First World War Officially Ends

It will all be over by Christmas. In fact, it was all over on Sunday.

For on 3 October, Germany finally closed the book on the First World War by paying off the last of its 91-year-old debt to the Allies.

Reparations were demanded by Britain, France and Belgium as part of the 1919 Treaty of Versailles. The original sum of 269 billion gold marks was later reduced to 112 billion, but even so, this was a figure of unimaginable magnitude.

The bill for the First World War crippled the German economy, prompting hyper-inflation, mass unemployment, bankruptcy and economic depression across the Weimar Republic. Prices of everyday goods such as bread soared, as hard currency became worth less and less. Many historians believe that Hitler was able to manipulate the discontent and anger at the economic situation in order to take power. He suspended payments in 1933, and it was not until 1953 that they were re-started – although only by West Germany.

A German budget report shows that a payment of £59.5 million will be made on Sunday. It is a fitting time for the war debt to be settled, as 3 October also marks the 20th anniversary of the reunification of the former East and West Germany.

Most of the money will go to pension funds, companies and private citizens who have bonds agreed under the terms of the Treaty of Versailles.

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