October 30, 2010. Germany will finally pay off the last of its debts from World War One today, the 20th anniversary of German reunification, bringing the First World War officially to a close.
The final payment of £59.5 million writes off the last of the compensation payments imposed on Germany by the Allies 91 years ago.
The Treaty of Versailles in 1919 forced Germany to pay for reparations to the war-ravaged nations of Belgium and France and to pay the Allies some of the costs of waging what was then the bloodiest conflict in history, leaving nearly ten million soldiers dead.
The initial sum agreed upon for war damages was 226 billion Reichsmarks, a sum later reduced to 132 billion, £22 billion at the time.
Most of the money goes to private individuals, pension funds and corporations holding debenture bonds as agreed under the Treaty of Versailles, where Germany was made to sign the 'war guilt' clause, accepting blame for the war.
France, which had been ravaged by the war, pushed hardest for the steepest possible fiscal punishment for Germany.
The principal representative of the British Treasury at the Paris Peace Conference, John Maynard Keynes, resigned in June 1919 in protest at the scale of the demands.
"Germany will not be able to formulate correct policy if it cannot finance itself,' he warned.
When the Wall Street Crash came in 1929, the Weimar Republic spiralled into debt. Four years later, Hitler was elected Chancellor of Germany.
God help us for the fools that we are.