1931, Banking power, German power, and the Euro

I recently came across the following:

"Julius Curtius was Foreign Minister of Germany from October, 1929 to October 1931. Curtius was a member of the national-liberal German People's Party and worked closely with Heinrich Brüning to revise the Treaty of Versailles in Germany's favor.

His notable achievement as Foreign Minister was in negotiating a customs union with Austria in March 1931, but opposition from France scuttled the proposed union. To halt the union, the French withdrew a number of short loans they had made to Austria; the withdrawal of the French loans helped to cause the collapse of Austria's largest bank in May 1931, which in its turn set a series of banking collapses all over Central Europe in the summer of 1931.

Curtius was intimately involved in the negotiations that led to the issuing of the Hoover Moratorium by the U.S President Herbert Hoover that halted war reparations payments by Germany in June 1931 as part of the effort to limit the financial fall-out of the banking collapse."

To be honest, I had never heard of Julius Curtius. Nor had I heard of France's attempt to scuttle an economic union between Germany and Austria in 1931. However, if France's actions triggered the new round of economic turmoil in Central Europe, then France's actions were undoubtedly also related to the outcome of the German federal elections some 12 months later, when the Communists and National Socialists, two anti-system parties, became the two most popular parties in Germany and ran away with more than fifty percent of the popular vote.

For eighty years now, "historians" have ignored facts such as these and instead produced abusive critiques of the German culture which, to them, is the "culture that produced National Socialism"; millions have probed the German psyche ad nauseam and condemned the descendants of "the nation that could vote for Hitler". Why do people invest in such nonsense?

It's obvious why Germany chose Hitler; Hitler promised to end foreign economic terrorism against Germany and restore prosperity - what sovereign country cannot even decide with whom it wishes to form a customs union? Who can blame the Germans for choosing Hitler when he was the one to position himself against the international elite who had decided not to allow such agreements?

For instance, the Permanent Court of International Justice - which included French Judge Henri Auguste Fromageot - ruled that a "free trade customs union between the two German-speaking states [...] was incompatible with the 1919 Peace Treaties (coupled with a subsequent protocol of 1922) pledging Austria to take no action to compromise its independence." (International Law, Shaw, p. 211)

France's actions make sense, too - and not just in view of the revanchistic spirit of the 1919 Peace Treaties. In France and other parts of Europe, there was a powerful clique that did not want a strong Germany. Consider the following quotes:

  • Should Germany merchandise again in the next 50 years, we have led this [last] war in vain." - Winston Churchill in The Times (1919)

  • "Germany becomes too powerful. We have to crush it." - Winston Churchill (November 1936 speaking to US - General Robert E. Wood)

  • "This war is an English war and its goal is the destruction of Germany." - Winston Churchill (- Autumn 1939 broadcast)

  • "The war wasn’t only about abolishing fascism (read: state-funding corporatism, where German businesses serve German state interests perhaps at Britain's expense), but to conquer sales markets. We could have, if we had intended so, prevented this war from breaking out without doing one shot, but we didn’t want to." - Winston Churchill to Truman (Fultun, USA in March 1946)

  • "Germany’s unforgivable crime before WW2 was its attempt to loosen its economy out of the world trade system and to build up an independent exchange system from which the world-finance couldn’t profit anymore." -Winston Churchill (The Second World War - Bern, 1960)

  • "We made a monster, a devil out of Hitler. Therefore we couldn’t disavow it after the war. After all, we mobilized the masses against the devil himself. So we were forced to play our part in this diabolic scenario after the war. In no way we could have pointed out to our people that the war only was an economic preventive measure." - US foreign minister James Baker (1992)

  • "Not the political doctrine of Hitler has hurled us into this war. The reason was the success of his increase in building a new economy. The roots of war were envy, greed and fear." - Major General J.F.C. Fuller, historian, England

  • "The enemy is the German Reich and not Nazism, and those who still haven’t understood this, haven’t understood anything." – Churchill’s chief counselor Robert Lord Vansittart (as said to foreign minister Lord Halifax, September 1940)

  • "We didn’t go to war in 1939 to save Germany from Hitler...or the continent from fascism. Like in 1914, we went to war for the not lesser noble cause that we couldn’t accept a German hegemony over Europe." - Sunday Correspondent, London (17.9.1989)

  • "You must understand that this war is not against Hitler or National Socialism, but against the strength of the German people, which is to be smashed once and for all, regardless of whether it is in the hands of Hitler or a Jesuit priest." - Winston Churchill (quoted by Emrys Hughes in Winston Churchill - His Career in War and Peace, page 145)

As these examples show, the anti-German contingent in the United Kingdom and France was determined to stop Germany from becoming an economic leader, even if that meant triggering crises to dissuade Austria from entering a trade agreement with Germany. But the German people would not allow foreign economic decisions to keep them in chains, so they chose Hitler, a tenacious politician who was determined to not only create a German-Austrian customs union, but integrate his native Austria into Germany and do the same with other, German-settled regions of Europe - much to the dismay of those who wanted a weak Germany.

Of course, the United Kingdom and France only went to war with Germany after Germany had sent its military into Poland vis-a-vis the collapse of negotiations for the German peoples in Danzig and in Poland. Furthermore, in going to war with Germany, the UK and France had merely honored their alliances with Poland. However, as Churchill explained to U.S. President Harry S. Truman in 1946, the UK had done very little to encourage a peaceful resolution in the Baltic prior to Hitler's decision to invade Poland. Also, the UK and France had begun rearmament as early as 1936 and, after Germany had won the engagement against Poland in 1939, the governments of the UK and France did not look for a peaceful resolution to their war with Germany. Instead, both countries began preparing for more war and importing war materials from the United States en masse. In the UK, propaganda was distributed to show "Nazi war aims", which tells us more about what the UK feared than what Germany wanted:
Consider the following:

  • Poland fell to Germany on 6 October 1939; in March 1940, the Germans intercepted a message that the UK planned to invade Norway as part of a general strategy to slowly encircle Germany and cut it off from its trading partners. However, the UK postponed the invasion of Norway until April.

  • In April, the UK began to lay mines in Norway's neutral waters. This time, the goal was to draw Germany into a conflict, instigate an engagement at sea and use the situation as a cover to invade Norway in an operation called "Plan R 4". However, just as the first mines were being laid, the Germans caught word of the plan, landed in Norway and took hold of the Norwegian ports.

  • On 10 May 1940, Winston Churchill became the Prime Minister and Minister of Defense in the UK. That same day, the German military advanced into the Low Countries en route to France, and the French and UK forces advanced into the Low Countries to engage the Germans. The next day, the UK began a bombing raid offensive across Germany. The German city of Kiel was hit and, in the coming days, industrial and railway targets in Cologne (11 May) were targeted. Attacks on Mönchengladbach (11 May), Gelsenkirschen (14 May), Bremen (18 May) and Hamburg (18 May) followed. The Hamburg raid resulted in 106 casualties, including 34 deaths. In the assault on Hamburg, the British used firebombing for the first time: 400 incendiary bombs, or fire bombs, were dropped, as well as 80 regular, non-incendiary explosives.

  • The German military drove the French and UK forces back into France and pushed them back to the coast. But the Germans did not pursue, and thereby allowed the British troops to be evacuated back to the UK. Churchill was not happy. "Wars are not won by evacuations," he declared. (Robert D. Heinl, Jr., Naval Quotations, p. 107.) Churchill also demanded that the rescue fleet pick up what remained of the French army and bring it to the UK so it could be used in continued military operations against Germany.

  • On 22 June 1940, France and Germany signed an armistice and the fighting between the two countries came to an end. The French promised the UK that they would not turn over their High Seas Fleet to the Germans. Likewise, the Germans declared that they would make no demands for France's navy. Nonetheless, on the 3rd of July, forces from the UK attacked the French fleet at Mers-el-Kébir, killing 1,297 - just to be certain that the ships would not end up in German hands. The new, German-friendly collaborationist government in France was infuriated by these events and cut off diplomatic relations with the UK.

  • On the same day that the UK attacked the French fleet, the UK bombed the German city of Hamm, targeting train facilities; the night before, the UK had bombed German warships in Kiel.

In August 1940, Germany began its own air war campaign; however, as per Hitler's No. 17 Directive, "terror raids" were prohibited. Hitler even made several speeches in the German parliamentary building, the Reichstag, where he challenged Churchill to negotiate a peace. But the war continued. Meanwhile, Germany's ally, Italy, invaded Greece. Italy also invaded Egypt and took on the British Empire forces there. The Italian campaigns were failures, and the Italian army soon called upon the Germans for help. With Germany's assistance, by mid-1941, Italy's struggle for Greece was won, in spite of intervention by the forces of the British Empire. In Africa, the Germans had pushed the British Empire forces back across the desert sands into Egypt.

By 1941, the UK had declared bankruptcy and become completely reliant on loans from the United States to wage war. Yet Germany still received no peace offer from Churchill, even though it was clear that, if the UK's bad fortunes continued, the United Kingdom would be in no condition to even retain its colonial empire after the war. Hitler failed to understand why the UK would risk destroying itself simply to attempt to destroy German power; after all, a strong Germany in central Europe did not necessarily compromise the power of UK's naval empire, or its resources throughout the British colonies. Ultimately, Hitler concluded that the UK was dominated by Jews who had hijacked the will of the British nation, at Britain's expense, to achieve Germany's destruction because Europe under Hitler would mark an end to Jewish freedom and affluence there. This implication is repeated in nearly every account tying Hitler to the planning of the Holocaust:
"Today I will once more be a prophet: If the international Jewish financiers in and outside Europe should succeed in plunging the nations once more into a world war, then the result will not be the Bolshevization of the earth, and thus the victory of Jewry, but the annihilation of the Jewish race in Europe!"

- Adolf Hitler, 1939

"As for the Jews, well, I can tell you quite frankly that one way or another we have to put an end to them. The Führer once put it this way: if the combined forces of Judaism should again succeed in unleashing a world war, that would mean the end of the Jews in Europe. ...I urge you: Stand together with me ... on this idea at least: Save your sympathy for the German people alone. Don't waste it on anyone else in the world, ... I would therefore be guided by the basic expectation that they are going to disappear. They have to be gotten rid of. At present I am involved in discussions aimed at having them moved away to the east. In January there is going to be an important meeting in Berlin to discuss this question. I am going to send State Secretary Dr. Buhler to this meeting [...]"

- Hans Frank, 1941

"Regarding the Jewish Question, the Führer is determined to clear the table. He warned the Jews that if they were to cause another world war, it would lead to their own destruction. Those were not empty words. Now the world war has come. The destruction of the Jews must be its necessary consequence. We cannot be sentimental about it. It is not for us to feel sympathy for the Jews. We should have sympathy rather with our own German people. If the German people have to sacrifice 160,000 victims in yet another campaign in the east, then those responsible for this bloody conflict will have to pay for it with their lives."

- Joseph Goebbels, 1941

"None of the Führer's prophetic words has come so inevitably true as his prediction that if Jewry succeeded in provoking a second world war, the result would be not the destruction of the Aryan race, but rather the wiping out of the Jewish race. This process is of vast importance, and will have unforeseeable consequences that will require time. But it can no longer be halted. It must only be guided in the right direction."

- Joseph Goebbels, 1941

In 1941, Hitler made an ill-fated decision to invade the Soviet Union and seize control of its resources and sheer might which he thought would help end the war. Meanwhile, the British Empire forces continued to fight Germany in Egypt and conduct bombing campaigns across the German heartland, which left Germany in ruins. Combined with military failure in the Soviet Union, Germany was driven into the ground and reduced to rubble. However, Germany has slowly returned to health. Its economic prowess is back, and now Europe has wrapped itself around this power in order to survive the 21st century. In fact, Germany seems to be the only thing keeping the European Union alive. Have a look at the following chart from 2008, which shows who pays into the European Union (in red) and who is a recipient of EU funding (blue).

The following chart is more recent (2010), and shows who pays into the European Union (red) and who is the recipient of EU funding (this time, in green). Yellow indicates the cost per person per country:

So, if the effort to keep Germany weak in 1931 only led to Hitler's rise to power, a war to control continental Europe and mass death and destruction, since a powerful Germany is now the only thing keeping Europe alive...was the effort to keep Germany weak worth it?