Germany Only Able to Pay £7.5 Billion in War Reparations
An American cartoon depicting the burden of war reparations on Germany. © New York World 1921, via Wikimedia Commons.

Belfast News-Letter, 12 February 1921

The political changes on the island of Ireland in the 1920s took place against a backdrop of wider upheaval in Europe, following the end of the First World War. One ongoing issue was the amount of war reparations Germany should have to pay. The Treaty of Versailles identified Germany as the sole guilty party for the war and demanded it pay billions in reparations. This report from the Belfast News-Letter records Germany’s pleas that it was only able to meet some of the costs demanded.

Germany’s Protest: Preparing her Case for London Conference. Only able to pay £7,500,000,000.

At their meeting with the Government yesterday, in connection with the drawing up of Germany’s case for the coming London Conference, the German experts … calculated that, in order to be able to pay the annual instalments and the 12 percent export duty demanded in the Paris proposals, Germany would have to raise her exports to over 14,000,000,000 gold marks (£700,000,000). 

If … Germany were forced to increase her production to this extent she would become a pest to all the nations of the world by deluging their markets with German goods, and thus disastrously intensifying the prevailing economic crisis.

The Ministry of Finance has arrived at the conclusion … that the utmost Germany can pay for reparations is 150,000,000,000 gold marks (£7,500,000,000) including all that has so far paid in cash and goods in this respect.

In this connection it is interesting to note that the amount fixed by the Allied Conference as the total to be demanded from Germany was £11,300,000,000, payable in annuities spread over 42 years.

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