World War I Reparations - Reasons For The Size of The Reparations Demands

Reasons For The Size of The Reparations Demands

In many ways, the Versailles reparations were a reply to the reparations placed upon France by Germany through the 1871 Treaty of Frankfurt, signed after the Franco-Prussian War. Indemnities of the Treaty of Frankfurt were in turn calculated, on the basis of population, as the precise equivalent of the indemnities demanded by Napoleon after the defeat of Prussia.

Infrastructure damage caused by the retreating German troops was also cited. In her book, Peacemakers: The Paris Peace Conference of 1919 and Its Attempt to End War, Margaret MacMillan described the significance of the claims for French and Belgium: "From the start, France and Belgium argued that claims for direct damage should receive priority in any distribution of reparations. In the heavily industrialized north of France, the Germans had shipped out what they wanted for their own use and destroyed much of the rest. Even as German forces were retreating in 1918, they found time to blow up France's most important coal mine".

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