These factors have already reduced Germany’s annual surplus to less than the $500,000,000 at which we arrived on other grounds as the maximum of her annual payments. But even if the rejoinder be made, that we have not yet allowed for the lowering of the standard of life and comfort in Germany which may reasonably be imposed on a defeated enemy, there is still a fundamental fallacy in the method of calculation. An annual surplus available for home investment can only be converted into a surplus available for export abroad by a radical change in the kind of work performed. Labor, while it may be available and efficient for domestic services in Germany, may yet be able to find no outlet in foreign trade. We are back on the same question which faced us in our examination of the export trade—in what export trade is German labor going to find a greatly increased outlet? Labor can only he diverted into new channels with loss of efficiency, and a large expenditure of capital. The annual surplus which German labor can produce for capital improvements at home is no measure, either theoretically or practically, of the annual tribute which she can pay abroad.
This body is so remarkable a construction and may, if it functions at all, exert so wide an influence on the life of Europe, that its attributes deserve a separate examination.
There are no precedents for the indemnity imposed on Germany under the present Treaty; for the money exactions which formed part of the settlement after previous wars have differed in two fundamental respects from this one. The sum demanded has been determinate and has been measured in a lump sum of money; and so long as the defeated party was meeting the annual instalments of cash no consequential interference was necessary.
But for reasons already elucidated, the exactions in this case are not yet determinate, and the sum when fixed will prove in excess of what can be paid in cash and in excess also of what can be paid at all. It was necessary, therefore, to set up a body to establish the bill of claim, to fix the mode of payment, and to approve necessary abatements and delays. It was only possible to place this body in a position to exact the utmost year by year by giving it wide powers over the internal economic life of the enemy countries, who are to be treated henceforward as bankrupt estates to be administered by and for the benefit of the creditors. In fact, however, its powers and functions have been enlarged even beyond what was required for this purpose, and the Reparation Commission has been established as the final arbiter on numerous economic and financial issues which it was convenient to leave unsettled in the Treaty itself.
The powers and constitution of the Reparation Commission are mainly laid down in Articles 233-241 and Annex II. of the Reparation Chapter of the Treaty with Germany. But the same Commission is to exercise authority over Austria and Bulgaria, and possibly over Hungary and Turkey, when Peace is made with these countries. There are, therefore, analogous articles mutatis mudandis in the Austrian Treaty and in the Bulgarian Treaty.