My First Seventy-Six Years: Autobiography

By Hjalmar Horace Greeley Schacht | Go to book overview

CHAPTER THIRTY-TWO
A Far-Reaching Idea

THE Young Plan differed from the Dawes Plan in certain definite details. The Agent for Reparations disappeared from Germany. Instead, the responsibility for the transmission of payments now rested with the Germans, but a protective clause had been inserted for revision in case of emergency. The annual sum payable on account of reparations was reduced by an average of half a milliard marks. The mortgages in favour of the Allies which had hitherto been placed under foreign control as security for payments of reparations were released. All foreign controlling bodies were withdrawn. The Reichsbank and the State Railways were restored to purely German management.

When the Dawes Plan was evolved in 1924 it created a profound sensation because for the first time, instead of one-sided arbitrary action, the reparations problem had been discussed in circumstances usually associated with the drawing-up of a contract. At the time that had constituted a decisive, fundamental change in international politics. The Young Plan included a number of improvements but no sensational change, and the chairman of the conference was perpetually on the look-out for some idea with propaganda value which could be introduced into the Young Plan. I was fortunate enough to conceive such an idea which I submitted one day to Owen Young.

I began by describing the reparations policy from its inception down to the present time. Naturally enough I didn't leave the Versailles Treaty a leg to stand on, but I was at special pains to explain why it had not been possible to comply with the demands of the Dawes Plan and pay the reparations debts out of export surplus. Not once in the course of the past five years had we achieved such a surplus. Rather, we had met all payments of reparations out of the loans made to us by other countries during those years, a system which could not possibly be continued for any length of time. The interest would increase our indebtedness year by year and the loans themselves would not always be forthcoming. It was necessary therefore to take decisive action to strengthen German export trade in order to achieve a surplus.

In addition to this general exposition of the situation, I emphasized that the American policy of lavishing loans upon Germany

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