Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Greece, Reparations and the Marshall Plan

In the summer of 1930....the best description of the German economy was "failure".  Unemployment was surging and business operations were stalled.  Banks were generally on the edge of failure. The public perception for the September election in 1930....was to garner support for the Nazi Party.  They would pick up around eighteen percent of the national vote.....mostly as a protest-type vote and in hopes of a recovery for the economy.

By the summer of 1932, the Nazi Party had established enough clout to control national politics in Germany.  With the economy still in a marginal status....the plan head involved two massive areas of public expenditures (for the military industry and for the national infrastructure....roads, state buildings and bridges).  For the finance office to cover the growing debt....they used revenue taxes and a new gimmick of a national "I-O-U" allotment (Mefo bills, as they are commonly referred to).

The sell to the public from 1932 on....was that socialism was the general solution to the public problems with the economy.  Unemployment did gradually resolve itself.....mostly because of public projects and the military industry.  So, in the minds of most....the Nazi Party was delivering on their promise.

Somewhere in the mix by 1936....exports from Germany going out had declined by roughly ten-percent.  Imports had climbed approximately ten-percent.  You can guess the general effect on was dragging Germany down.

Rationing arrived in 1939, as Germany was marching across various neighbor countries.  If it hadn't been for the military situation.....most of the public would have asked why rationing was necessary and if there wasn't more to the economic woes than publicly stated by the government.

In the spring of 1941....both Germany and Italy arrived in Greece.  Some Greeks may try to deny Italian involvement.....but the Italians were there as well.  In fact, the original invasion of Greece was around October of 1940.....six months prior....where the Italians found the Greeks capable of defending against a marginal Italian force.  With the Germans assisting....there were no issues.

Military-wise.....roughly forty thousand within the region of Athens died of starvation, and somewhere in the range of another fifty thousand Greeks died in conflict with the Italians or Germans.

Somewhere in the middle of this invasion....the Germans arrive to the Greek National Bank and want a loan.  Oddly, this is written out, with zero-percent interest on the document, and Germans walk away with the bulk of the bank's money.  It should be noted.....this was not robbery....documentation exists and the amount agreed upon.

When the Greeks today talk of the loan, it's a factual piece of information.  You can sum the loan up to around eleven billion Euro in today's money.....with zero-percent interest figured into the scheme.

When the war finished, Germany and Japan were both finished off economically.  American historians went back and reviewed the lessons learned from WW I.  The Germans had huge reparations owed to England and France.  It unsettled the recovery of Germans from the election period of 1930.  Fascism grew out of the reparation story.  In order to prevent that.....the US enacted what would be called the Marshall Plan.  If anyone in Europe had a reparations angle....they'd come to the US and avoid engaging Germany into another mess.  The US....would pay for everyone's reparations.

I's hard to believe and no one really talks about this angle to the Marshall Plan....but it was about preventing WW III or the recovery of the German fascism agenda.  Between this.....the division of Germany, and the US troops staying in Germany....things would be ironed out and prevent something stupid from happening.

What did the Greeks get from the Marshall Plan?  Roughly 3.5 billion dollars between 1947 and 1951 (in today's dollars).  Did the Greeks of 1947 understand this deal?  Yes.  Are these gentlemen all dead today?  Yes.  Do any of the political figures of Greece today grasp the Marshall Plan?  It's difficult to say if any of the top twenty Greek leaders can give a simple eight-line explanation to the Marshall Plan and it's effect on the Greek economy.

Around 1960, the German government came back and offered a settlement on each Greek killed and damages caused.  The Greeks accepted that deal.  Do any of the Greek leaders remember that arrangement?  Probably not.  Did any of the victim money go to actual families in Greece?  Probably not.

Did any Communist country in Europe get Marshall  Plan funding?  No...that was a key feature of the Soviet monopoly over eastern Europe.

One of the odd features of the German recovery after WW I (if you even desire to refer to it as a "recovery")....was by 1925......Germany had gone on a turbo 'binge' of borrowing money.  They were deep into debt within a few years.  This was all done because the government was stuck with an economy that was stalled and unable to recover.  Flooding the market with borrowed money, they gave the public and business the impression of a full recovery in process.....WHEN it wasn't recovering.

In some ways....Greece since 2008 has done the exact same thing as Germany after WW I.  Greece might have been already walking in the borrowed money scheme back twenty and thirty years ago.....but since 2008.....they've gone to various levels beyond anything that the Germans schemed up in 1925.

The reparations game here?  What happened after the Trojan War (1194 BC)?  What happened after the Greece-Punic War in 600 BC?  What happened after the Greece-Persia War (499 BC)?  What happened in the Social War of 357 AD?  What happened in 334 with Alexander the Great and his Greek Army invading various neighbors?  What happened in the Greek Civil Wars of 1823 (phase one and phase two)?   The sad truth is that Greece has had over sixty various wars or campaigns over the past four-thousand years.  Greece ought to be paying for reparations of various wars to their neighbors, if they take this reparations game serious.

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