A topic that came up, both in lectures and discussions this week was a debate involving multiple interpretations of the German attitudes towards their own self inflicted road to inflation and later, hyper inflation and also their intentions behind not meeting their reparation obligations. I can’t help but wonder what the attitudes of the German political leaders who designed and put forth the plans of non fulfillment. Were they simply trying to preserve national pride for their people after such a humiliating defeat and peace treaty by not meeting their reparation obligations to the allies? The socialists in the Weimar Coalition seemed to have compassion for their people by wanting to uphold their commitments to paying for the social programs they had promised the citizens of the Republic. To me, this says that they couldn’t have been as evil as the allies made them out to be simply because they did not meet the reparation payments. To me, it appears they were under pressure, divided and panicked, focusing on retaining as much order as possible rather than acting from a place of hatred towards the allies and the proclaimed unfair treaty of Versailles.
However there is also the debate over their intentions throughout their tendency to continuously overprint money rather before the government’s switched and they adopted austerity measures under Stresseman. Were they purposefully causing inflation to lower their debts in an effort to avoid paying reparations anywhere close to the value the allies demanded, if paying anything of value at all? Or, were they simply trying to hold together a republic and a social and political order in a deeply divided and increasingly radical political sphere? It almost seems to me that no matter what the Weimar Republic Government did, it was a failure in the eyes of one group or another. If they payed the reparations, they betrayed the far right nationalist parties and the soldiers who they believed fought so bravely in the war. If they stopped overprinting money and adopted austerity measures, ending social programs for workers and veterans, the revolution had no lasting impact and had been for nothing, upsetting the far left parties. Its easy to criticize Weimar governments for all of their faults and decisions, however it is much harder to place ourselves in their shoes and create a perfect plan in line with the situation in Germany they inherited, even with our hindsight.