Greece and the Treaty of Versailles

The community of European nations is currently re-enacting the Treaty of Versailles with Greece playing the role of Germany and the ramifications have clearly not been thought through.

The ongoing and increasingly burdensome financial sanctions being placed upon Greece by its neighbours is a recipe for disaster that, if they are not stopped, will send Greece hurtling towards fascist nationalism as it sees its heritage stripped away one column at a time.

The requirements that continue to be piled upon the nation credited with founding democracy and the modern western world are unconscionable and mind mindbogglingly difficult to understand.

The benefits related to the repayment of the outstanding loans pales in comparison to the instability that is almost certain to come when Greece, crushed under the weight of austerity initiatives, collapses and sends shock waves through Europe and beyond.

While the circumstances that led to Greece’s current economic state are different from those that led to Versailles the consequences could be just as dire, if not moreso.

The Treaty of Versailles – In the wake of World War 1 Europe and the Americas sought to bind Germany to very strict war reparations as a consequence of their defeat and in an effort to subjugate the nation to a point where it could not rise again in such fashion against the rest of Europe.

The treaty was signed June 28, 1919 effectively ending the war and saddling an already destroyed Germany with a $441 billion USD debt (in 2015 dollars) to cover the cost of reconstruction throughout the rest of Europe. This was Article 231 of the treaty later to become known as the War Guilt clause.

Germany had little choice but to accept the treaty terms or risk an Allied invasion and occupation.

Just as the Greek population is highly critical of the current terms being placed upon it by Europe so too the German population in 1919 roundly rejected the treaty and resented the implications and the impact on the German people and economy.

Ultimately the treaty led to severe political instability in Germany, not to mention unprecedented economic hardship and joblessness making the rise of Adolph Hitler and his National Socialist Party (the Nazis) relatively easy. By appealing to the German people’s pride and by creating a mythology of its history Hitler’s rhetoric of strength and call to take Germany back for the German people resonated strongly and drowned out other voices as it seemed the only option. To a desperate people the words of a madman sound like reason.

To paraphrase the great Chinese philosopher of warfare Sun Tzu – when you back your enemy against a river they have no place to go and nothing left to lose…they will fight as if death is the only other option.

Germany had its back up against a river and its response, however horrifying, was the response of a people who felt they had no other options except ceasing to exist. With these things in mind Germany began the long and inevitable march toward World War 2 and the deaths of tens of millions of people.

So too at this point in history Greece has been backed up against a river with no apparent source of escape. One of the terms of the current bailout deal is that Greece is required to sell $50 billion of property to Europe.

What property is worth so much? There is already talk that they will have to consider selling precious Grecian ruins like the Acropolis and the beautiful Greek islands that dot their coastline.

Sell your history to stay alive…this is what the Greek people are hearing and it is not being received well.

What is happening in Europe right now is scandalous and ignorant. The potential consequences of holding Greece’s feet to the flames are frightening.

Most frustratingly, the country most resistant to forgiving Greece’s debt (or even a portion) is Germany. The very country who benefited on Feb. 27, 1953 from the signing of the German Debt Treaty, which saw Greece and the rest of Europe and the Americas forgive a substantial amount of German debt, built up after WW2 thus allowing for a new, stimulated economy to rise lifting Germany to one of the greatest economies on earth.

Right now, five years into the ridiculous austerity requirements of European bailout aid, Greece is in worse economic shape than ever. What they need is to have their debts forgiven as others have had theirs forgiven…what they need is a year of jubilee. Instead they are being handcuffed and thrown into the Aegean Sea while the rest of Europe salivates like vultures over its holdings.

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