Karl Radek


Reparations Hubbub

(5 September 1922)

From International Press Correspondence, Vol. 2 No. 76, 5 September 1922, pp. 567–568.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.
Public Domain: Marxists Internet Archive (2020). You may freely copy, distribute, display and perform this work; as well as make derivative and commercial works. Please credit “Marxists Internet Archive” as your source.

A week age the dollar stood at 2,000 marks. The German Government was seized with the greatest panic. The trade union fakirs who up to now had bound themselves to the Versailles Peace, telegraphed appeals to the leaders of the Amsterdam Union, to come to Berlin in order to stand by them in their misery. Mr. Jouhaux was to mount his battle steed and take up the fight with Poincaré over the German reparations question, although it had never occurred to him to give the signal for combat to the French workers in a similar difficult situation.

The Amsterdam Union, which but a few weeks ago expressed its solidarity with the striking American coal miners by the absurd means of sending them £10,000, now takes up the role of the saviour of Germany. At the same time, the German Prime Minister declared that they must first have bread for the people before they could think of paying the reparations. A noble declaration! But neither this declaration nor any other diplomatic statement corresponds to the truth.

The German Government uses every possible means in order to avoid a breach with the Entente, but above all with trance. The English and French representatives of the Reparations Commission, Bradbury and Mauclaire demanded, as guarantees from the German Government, the mines and forests of the Ruhr district. The German Government refused this demand, for if it has to give such a pledge for the moratorium, what would it have to give in order to obtain credits without which there would hot be the least sense in the moratorium. The German Government therefore proposed another combination. They offered 50 million gold marks as a guarantee for the punctual fulfillment of the obligation to deliver coal and timber. The representatives of the Reparations Commission declined this offer, but behind the scenes further negotiations are taking place, which, as far as can be seen, are tending in two directions. Two new mediators entered upon the scene of negotiations: on the one side, the German iron and steel industry, on the other, certain American financial circles.

Upon what concrete matters Mr. Stinnes will negotiate with the French industrial interests is as yet unknown. But that he is negotiating with them is to be noticed from the tone of-the article by Paul Lensch in the Deutsche Allgemeine Zeitung, the leading organ of the Stinnes press.

Lensch, who up till now has written with regard to France in the most aggressive nationalist tone, now speaks in a practical business language with regard to the conditions of an agreement between the iron and steel industry and France. He declares such an agreement to be possible if France would only deal with the German industrials on a basis of equality and not as with a vanquished party. The provincial press of the German iron and steel industry, takes up this strain and declares that if the agreement will not be advantageous for both parties, German industry has no ground for entering into these negotiations.

The Paris correspondent of the Neue Züricher Zeitung, who is to be regarded at present as the herald of the French Ministry for Foreign Affairs, slightly raises the curtain before the scene of these events. He thereby indicates that the intentions of M. Poincaré in essence coincide with those of Herr Stinnes. The uniting of the Ruhr coal with the Lorraine mineral ore would serve as the basis for a new arrangement of the reparations question, as well as of the plan for new German finance reforms, which by the raising of indirect taxes would benefit not only Poincaré but also Stinnes. The reason why Mr. Stinnes cannot carry out his finance plans is, that the government “over the masses”, counts with the working masses. But what Stinnes is not in a position to do alone, he can do with Poincaré.

Another plan whose vague outline is beginning to reveal itself in the French press, runs as follows:

If England would withdraw her demands against France, then France would renounce her claims for the 80 billions on the so-called Z Bonds of the German reparations debt. These bonds are only a scrap of paper, as the London Treaty of May 5th, 1921, has not determined when they are to be paid. In this manner the German indebtedness would amount to 52 billion gold marks, for the payment of which American financial concerns would grant a credit. In consequence of this credit, the financial control which shall guarantee the payment of the debts would pass into the hands of the Americans. And as the American uncle has a kind heart and does not intend to send black soldiers to Berlin, the German Michael could thus live happily under the financial rule of America

All these rumours awaken new hopes in Germany. The mark recovered a little, the government changed its underwear and will for some days or some weeks, until the next crisis comes, again rule over the country. In the meanwhile, it will send out heart-rending letters to all sides, calling for assistance, and with protestations of its innocence. But the position of the working class is getting worse every day, and history cannot be deceived by sleight-of-hand tricks.

On his return from Cannes, Rathenau declared that after his speech the atmosphere between the Allies and Germany cleared up as it thirty years had already passed since the war. And at that time the dollar stood at 275. That was an illusion of Spring. Today the mark is dancing. At one time it reaches 2,000; sometimes it rises to 1,300; but it can also fall to 8,000. The present day illusion of the German Government is not only an Autumn illusion, an old wives’ Summer, it is the illusion of one sentenced to death, whose execution has been postponed for 24 hours.

Last updated on 3 September 2020