For Germany after the Great War, the terms of the Versailles settlement imposed many deeply wounding terms; the surrender of territory, industrial and transport capacity and her fleet (at Britain's insistence) dealt blow after blow, but the cruellest humiliation of all was perhaps the least deserved - the imposition of German war-guilt, that Germany alone had been solely responsible for four years of slaughter, destruction and bankruptcy. It was far more complex than that, as we know today. All over Europe in 1914 there was a popular willingness for war and even if Germany was the greatest sinner she was not the only sinner. But in 1919, disgusted perhaps at themselves, the victors sought to burden Germany with all their own guilt at their failure to preserve the peace.
At times over this past weekend, I have been reminded of the unseemly scramble at Versailles by the victors for exoneration. Greece must hand control of her treasury to the IMF, must place €50bn of assets in hock, must pass legislation within 72 hours, must re-sack all the civil servants just re-hired by Syriza. No humiliating burden, it seems, is too great to demand. Like the partners in a doomed marriage, neither of whom are willing to walk-out first, the demands become increasingly unacceptable in order to force a denouement.
And like Versailles, the settlement seeks to re-write history. Greece's entry into the EMU and the Euro was all Greece's fault, the lies and distortions and omissions were wholly Greece's and fooled the rest of Europe; Germany and France and the Commission are all wholly innocent of contriving to force Greece into a monetary union that was always unsustainable. And now Greece must pay for the rest of the Eurozone's insincerity.
Greece is not and will never be another Germany, but there are risks, horrible risks, in seeking to humiliate a nation state so. Have we learned nothing?