See post #39. Key lines, in case you’ve forgotten:
*""Constant shelling left the area of the (Western) front so scarred that craters and trench lines can still be seen in the French countryside to this day. Towns that were swept over by the front were obliterated. This was exacerbated by a German scorched-earth policy. When the German army pulled back to the Hindenburg Line after the battle of the Somme, engineer companies systematically pulled down buildings, cut trees, poisoned wells and set booby traps in the areas being evacuated…the German invasion and occupation was needlessly destructive in many ways.
Based on their experience invading France in 1870-71, the German Army was terrified of guerrilla snipers. Officers followed a policy of severe reprisals, putting suspects before firing squads and burning down houses or whole villages in retaliation for alleged shots fired at soldiers. On August 25th, 1914, German soldiers killed 248 residents of the Belgian city of Leuven, expelled the remaining 10,000 citizens, and burned the town, including the university library containing 300,000 irreplaceable medieval manuscripts…
Belgium and northern France were a heavily industrial area, and German occupation forces set about stripping the area of resources, leading to massive food and fuel shortages. Many factories were dismantled and shipped to Germany. Individual towns and cities were assigned indemnities to be collected from civilians’ savings and turned over to the occupation authorities. During July 1915 an indemnity of one million marks was levied on Sedan while the residents of Lille were ordered to pay three million. Basic household goods were extracted from the civilian population—linens, cooking pots, china, and furniture—and civilians were required to quarter soldiers in their homes.
German soldiers killed 248 residents of Leuven, expelled the remaining 10,000 citizens, and burned the town, including the university library containing 300,000 irreplaceable medieval manuscripts.
In addition to requisitions of material goods, German occupation authorities increasingly requisitioned the time and labor of the occupied population. A common punishment for minor infractions was being shipped to Germany to perform forced labor. Young men of military age were drafted into labor battalions and assigned work, including repairing trenches and burying the dead at the front. Sometimes this forced labor was combined with additional humiliations. When 20,000 women and girls were shipped out of Lille in April 1916, they were all forced to undergo the same gynecological examination by German army doctors usually inflicted on registered army prostitutes…
Given all this, the demand for some degree of reparations becomes more understandable. The Allied commitment to help rebuild Germany after World War II wasn’t just the result of less anger towards Germany than in the prior war. It was a realistic response to the fact that German cities and the German economy had been utterly destroyed. In World War I, it was France and Belgium which had suffered that level of destruction, while Germany had benefitted from stripping away their resources during four years of occupation. Reparations were simply a way to try to right the injustices of the occupation and help the more injured party recover from the war."*
This sophisticated view might be shaken if you did some reading on the subject. I suggest starting with Max Hastings “Catastrophe 1914”, which shreds modern historical revisionism on the subject.