The Economic Consequences of the Peace

In this section of his book The Economic Consequences of the Peace, John Maynard Keynes discusses what he believes to be the failings of the Treaty of Versailles.  He believes that the treaty will cause the economic situation in Europe to worsen, as well as fail to prevent future animosity amongst the opposing countries, stating that it contains “…nothing to make defeated Central Europe into good neighbors.”  Keynes’ views appear to be more similar to those of Woodrow Wilson in his 14 Points than those expressed in the official treaty, arguing that the treaty did too much to harm Germany.

Keynes offers many predictions as to how the treaty will throw Germany and blames the selfish wants of the leaders who drafted it for this.  He writes that the treaty has given Germany no means as to care for its people–most of the war debts have been placed upon them, making importing necessary resources from other countries near impossible.  Germany had already been weakened by the Allied Blockade during the war, making famine and death on a large scale inevitable under the conditions which the treaty created.  Immigrating out of Germany was also a challenge due to the large amounts of animosity directed toward them after the war, and the Treaty of Versailles forced them to take all blame for the war.  All of these harsh punishments both directly and indirectly imposed on Germany created a lasting bitterness which eventually led to even greater conflict.

Keynes’ views on post-war European economics are similar to those of Mark Mazower, who ascertains in Dark Continent that “Europe’s economic life was in chaos” (Mazower 104).  While Keynes focuses on Germany, he also argues that the rest of Europe is unprepared for such a great economic disaster that is to come.  His predictions that this economic turmoil will lead to even more conflict are accurate, as it allowed for the rise of vengeful leaders.  The poor economic conditions of post-war Europe are one of the greatest indirect causes of World War II.

2 thoughts on “The Economic Consequences of the Peace

  1. This post shows a strong understanding of Keynes’ text. A strong connection is found especially in context with our readings of Mazower and Versailles Treaty. However it has a small amount of analysis of the document. The concluding statement that the economic conditions of post-war Europe is one of the greatest indirect reasons for WWII is intriguing and contestable. I wish there had been a little more building on this idea or perhaps evidence to the point.

  2. This was a solid post. You did a good job hitting on Keynes’ point that the sanctions placed on Germany led to a conflict that was destined to linger on and escalate into the future. I think that the Mazower quote that you chose was a little vague, it could have been directed at a specific occurrence or issue that contributed to Europe’s economic chaos. I believe that the economic conditions were a direct, not indirect cause of WWII because it was felt in the every days lives of the people who were severely struggling, so much so that it caused war to became a viable option.

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