London Conference (1921)

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The London Conference 1921 is the name given to two historical conferences that took place from March 1 to 7 (canceled without result) and from April 29 to May 5, 1921 , dealing with compensation payments from the German Reich as a result of the lost First World War .


The Versailles Treaty of 1919 stipulated Germany's obligation to pay for all war damage incurred, but did not specify any amount. At a meeting of the Allied Supreme War Council in Paris in January 1921, the Allies gave the first total amount: They demanded 226 billion gold marks , payable in 42 annual installments, increasing from 2 to 6 billion annually, plus twelve percent of the value of German exports during this period. When this demand became known, a storm of indignation swept through Germany. Foreign Minister Walter Simons accused the victorious powers of disregarding Germany's economic sovereignty in a speech to the Reichstag on February 1 . By not consulting the government of the Reich, they themselves would have violated the Treaty of Versailles. Germany can only make proposals within the framework of its limited solvency.

In London, Simons then put forward the German counter-proposal: payment of 30 billion gold marks in addition to the 20 billion already paid, a total of 50 billion for reparations. After this proposal was rejected, the cities of Dusseldorf , Duisburg and Ruhrort in the Ruhr area were occupied by Allied troops from March 8th. In addition, the Allied demands triggered a domestic political crisis. The KPD tried to take advantage of the situation for a new revolution ( March fights in Central Germany and Hamburg ). A little later another uprising broke out in Upper Silesia .

In April, the DVP withdrew from the Fehrenbach government because of the reparations issue , which announced the imminent overthrow of the government; this took place on May 4th.

London ultimatum

Great Britain, France, Italy, Belgium and Japan set in the London ultimatum on May 5 the capital that Germany had to repay and pay interest at 132 billion gold marks. The sum was divided into three groups: the A, the B and the C bonds . The latter made up the largest part of the German reparation debt, namely 82 billion gold marks. They should only become due when the German Reich was sufficiently solvent - so maybe never. The British economist John Maynard Keynes expected that the C-bonds would be canceled soon. They only served to make the reparation amount appear larger to the outside world and thus to facilitate the approval of the French National Assembly.

Germany had to accept the so-called London payment plan - under threat of full military occupation of the Ruhr area - within a few days. Conference participants on the Allied side included Ferdinand Foch , David Lloyd George and Aristide Briand . On May 11, 1921, at the request of the new Wirth government , the Reichstag approved this demand.


Since the German government was still unable to pay the required installments and had only bowed to pressure from the Allies, it pressed for another conference on the reparations question. This led to the Cannes Conference in January 1922 and the Genoa "World Economic Conference" in the spring of 1922.

The permanent occupation of the Ruhr came about in January 1923 after Germany defaulted on the delivery of the "benefits in kind" that had been agreed in the meantime.

The adoption of the payment plan resulted in a surge in inflation in Germany . It also strengthened the radical political forces that opposed the so-called compliance policy .


Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Bruce Kent: The Spoils of War. The Politics, Economics, and Diplomacy of Reparations 1918–1932. Clarendon, Oxford 1989, p. 123.
  2. ^ Peter Krüger : The foreign policy of the republic of Weimar . Scientific Book Society, Darmstadt 1985, p. 122.
  3. Bruce Kent: The Spoils of War. The Politics, Economics, and Diplomacy of Reparations 1918–1932. Clarendon, Oxford 1989, p. 123.
  4. ^ Sally Marks: Reparations Reconsidered. A reminder. In: Central European History 2, Heft 4 (1969), p. 361; Bruce Kent: The Spoils of War. The Politics, Economics, and Diplomacy of Reparations 1918–1932. Clarendon, Oxford 1989, pp. 134 f.