French Essay

993 words - 4 pages

The economic, political and social consequences of the war lasted well into the 1920’s and 1930’s. The French people were in desperate need of a core hope and the government believed the answer would arrive in the form of the Treaty of Versailles executed by world leaders in June 1919. French Prime Minister Georges Clemenceau recognized the visible opportunities provided within the treaty. He wanted to ensure the terms were not specious and void of any finite characteristics capable of solving France’s long term needs. The time was supposed to be a period of peace, yet it was marred with increasing economic woes. Clemenceau demanded Germany pay financial reparations for the destruction caused to the French economy. The bitter rivalry between the two states went deeper than just the previous four years of war. In many ways France wanted pay back for the losses they suffered during the Franco-Prussian War. If the war were fought for any one purpose, it was to regain the lost regions of Alsace and Lorraine. When they were returned to France, close to million people were back in their homeland. This immediate boost in population did little to improve the economic outlook for the country. Much of the French infrastructure was damaged in the war. The war waged in northern France resulted in the destruction of roads, bridges and rail lines. Profitable coal mines, factories, public buildings and homes were destroyed. Millions of acres of farmland were no longer viable. In 1919 levels of agricultural and industrial production were around 45 percent below those of 1913 (Bury, p. 256) This pushed the government closer to campaign to ensure that Germany paid their due.
Germany began making payments to France, primarily with money borrowed from the United States. Reparations were not enough as Clemenceau was determined to cast Germany as the evil “other”, causing further tension between the two rivals. The early 1920’s was marked with a series of fiscal crises only to further the post-war economic instability. The Radicals and conservative republicans refused to accept any new taxes which forced the future governments to obtain additional loans for paying expenditures and the mounting deficit. The Bloc National believed German reparations would solve their financial problems and refused to allow Germany not to comply with the terms of the Versailles Treaty. During the latter part of the 1920’s parliament issued internal reforms in conjunction with Prime Minister Raymond Poincaré whose goal was to restore the value of the franc, which had greatly depreciated in 1926. Poincaré reduced spending and increased taxes. He was not concerned with restoring the franc to pre-war values; however he ultimately devalued the currency. The French saw their savings decline, but it sparked enormous economic growth as French exports were significantly lower and investor debts were greatly reduced. The Great Depression which began in the United States greatly...

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