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Note to VIII, 231—Continued
which, without presenting any material significance, aim at divesting the German people of their honor. No act of violence can touch the honor of the German people. The German people, after frightful suffering in these last years, have no means of defending themselves by external action. Yielding to superior force, and without renouncing in the meantime its own view of the unheard-of-injustice of the peace conditions, the Government of the German Republic declares that it is ready to accept and sign the peace conditions imposed."
Whatever the situation was before, after this episode the German mind was set on the matter of "war guilt" and its association with article 231. The article itself was identic in the treaties of peace with Austria and Hungary, which were jointly liable under it; neither of their governments or peoples laid stress on the German interpretation. Nor did any of the three governments employ the interpretation to avoid responsibility for reparation obligations.
Following the luncheon at Thoiry of Aristide Briand, Premier of France, and Gustav Stresemann, Foreign Minister of Germany, in September 1927, the high hopes for an increasing friendliness between their two countries were dashed by an address of Stresemann to the German residents at Geneva in which he reiterated the "warguilt" complaint in such terms that the impression was given that the rapprochement was incidental to the satisfaction of German sensibilities on that matter.
In November 1929, while the negotiations for putting the New (Young) Plan into force were under way, the Nationalist Party obtained sufficient signatures to a petition to bring before the Reichstag a bill calling upon the German Government to notify all foreign states "that the extorted acknowledgement of war guilt in the treaty of Versailles is contrary to historical truth, is based on false premises and is not binding in international law." The Reichstag on November 30 rejected the proposal by a vote of 317 to 82 (Verhandlungen des Reichstags, IV. Wahlperiode 1928, 426, 3374; Anlage nr. 1429, ibid., 438). The party thereupon sought to validate the proposal by a plebiscite, which failed on December 22. Only 13.8 percent of the registered voters voted. Of the 5,828,082 who did vote only 337,320 were recorded as opposed. Nevertheless, the government statement opposing passage of the bill had said: "Every German Government has rejected the unilateral guilt sentence (Schuldspruch) of the treaty of Versailles in formal declarations and with progressive successes has used the available possibilities of setting the world
Note to VIII, 231-Continued
straight concerning the true causes of the war" (Anlage nr. 1429, ibid., 438).
On January 30, 1937 the Chancellor and Führer expressed himself as follows:
"Fourth: Above all I solemnly withdraw the German signature from that declaration which was extracted under duress from a weak Government, acting against its better judgment—namely, the declaration that Germany was responsible for the war."
The Mixed Claims Commission, United States and Germany, in its Administrative Decision No. 2, November 1, 1923 stated:
"Article 231 of the Versailles Treaty at most amounts to no more than an acceptance by Germany of the affirmance by the Allied and Associated Governments of Germany's responsibility for all loss and damage suffered as a consequence of the war-a moral responsibility. Germany's financial responsibility for losses occurring during belligerency is limited and clearly defined in the succeeding Article and the Annex pertaining thereto and other provisions of the Treaty."
The joint liability resulting from "the responsibility of Germany and her Allies" was apportioned by articles 1 and 2 of the Spa agreement of July 16, 1920 (Appendix, p. 851). Receipts from Germany were to be distributed by percentages of the total (see art. 237).
Article 2 of the Spa agreement of July 16, 1920 provided:
"The aggregate amount received under the head of reparation from Austria, Bulgaria and Hungary, together with the sums received from Italy, the Czecho-Slovak State, Roumania and the Serb-CroatSlovene State under the agreements made on September 10 and December 8, 1919, shall be divided as follows:
"(a) One-half shall be divided between the Allied Governments mentioned in article 1 in the proportion fixed by the said article.
"(b) Of the other half, Italy shall receive 40 per cent., and 60 per cent. is reserved for Greece, Roumania, the Serb-CroatSlovene State, and for other Powers entitled to reparation which are not signatories of this agreement."
The report of the Committee of Experts of June 7, 1929 in section 145 states:
Note to VIII, 231—Continued
"The acceptance of this plan necessarily involves the dissolution of the joint liability of Germany on the one side with Austria, Hungary and Bulgaria on the other side for reparation, and therefore finally abolishes every obligation present or future in either direction which may result between these powers from this joint liability."
Article I of the agreement with Germany of January 20, 1930 (104 League of Nations Treaty Series, p. 243) provides that the report of June 7, 1929, the agreement itself, and the transitional protocol of August 31, 1929, all of which constituted the New Plan, were "definitely accepted as a complete and final settlement, so far as Germany is concerned, of the financial questions resulting from the War."
It remained to cancel the joint liability of Austria, Bulgaria, and Hungary with Germany under the articles of their treaties of peace identic with article 231 of the treaty with Germany. Agreements of January 20, 1930 with each of the three, one with Czechoslovakia, and one relating to the liberation debt (ceded properties) of Austria, Bulgaria, and Hungary, effected the desired cancelation.
Liberation debt. An international agreement relating to the liberation debt between Belgium, the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the Union of South Africa, India, France, Greece, Italy, Japan, Poland, Portugal, Czechoslovakia, Rumania, and Yugoslavia was signed at The Hague on January 20, 1930 and all ratifications were deposited on May 11, 1932 (United Kingdom, Treaty Series No. 25 (1932), Cmd. 4146). This agreement was a final and complete discharge of the liabilities of the signatories which were debtors in respect of properties ceded in virtue of the treaties of peace with Austria, Bulgaria, and Hungary and of liberation debts arising out of the agreements of September 10 and December 8, 1919 (see part II, Nos. 5 and 6). The 10,000,000 gold marks annuity payable by Czechoslovakia was to be distributed as follows:
Note to VIII, 231—Continued
Yugoslavia was to receive the net payments currently due from Hungary and Greece, the liquid assets in hand from the Bulgarian account, plus 5,000,000 gold francs paid on April 1, 1930. After these adjustments Bulgarian and Hungarian payments were to be distributed up to 1943 as follows: Greece, 76.73 percent; Rumania, 13 percent; Czechoslovakia, 1 percent; Yugoslavia, 5 percent (Bulgarian) and 2 percent (Hungarian); other Spa agreement creditors, 4.27 percent (Bulgarian) and 7.27 percent (Hungarian).
Austria. The agreement between Austria, Belgium, Great Britain, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the Union of South Africa, India, France, Greece, Italy, Japan, Poland, Portugal, Rumania, Czechoslovakia, and Yugoslavia, which entered into force June 28, 1930 (104 League of Nations Treaty Series, p. 413), finally discharged all Austrian financial obligations arising under the armistice or the treaty of peace by reason of the payments, deliveries, and cessions made after that date, subject to the execution of any arrangements then in force.
The first charge on Austrian assets and revenues created by article 197 of the treaty of peace (German art. 248) ceased to be operative. Relations with the Reparation Commission terminated and all outstanding claims and counterclaims were reciprocally waived.
Bulgaria. The agreement between Bulgaria and the same states entered into force December 27, 1930 (112 League of Nations Treaty Series, p. 361). Creditors waived payments under tranche B of the agreement of March 21, 1923 (117 British and Foreign State Papers, p. 534). The United Kingdom, France, and Italy, the creditor parties to that agreement, waived outstanding claims for armies of occupation costs. Tranche A of the 1923 agreement called for payments of 2,255,766,800 gold francs from October 1, 1923 to April 1, 1983, of which some 56,000,000 gold francs had been paid according to schedule. Tranche A of the 1923 agreement was superseded by a Schedule of Payments requiring total service of 420,200,000 gold francs in graduated annuities from April 1, 1930 to March 31, 1966 (see table, p. 412). Claims of various kinds under the treaty of peace were waived or canceled. The trust agreement between the Bank for International Settlements and the creditor governments came into force on April 28, 1931. A protocol of January 21, 1932 (United Kingdom, Bulgaria No. 1 (1932), Cmd. 4071) caused the payments from the instalment due on September 30, 1931 to be reserved under the Hoover moratorium; further, part III of the Lausanne agreement of July 7, 1932 recommended setting up a
Note to VIII, 231—Continued
committee to bring "non-German reparations" and cognate questions into a general settlement. Pending the work of the committee for such a settlement, execution of payments was reserved until December 15, 1932 and by successive extensions until June 15, 1936. Hungary. Hungarian reparation in 1930 was being met within the terms of decision 2797, February 21, 1924, of the Reparation Commission which (1) excepted specified assets in view of the Hungarian reconstruction loan of 250,000,000 gold crowns issued under League of Nations auspices in virtue of the protocols of March 24, 1924 (25 League of Nations Treaty Series, pp. 423, 427) and (2) laid down the charges under article 180 of the treaty of peace for 20 years. According to this schedule Hungary made payments equivalent to 880 tons of coal per working day for 1924– 26 and annual payments thereafter beginning at 5,000,000 gold crowns in 1927 and scaling up to 14,000,000 for 1942 and 1943, a total of 179,000,000 gold crowns. The sum due in 1930 was 7,000,000 gold crowns (League of Nations, The Financial Reconstruction of Hungary, doc. C.583.M221.1926,II.54, p. 197).
Hungarian payments under this decision of the Reparation Commission were credited as follows by a procès-verbal fixing the final accounts agreed to on March 5, 1930 (Annex 4075B; file 464.00 R 29/93):
The four "inseparably connected" agreements between Hungary and the same 16 creditor states were initialed at The Hague on January 20, 1930, signed at Paris on April 28, 1930, and entered into force April 9, 1931 (121 League of Nations Treaty Series, p. 69). Except for obligations in respect of pre-war public debts, judgments by the Mixed Arbitral Tribunals, and article 186 of the treaty of peace, the annuities were to be a "complete and final settlement of the charges incumbent" on Hungary, which waived any claims it might have. The annuities varied in 1930-43 but were constant