difficult to prove. Wilson was still well thought of in many circles and given many of the nationalist movements (though hardly all) were already heavily influenced by socialist ideology, it is likely Lenin's message would resonate more anyhow.

Self-determination was indeed tremendously influential...but this was later.


Self-determination as a theory was already very influential to nationalists. The idea continued to spread as more heard the message and saw that it was possibly achievable.

The bottom line here is we should be on another thread if we want to discuss this further.

You did mention the "provisional government's clarification of war aims ... self-determination ... sepa groups ... and elsewhere". This is why I again injected debt service ........ super-ordinated to the reparations. After the combat stopped it was debt service at the top of the pile. Ho Chi Min's aspirations are still only foot notes. Ditto a socialist republic in Hungary, ... and all the rest. The US political establishment fully adressed the war aims of provisional governments - and debt service got priority.


I don't disagree on the importance of debt service or reparations to the discussions. But it has nothing to do with my point vis a vis the importance of various actors with respect to the self-determination movement.

Appreciate the recommendations. I am too super-saturated with so much material I cannot even retrieve stuff I know where I put it.


I know how that goes.
"The secret of managing is to keep the guys who hate you away from the guys who are undecided." - Casey Stengel

User avatar
Terry Duncan
Host - WW1 section
Posts: 4626
Joined: 13 Jun 2008 22:54
Location: Kent

Re: Germany and the War Guilt Clause

Postby Terry Duncan » 18 May 2018 17:58

The Ibis wrote:Self-determination as a theory was already very influential to nationalists. The idea continued to spread as more heard the message and saw that it was possibly achievable.


This was one of the problems in the run-up to WWII, places that had self-determined were not always sustainable as soon as a larger neighbour decided it needed annexing. That said, if there had been a will to enforce the terms of Versailles fully, a second war would have been avoided, at least in the form it took. Self-determination is a fine principle, but as to if it could have been implimented better post-WWI is another matter.

South
Financial supporter
Posts: 2330
Joined: 06 Sep 2007 09:01
Location: USA

Re: Germany and the War Guilt Clause

Postby South » 18 May 2018 18:06

Good afternoon The Ibis,

I now know how you're calibrating your points. This is fair and completely acceptable in the study of history.

Some material just can't be quantified for comparisons, for example, the US not joining the League.

Now, ...

Was not self-determination stifled - especially re the colonial empires Wilson addressed ? !

My mention of debt service and the related reparations governed MUCH of the post - combat picture. Thus, when reading "provisional governments" such as pre Alex. Kerensky or during his admin, and reading "war aims", the finance issues were a major matter. The numbers were cloudy - still are - but as recent as the US recognition of the USSR on 17 Nov 33, the Soviet Union did NOT pay the US.

One aspect that's difficult to comment on is where this material belongs. Does it belong in a thread titled "Germany and the War Guilt Clause" or elsewhere. At the highest level of meetings of state, these issues have people present furthering their policy planks and the related mechanical mechanisms.


~ Bob
eastern Virginia, USA

User avatar
The Ibis
Member
Posts: 261
Joined: 27 Dec 2015 01:06
Location: The interwebs

Re: Germany and the War Guilt Clause

Postby The Ibis » 18 May 2018 19:08

South wrote:Good afternoon The Ibis,

I now know how you're calibrating your points. This is fair and completely acceptable in the study of history.


Thank heavens. If I believed you thought otherwise, I just don't think I could bear it. :wink:

Some material just can't be quantified for comparisons, for example, the US not joining the League.


It depends how much data you have.

Now, ...

Was not self-determination stifled - especially re the colonial empires Wilson addressed ? !


It depends on what you mean by stifled.

My mention of debt service and the related reparations governed MUCH of the post - combat picture. Thus, when reading "provisional governments" such as pre Alex. Kerensky or during his admin, and reading "war aims", the finance issues were a major matter.


Fine. Unrelated to my point, but fine. Lets put that to the side.

One aspect that's difficult to comment on is where this material belongs. Does it belong in a thread titled "Germany and the War Guilt Clause" or elsewhere. At the highest level of meetings of state, these issues have people present furthering their policy planks and the related mechanical mechanisms.


I don't think it has to do with what the OP posted. Maybe the thread morphed sufficiently it doesn't matter. My forum moderation days are behind me.
Last edited by The Ibis on 18 May 2018 19:12, edited 1 time in total.
"The secret of managing is to keep the guys who hate you away from the guys who are undecided." - Casey Stengel


Return to “First World War”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: CommonCrawl [Bot]