|German Peace Delegation
Versailles, May 13, 1919
To His Excellency Mr. Clemenceau:
In accordance with my
communication of May 9th of this year, I have the honour to present to
your Excellency the report of the Economic Commission charged with the
study of the effect of the Peace Terms on the situation of the German
"During the last two
generations, Germany has been transformed from an agricultural state to
an industrial state. While an agricultural state, Germany could nourish
forty million inhabitants.
As an industrial State, it can
assure the nourishment of a population of sixty-seven million. In 1913,
the importation of goods amounted in round figures to twelve million
tons. Before the war, a total of fifteen million persons found an
existence in Germany by means of foreign commerce and navigation, either
directly, or indirectly, by using our foreign raw materials.
Under the terms of the peace
treaty, Germany is to give up her Merchant Marine and vessels now under
construction suitable for foreign commerce. Likewise, for five years,
German shipyards are to construct primarily a tonnage destined for the
Allied and Associated Governments.
Moreover, Germany must renounce
her Colonies; all her foreign possessions, all her rights and interests
in the Allied and Associated countries, in their Colonies, Dominions or
Protectorates are to be liquidated and credited to the payment of
reparations, and are to be submitted to any other step of economic
warfare that the Allied and Associated Powers may see fit to maintain or
to take during the years of peace.
When the territorial clauses of
the Peace Treaty go into effect Germany will lose in the East the most
important regions for the production of wheat and potatoes, and this
would be equivalent to a loss of twenty-one percent of the total harvest
of these foodstuffs.
Moreover the intensiveness of
our agricultural production would be greatly decreased. On the one hand,
the importation of certain raw materials indispensable for the
production of fertilizer, such as phosphates, would be hampered; on the
other hand, this industry would like all other industries suffer from
the shortage of coal.
For the Peace Treaty provides
for the loss of almost a third of the production of our coal fields; in
addition to that loss, enormous deliveries of coal to various Allied
countries are imposed on us for ten years.
In addition, in conformity to
the Treaty, Germany will cede to her neighbours almost three-quarters of
her ore production and three-fifths of her production of zinc.
After this privation of her
produce, after the economic repression caused by the loss of her
Colonies, of her Merchant Fleet and her foreign possession, Germany will
no longer be in a position to import raw materials in sufficient
quantities from abroad. As a matter of course an enormous part of German
industry would thus be condemned to extinction. At the same time the
need to import commodities would considerably increase, while the
possibility of meeting this need would diminish to the same extent.
After a very short time Germany
would therefore no longer be in a position to furnish bread and work to
her many millions of persons forced to earn their daily bread by
navigation and commerce. These people would have to emigrate; but this
is materially impossible; all the more so, in that many countries, and
the most important ones will oppose German immigration. In addition
hundreds of thousands of Germans expelled from the territories of the
Powers now at war with Germany, and from the Colonies and Territories
which Germany must give up will come back to their native country.
The enforcement of the Peace
Conditions would therefore logically entail the loss of several million
persons in Germany. This catastrophe would not be long in occurring,
since the health of the population has been broken during the war by the
blockade and during the armistice by the increased vigour of the
No assistance, however great
and of however long duration could prevent these wholesale deaths. The
Peace would impose upon Germany many times the number of human lives
cost her by this war of four years and a half, (1,750,000 killed by the
enemy; almost a million as a result of the blockade.)
We do not think and we do not
believe that the delegates of the Allied and Associated Powers are aware
of the consequences that will
inevitably follow, if Germany,
an industrial nation with a very dense population, closely bound up with
the economic system of the world, and obliged to import enormous
quantities of food and raw materials, finds herself suddenly thrown into
a phase of her development corresponding to the period of her economic
construction and the period when her population was the size it was a
half century ago.
Those who sign this treaty,
will sign the death sentence of many millions of German men, women and
I believe that my duty before
beginning the discussion of other details of the treaty, lay in bringing
to the attention of the Allied, and Associated Delegations, this summary
of the problem facing the German people. At your request I hold ready
for your excellency the statistical proof.
Kindly accept, etc.