Courtesy Reuters

The Eastern Reparations Settlement

WHEN the general lines of the agreement reached at The Hague on January 20 regarding non-German reparations were published, many people, accustomed to German reparation figures, must have rubbed their eyes at the trifling sums involved. Given a German annuity of $500,000,000, it was difficult to understand why Hungary should pay one of only $2,000,000, even if this were going some time later to increase to $2,700,000; or Bulgaria one of about the same size. And Austria was excused from all further payments on reparation account! The answer is that there had been much cancelling-out.


Germany, in spite of the restitution of Alsace and Lorraine and considerable losses of territory on her eastern borders, was left by the Treaty of Versailles in an economic position that did not exclude the possibility of large reparation payments. The Treaties of St. Germain and Trianon, on the other hand, left Austria and Hungary to share between them the name of the old Dual Monarchy, and gave the bulk of its territory to other states. Indeed, the inheritance of the Dual Monarchy was a thing to be avoided. The Austrian Delegation to the Peace Conference, with this in mind, claimed that the new Austrian Republic had no more to do with the former Monarchy, held to be responsible for the war, than had the new Czechoslovak Republic. The treaties, however, made Austria, Hungary and Bulgaria liable for shares of a total reparation charge to be assessed upon Germany and her former allies, collectively, by the Reparation Commission, which was further to distribute the charge between the debtor states, to assess the value of state property in the territories ceded, and to set it off against the reparation charge laid upon each debtor state. Thus, when Austria and Hungary observed that it was unjust to saddle them with the old Monarchy's reparation liability, they were told that they might hope to see their effective charge reduced to negligible proportions; indeed, theoretically,

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