Thus, the war-guilt clause and the reparations demanded from Germany did little more than to add fuel to the fire that was growing German resentment and nationalism. Hobsbawm even goes as far to say that the war-guilt clause “proved to be a gift to German nationalism.” 28 Marks argues that “the peace left Germany both powerful and resentful.” 29 It is quite possible, in fact, that German was actually more powerful in 1919 than she was in 1914, especially if one takes into account the deep-seated feelings of resentment that she housed toward her enemies, especially France and Britain.
If these were the difficulties created for Lloyd George at home, they were equally great abroad. He had to reconcile two colleagues, one of whom wanted a peace to be based almost wholly on force, and the other a peace based almost wholly on idealism. Lloyd George had to adjust the two points of view, and the task was inconceivably difficult. It meant self-effacement on his part, sacrifice of his pledges, of his consistency, sometimes even of his dignity. Yet he succeeded in many instances. There are points in which he is liable to severe criticism. But this fact should not exclude the services which his inconceivable adroitness and flexibility rendered to the common cause. It cannot be said that he neglected any purely British interests. The charge that will lie against him in history is that he neglected nobler and more universal interests.
The conditions of the treaty were so vicious that it was seen unanimously as unacceptable by all political parties. The Social Democrat Philip Scheidemann refused to sign and stepped down. But other Social Democrats accepted it. The main victims, as always, were the working people. The shattered German economy was so weak that only a small percentage of reparations were paid in hard currency. Even the payment of a small percentage of the original reparations still placed an intolerable burden on the German economy, and was the cause of the hyperinflation that subsequently plunged it into a bottomless pit.