Letters: Weimar did not fail solely because of reparations
Published 21/06/2014 | 02:30
Richard Dowling (Irish Independent, June 20) implies that the reparations imposed on Germany after World War I were a cause of the rise of Nazism. While it may be true that Hitler lied about reparations to attract a disillusioned public, the fact is that the reparations themselves did not cause the hyperinflation that affected the Weimar Republic and its eventual replacement by Nazi Germany.
Even if there had been no reparations, Germany still faced major issues as it needed to pay its war debts. Because during the war, taxes were not increased to cover the costs, and after the war there would be even more demand for social services.
Germany also had a trade deficit and poor exchange rate after the war into the 1920s and as the value of the mark rose again, that increased inflation.
In fact, the German economy performed well up to the point that foreign investment dried up following the 1929 Wall Street crash. Even then the Dawes Plan reduced payments through a range of international loans.
Furthermore, focusing on the reparations and inflation doesn't address the fact that by having its army restricted to 115,000 men the burden on the taxpayer was vastly reduced. While reparations were a burden, they were not such a burden as to jeopardise the economy. It was because the politicians of the Weimar Republic failed to make better use of these opportunities that economic collapse occurred.
Also, if reparations caused hyperinflation, why is it that the inflation predated reparations and that up to 1922 Germany paid hardly any reparations and after 1930 Germany was claiming that reparations were causing deflation? It must also be recalled that the German government paid huge subsidies to the population of the Ruhr for their passive resistance under French occupation and was using increasingly valueless marks to repay foreign debts.
While it's very tempting for people in Greece, Ireland, Portugal, Spain, Italy and elsewhere to blame the euro or the IMF or Germany, which has an element of truth, the other side of that argument is that even if there had been no financial crisis these countries' economies were already too far down a cul de sac that pain was inevitable.
Greece and Italy need to face the reality that the reason their economies are such a mess is in large part because of the internal corruption in which Greeks and Italians partake.
Irish, Spanish and Portuguese people need to face the hard truth that they allowed themselves to be bribed by politicians using unsustainable cheap credit and the Germans, Dutch and Finns, before they patronise others about prudence, might like to reflect why they were quite happy for everyone else to be buying their exports and didn't seem to care too much about the impact of a credit boom on the rest of the EU.
Certainly, the EU needs to face the reality that in a single currency the burden of debt needs to be centralised, just like the burden is spread evenly across 50 US states, and not placed on each state according to its portion of the national dollar debt. But the above countries also need to come to terms with their own internal failings.
CANARY WHARF, LONDON
HANDS OFF OUR E-CIGARETTES
I fully agree with the article 'Support for e-cigarettes' ('Health and Living') where academics and public health experts called on the World Health Organisation to refrain from "reducing the use" of e-cigarettes ahead of important international negotiations on their regulation later this year.
These 50 experts said e-cigarettes play a significant role in driving down smoking. I couldn't agree more.
After smoking for nearly 40 years and many failed attempts at trying to give up through patches, chewing gum and cold turkey, nothing worked, I went on e-cigarettes four months ago and so far great success – these are the best thing since sliced bread and they "work".
My sister is nine months on them, families of five are months on them, nearly everyone I know is on them and the result is we are feeling much healthier.
My breathing has improved already, I have less sinus infections and am much fitter than normal.
It also benefits the community, with a cleaner environment with no passive smoke, and it will crack down on the amount of illegal cigarettes being sold because they won't be in demand.
However, the governments internationally will lose out from the high taxes paid on cigarettes and tobacco. So will the tobacco industry, as the money now saved by smokers will instead be spent in the local economy on food, clothes,
drink, holidays – all keeping local people in local jobs.
E-cigarettes have been the cure we smokers have been looking for and no ugly health package that Minister for Health James Reilly is proposing
was ever going to work. Instead the e-cigarette should be hailed as a great success.
DYLAN PUT ON A GOOD SHOW
Having read the letter from David Bradley (Irish Independent, June 19) regarding the Bob Dylan concert in the O2 on Tuesday night, I feel I must put forward an alternative view.
Over the past decade I have been lucky enough to see Dylan play live on several occasions and I must say his performance this time around was as good or better than anything I have previously witnessed.
I accept a working knowledge of his most recent recordings was probably essential as they made up about half the set, but when the classics like 'Tangled Up In Blue' and 'Simple Twist Of Fate' were rolled out they were performed with a clarity of voice and subtlety of arrangement that has rarely been present in recent times.
As for his failure to interact with the audience I can only assume Mr Bradley is unfamiliar with seeing Dylan live as I doubt any regular attendees at these concerts would have been expecting a big 'Hello, Dublin' or any any type of pat on the back for coming along.
PROSPEROUS, CO KILDARE
REASONS TO INVITE THE ROYALS
There are four positives that justify a member of the royal family to be present at the 1916 commemoration.
The first is that the king signed the Home Rule Bill in September 1914, which is more or less what we got in the Treaty of 1921.
Second is the king's speech on the opening of Northern Ireland parliament in June 1921. I quote: "The future lies in the hands of the Irish people themselves. May this historic gathering be the prelude of a day in which the Irish people, North and South, under one parliament or two, as those parliaments may decide, shall work together in common love for Ireland upon the sure foundation of mutual justice and respect."
This speech was the catalyst for the truce and the treaty debates.
The third reason is the statute of Westminster signed by the king in 1931 and this is the real date of our independence.
The product of a commonwealth conference was the Statute of Westminster; this act confirms the legislative independence of the self-governing dominions of the Commonwealth.
Thanks to the Statute of Westminster, De Valera got rid of the governor, the oath and the voters passed the 1937 Constitution. It was a change of the love of power under the Empire to the power of love in the Commonwealth.
The fourth reason is that Britain and the US protected us from Hitler's hordes in World War II.
ADDRESS WITH EDITOR