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11-08-2015, 17:01


The initial impact of the war was ruin for many. Shops in deserted garrison towns found their customers gone. French winemakers, their workers gone to more lucrative employment, were pressed to stay in business. Middle-class businessmen whose enterprises had no link to the war found themselves without customers; few Europeans were able to spend money on furniture or other relics of a peacetime world. Where civilian factories closed, unemployment soon escalated. Paper mills and hatmakers' workshops shut their doors in France in the last months of 1914. Inflation cut deeply into the buying power of civil servants and others on fixed incomes. By the war's conclusion, many German civil servants found that their salary had lost more than half its 1914 buying power. Real wages may have dropped as much as 20 percent in France between the war's beginning and the Armistice, chiefly due to inflation.