Keynes and the Treaty of Versailles

In reading the “Treaty of Versailles,” it becomes clear that the idea behind the treaty was to limit the powers and territories of Germany and have them surrender during the Great War; making them go from a very powerful country to a very weak country in the blink of an eye.  In his piece titled “The Economic Consequences of the Peace,”, English economist John Maynard Keynes spoke to the negative effects that the Versailles settlement would have on the nation of Germany.  Keynes’ highlighted that Germany would lose “her colonies, her merchant fleet and her foreign investments,” (Keynes) after signing this treaty.  Furthermore, due to these losses, Keynes argued that the industry of Germany will “be condemned inevitably to destruction,” (Keynes) and made it clear that German citizens will suffer many deaths due to the poor quality of life that will occur once the treaty is signed.  And while Keynes believed that the next logical step for German citizens would be to move to other places, for no work would be available in Germany, “many countries and the most important ones will oppose any German immigration,” (Keynes) forbidding them to move out of Germany, for once the treaty is signed they would want nothing to do with them.

Keynes believed that if Germany were to sign the Treaty of Versailles, they would be making a rash decision and could “throw back human progress for centuries.” (Keynes)  Rather than jump at this idea of a treaty, Keynes believed that Germany should wait it out and see if something more favorable might pop up.  And while Keynes’ piece was passionate and provided key points as to why the German community should not sign the treaty, Germany ended up signing anyway, ending the misery that the Great War provided them.  In signing this treaty, the German population displayed the exhaustion that the Great War had caused them and proved that they were willing to give up many of their powers in order to end their involvement in the war.  Ultimately, I think the biggest takeaway from Keynes’ piece is that Germany was willing to give up all their powers and territory in order to get out of World War I.  This is important because it showed that Germany was weak and exhausted.  By displaying their weakness in signing this treaty, a man named Adolf Hitler was able to take notice and developed a plan that involved him taking over Germany; a plan that became successful and with his leadership, Germany became a rather violent nation and caused another World War to begin.

3 thoughts on “Keynes and the Treaty of Versailles

  1. I agree with you that signing the treaty showed how weak the war had left Germany. Keynes saw this too but could see that signing the treaty would just cause more trouble for Germany as it tried to rebuild and survive after the war. Because of the oppression set onto Germany by it, the treaty did end up sending the world into another World War.

  2. I also agree that the treaty showed how weak Germany had become. One phrase that struck me because I read it over and over again was “Germany renounces.” It seemed like Germany had to renounce everything that it had and to accept its responsibility in all negative parts of the war. The goal of the treaty really was to completely beat down Germany and eliminate all of its power. I also agree that the treaty made it easier for a new war to start and for Adolf Hitler to take power. The nation was so weak that it needed someone to help rebuild it, which is exactly what Hitler was able to do.

  3. Germany had become so weak and desperate that they were willing to sign the humiliating treaty placed before them. However, they had little choice, for they were unable to continue fighting, and the Germans became the scapegoat of the war. The destruction was so wide-scale, and the loss of human life so enormous that The Allies were uncompromising, and extremely foolish when creating the provisions of the treaty. The Germans became the scapegoat of the war, and as we know, the status of scapegoat was passed to the Jews.

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