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100 years ago: German society is perishing

20 October 2023

October 19th, 1923.

GERMANY is distracted by riots in many towns, even in Cologne, and disorder tends to increase. But Dr. Stresemann has achieved a triumph by securing the passage through the Reichstag of his Powers Bill, by an overwhelming majority. This spares the country the danger of a dissolution and an election at a most critical moment. The German Government is setting to work on the currency question, making another attempt to prop up the mark while a new system can be devised, But the position is that in rural Germany monetary transactions have already given place to barter; foodstuffs, especially potatoes, being taken in payment for services by doctors and other professional men. A country which is compelled to revert to barter is not one from which reparations can be extracted, or even expected; and the industrial system upon which the hope of reparations can alone be based is tumbling into ruin. The port of Hamburg is decaying, the warehouses of Berlin are empty, the banks exist only upon speculative business. The industrialist leaders have decided that they cannot resume the reparation deliveries of coal, cannot even continue to employ their workmen at all, and that in a fortnight they must close altogether the mines and industries of the Ruhr. Their decision is not a move against either the French Government or their own, it is dictated by sheer necessity. With the winter coming on, the prospect for Germany and Europe is appalling. The civilization of one of the greatest industrial countries in the world is on the point of perishing.

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