German under League – Russian under NATO


Paris/Weimar/Versailles: High reparations? No Problem

In 1918 or 1919, the question of reparations was not new. Following the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-1871, la Grande Nation was forced to pay reparations to the newly formed German Empire.

What actually was a novelty at the end of the Great War (1914-1919)? Apart from two guilt clauses as the Versailles diktat's foundation, quite a few new things were introduced. Almost fifty years later than the Franco-German war, Britain and its Entente partner - being the restored owner of Alsace-Lorraine due to the Armistice Agreement - went much further in their treatment of the subordinate party. For a start, Paris's share of Weimar's towering reparation payments stayed behind in comparison with London's (G-H. Soutou 2015, P. de Bourgraaf 2018). This may surprise many who were brought up with the notion that France could not be stopped claiming German indemnities. Germany's confiscated submarines, ad hoc reimbursement for the scuttled high-see fleet (June 21, 1919), the total of colonial possessions which size in square meters outshone pre-war Germany more than five times, all of which was enforced by Britain and its colonial forces on the southern hemisphere at the Paris conference, surely contributed to its Entente-partner eclipsing rate. Since a fasces of two British delegations in Paris was able to secure its war goals one by one, most notably including those of the Empire forces, their next interest was to restrain a increasingly intransigent France.

Wholesale new was Paris' policy of "ethnic cleansing", to put it in terms of contemporary usage. In the Summer of 1922, Raymond Poincaré, wartime president now acting foreign secretary, announced to expel German residents from Alsace-Lorraine, which came to be another wave of extraditions following the immediate 1918/1919 one.

At the same time, it was not at all only the French part of the Entente that kept harassing Weimar citizens for years to come. Aufa💯 commemorates the centenary of the naturalisation crisis (1922-1924). While the majority of German colonists had, most notably during the three-times extended Armistice, been deported to Europe (by British colonial and military forces), suddenly forced naturalisation threatened the remnants unto the roots of their identity. The Union of South Africa under the lead of Jan Christiaan Smuts - leader of the British Delegation complementing British Imperial Delegation during the prolonged ceasefire - wanted to automatically naturalise the remaining Germans in South-West Africa as British citizens. Though the conqueror of this adjacent colony (1915) was supposed to rule the self-created C-mandate on behalf of the newly formed League of Nations. It is still an open secret that an increasingly self-asserted Pretoria would not less loose from the goal of instantaneous annexation, which was pursued at the cost of the League's principles. Obviously, this meant putting the 1918 agreement and a subsequent peace treaty seriously at risk. This is not the history lessons that most of us have been taught. Smuts' administration was entrusted with mandatory rule replacing the Germans on the northwestern border. In 1923, its naturalisation plan would be submitted to the British-led League (A. Wempe, Revenants of the German Empire, p. 96-102).

Apart from his military and political career, Smuts became known as an ardent support of holism. As the same time, he kept on practising the politics of exclusion and international isolation for Germany and German individuals, no matter their new state was being built on solid principles of democracy. Entente forces all around the world did all they could in order to sustain Weimar's outcast status.

By the way, how did we deal with the Russian Federation's fledgling democracy, that is in the quintessential mid 1990s? It is not an open secret how a Baltic state's Russian minorities were treated. In other newly created states within the post-Soviet vacuum, a Russian (i.e. democrat in a way of 1923 Weimar democrat 🇩🇪) has not been treated any better. From the perspective of post-war timelines, the naturalisation crisis sits on a comparable spot. Easily avoidable situations such as these create defection and thus, potential soldiers to a "distant" future, be it roughly ten years in Weimar or two decades on the Wolga (see footnote P. Keating). Sadly, the future is now.

(footnote 143)  BBC News, "Aberystwyth plaque marks town's 'shameful' episode",; Glenford Howe, lecture World War I and nation building in the West Indies, In Flanders Fields Museum und CEGESOMA. To end all wars? Geopolitical aftermath and commemorative legacies of the First World War. Ypern, Belgium, 22-25 August 2018.