Keynes’ Opposition to the Treaty of Versailles

Keynes’ argument is based on the fact that he believes the environment in Germany established by the Treaty of Versailles will create conditions that force desperate men and women to political instability and radical forms of government in order to survive. When a group of people are pushed into a position of survival, they do not go quietly into the night; rather, they group together to fight for their common interests and survive as a whole. In regards to the 14 points, Keynes seems to argue in favor of them by arguing against the Treaty of Versailles. He states that the War Guilt Clause of the treaty will create the conditions established above. Because of Germany’s economy based around industry rather than agriculture, Germany was required to import food in order to sustain its population. However, with the new reparations and damage to its economy, Germany would no longer be able to subsidize these imports, leading to increased food prices and shortages all around. This is especially critical to the German population due to the fact that Germany was already facing food shortages for the past four years due to the Allied blockade. Keynes states that by instituting this treaty, not only will the Allied powers force Germany to drastic measures (possibly even communism), it will result in the deaths of millions of Germans. Keynes’ argument looks particularly strong to us, especially with our hindsight, and the fact that arguments that said the treaty was just and would support German growth are ignored in this general overview of a class. Further research is needed to see whether Keynes was an outlier in his prediction or if many economists of the time agreed in distaste for the oppression that this treaty created.

2 thoughts on “Keynes’ Opposition to the Treaty of Versailles

  1. Tim draws out Keynes’ economic argument effectively, following the financial and agricultural challenges of post war Germany. From my perspective this is not done easily as the complexity of the economic situation post World War I leading into the depression is one not understood by many of the economists of the time much less present day history students. The historiographical perspective about hindsight is interesting. Perhaps more analysis of the document would lead further into these ideas with the strong background knowledge.

  2. I though that this article was a very informative and thorough piece on the economic consequences of post war Germany. All of the major points of keynes article seem to be talked about at some point. My one issue is that there is no mention about the effect the treaty had on Europe as a whole and the long term consequences the treaty had on all of Europe. In that regard I wish it had been a little more informative, however overall it was a very good piece.

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