Friday, 24 October 2014

Little Homily

I am reminded by this of a little story that I'd like to share.

The last 'family' holiday my mother dragooned me into was a visit to Paris with her, my old man and my sister.  I must have been about 17.

We stayed at a hotel just near the Arc de Triomphe and did all the usual touristy things.

One evening, in the bar, the old man (who'd been a citizen soldier in the Western Desert and Italy) got into conversation with two other tourists of the same age as him. This was in about 1969 so he'd have been about 63 - about my age now.  The other two tourists, one a German bloke and the other an American were about the same age and discovered that they had also been in the Western Desert and Italy.  Things went well from then on. Their respective wives went to bed. They got stuck into the Kummel.

My mother knocked on my door at some ungodly hour and asked me to go down to the bar to find out how things were.

By that time the three of them had gone through at least two bottles of Kummel, and the overall opinion of the meeting was that WW2 was a bit of a mistake - and entirely the fault of the French anyway...


A K Haart said...

I miss that generation. They all had stories to tell.

Bayard said...

I did read an interesting article that proposed that WWI was entirely the fault of the French. That seemed quite plausible, but WWII?

paulc156 said...

WWII because it was the French who more than anyone insisted on the full implementation of Versailles treaty obligations and burdens on Germany would be one argument for blaming the French.

Another which would also implicate the British [and the Polish]was the refusal to come to the aid of Prague [Munich agreement]and France did until 1938 have a treaty with Czechoslovakia.

The Stigler said...


Actually, it's a bit of a myth about Versailles. There were some reparations, but it was mostly a deception - Germany had to pay around 1/3rd of what the French were told they would be paying.

WW2 was caused by a combination of effects. The rise of the Nazis happened because of the humiliation of reparations, mismanagement of the economy under Weimar and rural peasants supporting Hitler's anti-modernisation agenda.

And once the Nazis got into power and had a dictatorship, you had someone who put the destruction of the Jews and Bolsheviks over the economics of the country.

Pablo said...

Why The German Republic Fell by Bruno Heilig

paulc156 said...

T.S. I put those up as arguable /plausible reasons' to lay blame with France. My own understanding though is that the Versailles treaty was a pretty central factor, and that ultimately even if the envisaged reparations may not have materialised [Germany just repudiated them] they were due and paid in large amounts in the crucial period after the war prior to the French invasion and subsequent to it. Part of the issue was that whilst reparations were due Germany was effectively shut out of international markets if it paid them [via impoverishment] or if it defaulted. The occupation of the Ruhr [Germany's industrial heartland] by the French in 1923 at the culmination of a crisis [including non payment of reparations]which had began immediately after the end of the war. At this stage reparations were very much central to Germany's economic ills. It was in the aftermath of this that hyperinflation ensues and directly with it ultra nationalism including but not only the Nazi Party's rise to eventual power can all be traced to this time.

Furthermore there was a plan to reduce future reparations [the Young plan]which disappointed German expectations [only approx' 15% reduction was achieved].

Much of the financial issue revolved around war debts owed by the Brits and French to the US. They wanted the US to forgive some of those debts before they could do likewise with Germany and Congress was not in the mood to do play ball. All this is from a very well received book by Adam Tooze. Wages of Destruction. 'The making and breaking of the Nazi Economy'. [2006].

He goes on to say that even much later, after 1929 Versailles had serious ramifications "one key factor contributing to the destabilization of the Weimar Republic after 1929 was the disappointment of the hopes invested in America's 'new order' by Germany's pro-Republican forces." and reference this disappointment he specifically cites a "comprehensive revision to Versaille terms" which had been hoped for fails to materialise.

Steven_L said...

The French did bugger all when Hitler marched his troops into the Rhineland?