The German Reply and the Impact of Total War
Total war impacted every aspect of life in Europe by the end of World War I. The government took control of economies and rationed civilian goods. During total war all citizens in the warring countries even those far removed from the battlefields were involved in the war effort. The government needed more men in more supplies to continue the war effort. The government expanded powers set up price controls rationed foods took over transportation and the free market system was put aside. During the Paris peace conference France, Britain and the United States each had different motivations and desires. Georges Clemenceau was the premiere of France and they wanted revenge and security against Germany. France wanted Germany stripped of weapons and wanted them to pay reparations to cover the cost of the war. France also wanted a new country called Rhineland as a buffer state between them and Germany. David Lloyd George the Prime Minister of Great Britain wanted to make the Germans pay for the war. Woodrow Wilson had a more idealistic desire. He thought World War I was a war against militarism and he wanted a United Nations with political independence so big and small nations could have international cooperation.
The Treaty of Versailles was five separate peace settlements with Germany, Austria, Hungary, Bulgaria and Turkey. The treaty with Germany was the most important. Article 231, the war guilt clause, said that Germany and Austria were responsible for starting the war. Article 231 said that Germany had to pay reparations for all damages that the Allied governments had sustained as a result of the war. The Germans also did not like the territorial provisions. Germany had to reduce its army to 100,000 men. Germany had to cut back its Navy and eliminate the Air Force completely. Alsace and Lorraine were given back to France. Sections of Eastern Germany were awarded to a new Polish state. There was a demilitarized zone stripped of weapons along the Rhine River. The Austro-Hungarian empire disappeared.
Nation states came from the lands include Finland, Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Austria and Hungary. On May 15, 1919 the Germans sent a reply to tell their version of what will happen because of the Treaty of Versailles. Germany said that it has transformed from an agricultural to an industrial state and now could not feed 40 million inhabitants if it has to give up its merchant marine vessels. Germany says if it loses its territory in the East that they will lose 21% of their wheat and potato production. They need raw materials and coal as well they fear they will lose a third of the production of the coalfields and that what little coal they do get they have to give to the allies. With the loss of the colonies and merchant fleet there will no longer be a position to import raw materials from abroad. Germany believes that it industries would be extinct. They will not be able to feed their people. Germany feels that many of their citizens will move away. 1,750,000 people were killed in 1 million were killed as a result of of the blockade that made their people starve. Germany feels that this will happen again and millions more will die.
I agree with Germany that if the world institutes requirements of the Treaty that millions of Germans will starve and go hungry. I believe that Germany instead of asking for them not to ratify the treaty I believe Germany should ask for another country to take it over completely. If Germany became part of France then the French government could take it over. Another idea would be to split up Germany into lots of small pieces and let the surrounding countries take it over. It is unthinkable that millions of Germans would starve because a handful of militaristic leaders decided they could win a war on the backs of the common people.