A technicality regarding the debt to be handled in the aftermath of World War I is finally resolved, meaning the war is finally officially and unofficially over. The technicality, while purely a financial one was the last order of business to be handled from the treaty of Versailles was signed 90 years ago. And now it is finally paid in full.
The technicality was that Germany would pay a sum of money equivalent to $22 billion dollars at the time. In today’s money, this debt would have been an incredible sum, but at the time and with Germany’s failing economy it was even more insurmountable. In the time it took for the German government to pay off its debt from the war, however, the United States still carries with it an incredible amount of debt left over from the world war as well as the numerous wars that would follow. Fortunately, however, the final payment of some $22 million will finally abolish the debt and allow the final chapter of the war to come to a close.
It may come as a surprise to millions that the German debt would vanish so slowly, but during World War II the payments ceased with the rise of Hitler to power. According to many historians, the horrors of World War II came as a result of the crushing debt the German economy incurred as a result of their terms of surrender. And while this payment may seem like nothing in today’s dollars, it was quite crippling in the world of 1918. It would have been the equivalent, in today’s US dollars to be approximately $408 billion.
But to whom is this money going? Private investors who initially bought the bonds for the German debt are actually going to be the ones to receive these historic dollars, making these investors the last involved in World War I’s war effort.
Of course this technicality comes several years after the first world war ended, even after the final business from the even bloodier World War II was settled. Of course as there are only three surviving confirmed veterans of World War I, the end to this debt will bear even greater significance for them. From the United Kingdom both Claude Stanley Choules and Florence Beatrice Green have survived, both having by now reached the age of 109 while Frank Woodruff Buckles of the United States is also still living and also aged at 109 years.
With this debt settled, the world is given yet another opportunity to reflect on the past and have time to heal from the intense losses, continuing to bring the rift that once tore the world apart ever closer to an end. And as humanity steps past this first war to end all wars, it has another opportunity to take a long cold look into its own soul and attempt to bring forth a lasting peace that will follow humanity into antiquity as we reach for the stars and a future without bloodshed.