The Economic Consequences of the Peace eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 239 pages of information about The Economic Consequences of the Peace.

But there are not only the limitations of the phrase in its natural meaning and the emphasis on civilian damages as distinct from military expenditure generally; it must also be remembered that the context of the term is in elucidation of the meaning of the term “restoration” in the President’s Fourteen Points.  The Fourteen Points provide for damage in invaded territory—­Belgium, France, Roumania, Serbia, and Montenegro (Italy being unaccountably omitted)—­but they do not cover losses at sea by submarine, bombardments from the sea (as at Scarborough), or damage done by air raids.  It was to repair these omissions, which involved losses to the life and property of civilians not really distinguishable in kind from those effected in occupied territory, that the Supreme Council of the Allies in Paris proposed to President Wilson their qualifications.  At that time—­the last days of October, 1918—­I do not believe that any responsible statesman had in mind the exaction from Germany of an indemnity for the general costs of the war.  They sought only to make it clear (a point of considerable importance to Great Britain) that reparation for damage done to non-combatants and their property was not limited to invaded territory (as it would have been by the Fourteen Points unqualified), but applied equally to all such damage, whether “by land, by sea, or from the air” It was only at a later stage that a general popular demand for an indemnity, covering the full costs of the war, made it politically desirable to practise dishonesty and to try to discover in the written word what was not there.

What damages, then, can be claimed from the enemy on a strict interpretation of our engagements?[77] In the case of the United Kingdom the bill would cover the following items:—­

(a) Damage to civilian life and property by the acts of an enemy Government including damage by air raids, naval bombardments, submarine warfare, and mines.

(b) Compensation for improper treatment of interned civilians.

It would not include the general costs of the war, or (e.g.) indirect damage due to loss of trade.

The French claim would include, as well as items corresponding to the above:—­

(c) Damage done to the property and persons of civilians in the war area, and by aerial warfare behind the enemy lines.

(d) Compensation for loot of food, raw materials, live-stock, machinery, household effects, timber, and the like by the enemy Governments or their nationals in territory occupied by them.

(e) Repayment of fines and requisitions levied by the enemy Governments or their officers on French municipalities or nationals.

(f) Compensation to French nationals deported or compelled to do forced labor.

In addition to the above there is a further item of more doubtful character, namely—­

(g) The expenses of the Relief Commission in providing necessary food and clothing to maintain the civilian French population in the enemy-occupied districts.

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The Economic Consequences of the Peace from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.