The Treaty of Versailles marked the end of the war between Germany and the Allies. Signed on July 28th 1919, the treaty essentially laid the blame of the war on Germany’s shoulders and as such, consequences would have to be paid. The reparations outlined in the Treaty spelled out Germany’s punishment and were meant to cripple Germany in such a way that Germany would never have the means to ever start another conflict in the future.
This article, also known as the infamous “War Guilt Clause”, forced Germany to take full responsibility for the conflict and as such, was required to pay the bill for the amount of damage caused by their war actions during WWI.
The Allies acknowledged Germany’s incapability to fulfill the reparations demanded of them. However, the Allies required that Germany nonetheless undertake the compensation for all civilian damages caused by German aggression by land, sea or air.
Article 232 demands that Germany also be responsible for the complete restoration of Belgium by reimbursement of the monies borrowed by Belgium from the Allies with interest at a rate of 5% per year.
The amount owed would be determined by the Reparation Commission and as such, the German government was responsible for issuing bonds equivalent to the weight of marks gold on May 1st, 1926, or on the 1st of May on any year leading up to 1926.
The amount owed would be determined by an Inter-Allied Commission, also known as the Reparation Commission, who would be responsible for:
- reviewing the claims made by other countries
- giving the German Government an opportunity to be heard
- drawing up a schedule of payments that designated the manner of payment and would span 30 years
- notifying the final tabulation of debt to Germany on or before May 1st, 1921
Should there be any remaining balance after the 30 years; the Allies would determine if Germany would still pay in later or an alternative.
The Reparation Commission would, after May 1st 1921, have the power to extend the time of payment and modify the form of payment after reviewing Germany’s resources and capability. The decision to cancel any part of the debt could not be carried out except with the authority of the governments represented in the Commission.
In order to enact a rapid restoration after the war, Germany was to pay in installments, and in whichever form of payment that the Commission decreed, 20,000,000,000 gold marks within the years of 1919-1921. The amount would be put towards the expenses of Allied armies. Germany would also be able to utilize supplies of food and raw materials, with the approval of the Allies, to help pay out of the debt. This would be added to the bonds from Article 232 that would still be paid concurrently.
Germany had to agree to utilizing her economic resources towards the industries of merchant shipping, physical restoration, coal and its byproducts, dyes and chemical products, provided that the value and services of those companies would go towards the debt that Germany owed the Allies.
The installments made by Germany would go to the amount owed to each Allied country. The sum owed would be divided proportionately to the damages incurred by each country, and such proportions were made on the basis of “general equity and the rights of each”. Value and services of properties and companies would be divided in the same manner as cash.
Germany was to pay cash in order to compensate for the monies, animals and “object of nature and securities” (heirlooms, fine art, jewelry) that was stolen during the war and found in German territory or that of her allies.
Germany had to pay the sums outlined in Articles 233-236, 238, and pay on time and in the manner requested by the Reparation Committee.
The German Government
- had to recognize the Reparation Commission and the power and authority given to it by the Treaty
- had to surrender all economic information relative to military operations to the Commission
- had to grant the members of the Commission and its agents the same rights enjoyed by diplomats of ‘friendly Powers’
- had to pay for the salaries and expense of the Commission and its staff.
Germany was to enact any force in legislation, orders and decrees that may be necessary to give complete effect to these provisions.
The provisions made in the Reparation Clauses do not apply to the Economic Clauses, nor to the product of liquidation except in terms of the final balance of Germany under Article 243.
Credit would be awarded to Germany for its cessation of Alsace-Lorraine and the Saar Basin, however the reimbursement of stolen property would not be deemed as credit.
- Based on Article 232, Germany must compensate every Allied nation due to:
- Everyone personally injured, civilian or soldier
- Every civilian who was maltreated by Germany or her allies
- Damage caused by Germany or her allies to occupied territories
- Damage caused by maltreatment of POWs
- Must pay pensions to the soldiers who are not 100 percent
- Must equal payment of Allied governments in aiding families of POWs
- Pay allowances to families of mobilized men, per each year of fighting
- Having forced civilians to labour for Germany
- Replace taken or lost property, due to German acts
- Damage from levies, fines, etc, imposed by Germany
- If Germany cannot play their dues in gold or ships, they must do so in bonds to ensure they pay off the debt
- German taxes are to be modified to ensure they are focused upon repayment
- Germany to pay 20,000,000,000 Marks gold bearer bonds, payable not later than May l, 1921, without interest.
- After, 40,000,000,000 Marks gold bearer bonds between 1921 to 1926 at 2.5 percent, and afterwards at five percent interest
- Debt interest for Germany starts after May 21, 1921
- Payment to be paid in gold, or its equivalency in the form of chattels, properties, commodities, businesses, rights, concessions within or without German territory, ships, bonds, shares or securities of any kind, or currencies of Germany or other States
- Within two months of signing the Treaty, Germany must give up:
- All its ships more than 1600 tons
- Half its ships between 1000 and 1600 tons
- One quarter of its steam trawlers, and one quarter of other fishing boats
- Within three months of signing, Germany must build ships for the Allies, not exceeding 200 000 tons gross
- Allied nations to receive compensation for Animals, machinery, equipment, tools and like articles of a commercial character which Germany took or destroyed within 60 days
- Reconstruction materials (eg bricks) and machinery restored to invaded areas by Dec 31, 1919
- Every month for three months, Germany to compensate:
- (1) To the French Government.
- 500 stallions (3 to 7 years);
- 30,000 fillies and mares (18 months to 7 years), type: Ardennais, Boulonnais or Belgian;
- 2,000 bulls (18 months to 3 years);
- 90,000 milch cows (2 to 6 years);
- 1,000 rams;
- 100,000 sheep;
- 10,000 goats.
- (2) To the Belgian Government.
- 200 stallions (3 to 7 years), large Belgian type;
- 5,000 mares (3 to 7 years), large Belgian type;
- 5,000 fillies (18 months to 3 years), large Belgian type;
- 2,000 bulls (18 months to 3 years);
- 50,000 milch cows (2 to 6 years);
- 40,000 heifers;
- 200 rams;
- 20,000 Sheep;
- 15,000 sows.
- Germany to give France 7 million tons of coal per year for ten years; plus how much coal production was lost in France after the war
- Germany to give Belgium eight million tons of coal annually for ten years.
- Coal to Italy: 36 million tons from 1920 to 1928
- Coal to Luxembourg: equal quantity lost due to the war
- To France: 35 000 tons of Benzol; 50 000 tons of Coal tar; 30 000 tons of sulphate of ammonia