The negotiations on German reparations at the London conference have thus far been characterized by their indefiniteness,--by the fact that neither side understands the other. The German "feeler", which offered an indemnity far below the figure set by the Paris estimate, served only to dissipate the differences in opinion between the Allied premiers. Several points of the most vital importance remain obscure because unmentioned.
Enough has transpired, however, to indicate that the Germans consider the French estimate impossible. Dr. Simons, the German spokesman, declares that his people--government and workmen alike--will not submit to measures which would result in the "economic strangulation" of their country. The French, on the other hand, believe that whereas Germany is fighting for further industrial development, they themselves are insisting only upon bare survival in demanding the restoration of their devastated land. Lloyd George epitomizes the situation by stating that the German people do not realize that they lost the war. Threats of coercion from one side, of resistance and Bolshevism from the other, lead to no agreement.
As Dr. Simons has admitted, both parties have until now been talking "through windows,"--parading their oratory for the benefit of the public. The reply to be made today to the Allied ultimatum will doubtless present Germany's "real offer." The value of frank discussion has been demonstrated many, times in the course of the peace negotiations. It is high time the London delegates got down to straightforward proposals.