Charles Homer Haskins.

Some problems of the Peace conference online

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The purpose of the lectures here published is to
give a rapid survey of the principal elements in
that territorial settlement of Europe which has
been pronounced *'the most reasonable part of
the work of the Conference" ^ of Paris. Each
problem is placed in its historical setting, while at
the same time the effort is made to view it as some-
thing demanding practical solution in the treaties
of peace. The perspective of proceedings as seen
at Paris has been kept in mind throughout,
although the authors have not felt at liberty to
enter into the details of negotiations which may
have become known to them in their official capac-
ity. Limits of time and space restrict the treat-
ment to Europe, and to those parts of Europe
which came before the Conference for settlement.
Hence Russia is necessarily omitted.

The lectures are printed substantially as deliv-
ered at the Lowell Institute last January, with
only incidental revision. In the spelling of place
names the official local usage has been followed
except where there is a well established English

The first four chapters were prepared by Mr.
Haskins, the last four by Mr. Lord.

Where material has been gathered from such a
variety of sources, detailed acknowledgment is

^ Charles Seignobos, in The Neiv Europe^ March 25, 1920.



impossible. The bibliographical notes at the end
of the several chapters are meant merely to indi-
cate the more obvious references for readers who
may wish to follow out particular topics. The
authors desire to express their indebtedness to
their colleagues on the 'Inquiry' and the terri-
torial section of the American Commission to
Negotiate Peace, and their appreciation of many
courtesies from the experts of the Allied delega-
tions. They are under special obligations to the
hospitality of the American Geographical Society
and its Director, Dr. Isaiah Bowman. Mr. George
W. Robinson has made valuable suggestions in
correcting the proof sheets. While grateful for
assistance from many sources, each of the authors
bears sole responsibility for the opinions he has
here expressed.

C. H. H.
R. H. L.

Cambridge, May /j, ig20.



Tasks and Methods of the Conference 3-35

The Tasks 3

The Problem of Frontiers 10

Organization of the Conference .... 23

BibHographical Note 33


Belgium and Denmark 37-73

Schleswig 37

The Kiel Canal and Heligoland ... 46

Belgium 4^

Position at the Conference 49

Malmedy, Eupen, and Moresnet . . 54

Luxemburg . 57

Limburg and the Scheldt 60

Bibliographical Note 7^


Alsace-Lorraine . . ^ 75-116

The Historical Background 75

The Franco-German Debate 84

The Armistice and the Treaty .... 105

Bibliographical Note 115




The Rhine and the Saar 1 17-152

The Rhine 117

The Left Bank 123

The Saar Basin 132

Bibhographical Note 151


Poland 153-200

The Resurrection of Poland 153

The Western Frontier and Danzig . . 172

GaHcia 188

The Eastern Frontier 195

Bibliographical Note 199


Austria 201-229

The Collapse 201

Czecho-Slovakia 213

The Germans in Bohemia 216

The Austrian Republic 222

Klagenfurt 223

The Italian Frontier 224

Bibliographical Note 228


Hungary and the Adriatic 231-262

The End of the Old Hungarian State . 231


Hungary's Losses 237

The Slovaks 237

The Ruthenians 238

The Roumanians 239

The Yugo-Slavs 241

The Adriatic Question 244

Gorizia, Trieste, and Istria 249

Dalmatia 251

Fiume 256

Bibhographical Note 261


The Balkans 263-290

Bulgaria and her Neighbors 263

The Macedonian Question 267

The Dobrudja 275

Bulgaria's New Losses 276

The Aspirations of Greece 277

Epirus and Albania 278

Thrace 281

Constantinople 285

Bibliographical Note 288

INDEX 291-307



I. Belgium AND HER Neighbors ... 74
II. Alsace-Lorraine and the Saar

Valley 152

III. Poland 200

IV. Territories of the Former Austro-

Hungarian Monarchy .... 242

V. The Adriatic 262

VI. The Balkans 290






Great peace conferences are proverbially slow
bodies. The negotiators of Munster and Osna-
bruck spent five years in elaborating the treaty
of Westphalia; the conferences of Paris and
Vienna labored a year and a half at undoing the
work of Napoleon. Judged by these standards,
the Peace Conference of 19 19 was an expeditious
body. It began its sessions January 18 and
adjourned December 9. It submitted the treaty
with Germany, including the covenant of the
League of Nations, May 7; the treaty with
Austria June 2 and July 20; the treaty with Bul-
garia September 19; the treaty with Hungary
in November. In the early summer it prepared
various treaties with Roumania and the new states
of eastern Europe. The heaviest part of its work
was done in less than six months, before the de-
parture of President Wilson on June 28.

Judged by its output in a given time, the Con-
ference must also be pronounced a businesslike
and efficient body. Whereas the treaty of Vienna
covers some seventy pages of print, and the related
conventions perhaps a hundred and fifty pages
more, the published works of the Paris Conference
fill several volumes. The treaties which it drew up

were long and detailed, each of the major treaties



running to a couple of hundred pages and com-
prising some hundreds of articles and annexes —
territorial, political, financial, economic, naval,
and military — besides the provisions respecting
labor and the League of Nations which are common
to all.

The Conference of Paris was likewise a laborious
body. The gaiety of the Congress of Vienna has be-
come proverbial. ** The Congress does not march,"
said the Prince de Eigne, *' it dances." " Everybody
dances save Talleyrand, who has a club foot. He
plays whist." It is probable, as recent historians
of the Vienna assemblage have pointed out, that
**the unending series of balls, dinners, reviews,
and fetes did not greatly hinder the work of those
whose industry was important." ^ Nevertheless
the presence of a crowd of kings and princes and
great ladies — the Prince de Eigne wore out his hat
taking it off at every turn — gave the Congress of
Vienna an air of splendor and gaiety which was
conspicuously lacking at Paris. There were no
kings at the Paris Conference, indeed there were
few kings left anywhere in Europe by January 191 9.
There were no balls, no great festivities. If the
Conference did not always advance, at least it
did not dance. The Marne was too near for that,
in space as well as in time. Armageddon was just
past. The Germans had barely missed marching
up the Champs-Elysees and under the Arc de
Triomphe. The American delegates were within

^ Webster, The Congress of Vienna, p, 93.


an hour's ride of Chateau-Thierry and Belleau
Wood, where their countrymen had, only a few
months before, done *'the things that can't be
done." Two hours would take them to the heart
of the devastated region, refugees from which still
filled Paris. The regiments oi poilus that marched
by with steady stride had looked into the mouth of
hell, and their eyes showed it. The Paris which
Castlereagh had found **a bad place for business"
in 1 8 14 was a better place for business in 19 19.
The world wanted peace, and it wanted it soon.

It was also a hungry world. Pliny tells of a
fabled people of the East so narrow-mouthed that
they lived by the smell of roast meat. Even that
gladsome and satisfying odor had long since dis-
appeared from the nostrils of a great part of
Europe, and the mouths had not shrunk. **If
they have no bread, let them eat cake," a great
lady had said at the time of the French Revolution.
The cake had gone with the bread. **The wolf,"
said Mr. Hoover, "is at the door of the world."
More than once the Peace Conference had to turn
from other matters to feed the peoples whose
frontiers it was drawing, to deal earnestly and
under pressure with problems of blockade and
rationing, of transportation by land and sea.

Back of hunger lay anarchy. Great states were
on the verge of dissolution, and it was doubtful
who, if anyone, could sign the treaty on their be-
half. There were times when the Conference had
also to interrupt its labors to consider the chaos


into which the world seemed to be drifting. The
day after the Bolshevist revolution in Hungary
one of the sanest of American journalists remarked,
**In the race between peace and anarchy, anarchy
seems today to be ahead."

No peace congress had ever confronted so colos-
sal a task. The assembly at Paris met to end a
world war, then in its fifth year, which had de-
stroyed 9,000,000 lives and untold billions of
property, and left the world staggering under a
crushing burden of debt and destruction. It had
in the first instance to liquidate the affairs of three
bankrupt empires, the German, the Austro-Hun-
garian, and the Turkish. The peoples which they
had held in unwilling subjection were to be set
free, and either attached to the neighboring peoples
from which they had once been torn, or established
firmly as independent and self-governing states.
" As Lord Bryce had predicted, the most knotty
disputes which faced the Conference were * nearly
all problems that involve the claims of peoples dis-
satisfied with their present rulers and seeking either
independence or union with some kindred race.' "
Several thousand miles of new boundaries had to
be drawn, marking new frontiers, and if possible
these frontiers must be just and lasting. Provi-
sion must be made for restoring the lands laid
waste by war and reestablishing the normal
commercial and industrial life of the warring coun-
tries. Those responsible for the war must pay,
and they must be punished. Finally, if possible.


effective measures must be taken to prevent the
recurrence of a similar war, whether brought about
by Germany's lust of conquest or by any other
state. If war could not be prevented, it must at
least be rendered more difficult and more abhor-
rent to the common moral sense of mankind.

Far beyond the more immediate and necessary
tasks of the Conference rose the dreams of those
who looked for the dawning of a new age of peace
and justice, a new social and economic era. The
downtrodden and the oppressed looked toward
Paris. Visions of peace were confused with visions
of the millennium. *' We were told," said a Scotch
mill-worker, later in the winter, '* that the peace
would bring in the New Jerusalem. We want some
of that New Jerusalem." The day President
Wilson sailed for Brest, a worker at the Twenty-
third Street Ferry, speaking for the early crowd
hurrying to their long hours in New York sweat-
shops, pointed to Hoboken and said, ''There goes
the man who is going to change all this for us."
Beautiful, extravagant, heart-breaking hopes were
centred on the Conference at Paris, most of all on
the leader of the American delegation and his pro-
gramme. And such hopes were in large measure
inevitably doomed to disappointment. The con-
gress could not create a new heaven and a new
earth; it could at best only make some short
advance on the road thither and show the way
along which further advance lay. Renan tells of a
devout soul, who, seeing so much evil about him,


was periodically afflicted with doubts concerning
the goodness of an all-powerful God. *' Perhaps/'
his parish priest would answer, ''you have too high
an idea of God and what he can do." "It was an
old world," writes Mommsen of the age which just
preceded the Christian era, "and even Caesar
could not make it young again."

A just peace, a durable peace, if possible a quick
peace, could these ends be secured ? The task was
Qne which called for compromise and adjustment,
it called also for organization. There is said to
have been a plan for quick preliminaries which
should end the state of war, followed by the
leisurely and expert working out of details. If such
a course had been possible, it would probably have
been the best. Germany would have accepted
terms in January at which she howled in June,
while the Allied peoples might thus have avoided
the long agony of doubt and postponement which
delayed the resumption of normal activities and the
rehabilitation of the devastated regions. The
world that was malleable after the armistice soon
grew cold and hard. It is, however, a matter for
serious question whether an agreement upon such
preliminaries was possible. The problems were too
varied and intricate, the conflict of interests too
acute, the new ideas too new, to admit of even pro-
visional adjustment in a few weeks. The Confer-
ence seemed long, too long, to the outside world
which waited. If it did not dance, like the Con-
gress of Vienna, neither did it always seem to


march, like the .Congress of Berlin, which had
a cut-and-dried programme. At times it was
undoubtedly too slow; at times certain special
problems, like Fiume, consumed energy altogether
out of proportion to their importance; yet the Con-
ference made steady and on the whole rapid prog-
ress. It was a hard-working body, and its scanty
time was well spent.

It will be many years before the history of the
Peace Conference can be written. Its work was too
vast and too varied; its records are too scattered
and too inaccessible, many of them still unwritten.
We are still too near for a true perspective. For
some time we must be content with fragmentary,
partial, provisional, journalistic accounts, and we
do well to keep to the main lines of unmistakable
fact. The most obvious results of the work of the
Conference, though not necessarily the most per-
manent results, are its territorial decisions, the
readjustment of boundaries and sovereignties, the
calling of new states into being. These, so far as
they go, are clear and definite. They can be
expressed on a map, their origin and occasion can
be traced, their nature explained. It is these, the
territorial results of the Conference, with their
consequences and implications, which form the
subject of this volume. The treatment is further
limited to Europe, omitting the problems of Asia,
Africa, and the isles of the Pacific.

There are those who maintain that the terri-
torial results are unstable and hence relatively


unimportant, liable to speedy readjustment in a
fluid state of international relations, subordinated
in ever increasing degree to economic and social
influences which transcend national boundaries.
All this the future must determine. For the
present the decisive fact for many millions of
Europeans is that they are on one side or another
of a political frontier, members or not of the state
to which their natural allegiance gravitates; and
this is a matter of specific boundary. One may
deplore the rivalries over small bits of territory,
which acquire a factitious significance in the course
of the dispute, but they cannot be ignored. The
possession of land is still a passion of peoples, and
even of what our census calls * minor civil divisions,'
and the history of individual ownership shows that
such passions do not grow less with the growth of
other interests. So long as states continue to
exercise authority within definitely recognized
frontiers, the establishing of their territorial limits
must remain a fundamental problem of interna-
tional relations. If an illustration of the meaning
of frontiers is desired nearer home, one has only
to look at the two sides of the Rio Grande.

Reduced to their lowest terms, the elements
which enter into a national boundary are two, the
land and the people; and an ideally perfect fron-
tier would be at the same time geographic and
ethnographic. Such coincidences are, however,
relatively rare, and the problem varies from age to


age as different geographical considerations change
in relative importance and as the human elements
of race, language, and nationality develop, shift,
and grow more complex.

Thus a glance at the map of Europe shows that
certain frontiers apparently have been drawn by
nature, while others are clearly the work of man.
The Spanish peninsula, Italy, the British Isles,
and the Scandinavian lands are set apart from the
mass of the Continent by broad boundaries of sea
or mountain which have come to form permanent
political frontiers. On the other hand no such
obvious natural obstacles separate France from
Germany, Germany from Russia, Belgium from
Holland, Austria from its neighbors, Serbia from
Bulgaria. So far as the boundaries have been
drawn by geographic forces, the forces are less
obvious; if they have been drawn by the course of
history, this requires explanation and elucidation.
It so happened that the Paris congress had to do,
not with the outlying regions where the physical
and the political maps generally coincide, but with
those lands of central and eastern Europe where the
adjustment is most complicated. We shall under-
stand its work more clearly if we pause to analyze
briefly this problem of frontiers.

Of the geographical elements which go to form
frontiers, the most obvious, after the sea, is con-
stituted by mountains. The Pyrenees are a perfect
example of a natural frontier which is also an actual
frontier, and so in a lesser degree are the Alps and


the Carpathians. Mountains inevitably divide,
turning peoples different ways, in spite of modern
means of communication, and they have always
been valued as military barriers. Rivers, on the
contrary, although they have military value, unite
rather than divide, so that we need not be sur-
prised if we find no important instances of a river
frontier in present-day Europe, save along the
Danube and where the Rhine separates Alsace and
Baden. Most frontiers are neither mountain
ranges nor rivers, yet they are often adjusted to
lesser features of topography, with reference either
to defence or to means of communication. Com-
munication notably, with the growth of modern
systems of transportation, bears an intimate rela-
tion to boundary problems. Access to the sea,
either directly or by neutralized or international-
ized rivers, has become a prime necessity for most
states, and occupied the Conference especially in
the cases of Poland and Czecho-Slovakia. Even
railroad lines, especially where they monopolize
natural routes, have their place in frontier adjust-
ments, as in Carinthia or between East and West

Another geographical element, essentially mod-
ern in its significance, is found in natural resources.
This has never been wholly absent from boundary
problems, at least in its early form of fertile or less
fertile land, but it has taken on a preponderant
importance with the growth of modern industrial-
ism. Each state has been anxious to bring within


its limits supplies of mineral resources, and espe-
cially of that foundation of modern industry, coal.
Now it so happens that some of the most important
deposits of coal and mineral wealth lie on or near
disputed frontiers. The coal of Upper Silesia,
Teschen, Limburg, and the Saar, the iron of Briey
and annexed Lorraine, the potash of Upper Alsace,
the mercury mines of Carniola, are all cases in
point. Prussia was affected by such considerations
in drawing the frontiers of 18 15 and 1871; other
countries had learned the lesson by 1919.

The human elements in frontier-making are still
more complex than the geographical. Obviously
we have to do not with individuals but with groups,
and with those larger groups which have acquired
a full measure of what the sociologists call * con-
sciousness of kind,' to the point of constituting
some kind of national unity or national organiza-
tion. We speak of the self-determination of
peoples, but what is a people? Is it created by
race or language or political allegiance, or only by
that more subtle compound which we call national-
ity? How large must a people be to have a right
to stand alone? Can it stand alone without cer-
tain economic and even military prerequisites?
How far can we go in breaking up states in order
to give effect to self-determination?

Such general principles might have a very
wide application. Formulated with special refer-
ence to the Central Powers, self-determination
was seized upon by men who had a case to urge in


any part of the world — in Ireland, in Egypt, in
the Philippines. A German map of last spring
even represented Hawaii, St. Thomas, Florida, and
Texas as trying to escape from their unwilling sub-
jection to the United States^ — a curious evidence
that German mentality had not changed since the
notorious Zimmermann note of 191 7. More than
once it was necessary to point out that the function
of the Paris Conference was not to do abstract jus-
tice in every corner of the earth, but to make peace
with Germany, Austria-Hungary, Bulgaria, and
Turkey. Many causes perhaps excellent in them-
selves were not the business of the Conference.

Even within the self-imposed limits of the Con-
ference, there were difficulties. "Self-determina-
tion," President Wilson had said, '*is not a mere
phrase, it is an imperative principle of action."
But President Wilson had also said that self-
government cannot be given but must be earned;
that ''Hberty is the privilege of maturity, of self-
control," that ''some peoples may have it, there-
fore, and others may not."^ However just and
admirable self-determination might be, it could be
fully applied only to peoples who had some experi-
ence in self-government and thus some means of
political self-expression. For this reason it was
not applicable to the downtrodden natives of the
German colonies. And even among self-govern-
ing peoples there are practical limitations. Self-

^ Was von der Entente ilbrig bliebe vcenn sie Ernst machte mit dem ^^Selbst-
hestimmungsrecht" (Berlin, D. Reimer).

2 Atlantic Monthly y xc, pp. 728, 731 (1902).


determination may be only another name for
secession, and we fought the Civil War to prevent
that; we have been none too successful in securing
the subsequent self-determination of the negroes
in the southern states. Sometimes a people may
be too small to stand alone, and sometimes, as in
parts of the Balkans and Asia Minor, the mixture
of peoples may defy separation. In western Asia,
notably, national aspirations have outrun the social

Wherever you apply it, self-determination runs
against minorities. Ireland has its Ulster, Bo-
hemia its Germans, Poland its Germans and Lithua-
nians. There are minorities along every frontier.
Some one remarked that there was need of a fif-
teenth point, the rights of minorities. The Con-
ference found this out, and upon the newly estab-
lished states of eastern Europe were imposed
special treaties safeguarding the rights of minority
peoples — Jews, Germans, Russians, etc. — whom
past experience had shown to need such guarantees.

Of these human elements in frontier-making we
may begin by eliminating race, for in Europe
race is a matter of no importance in drawing
national lines. This point is emphasized, here and
later, because there has been a great deal of loose
talk about race, notably on the part of German
writers. So far as it is an exact term at all, race
is a physical fact, dependent upon certain elements
of stature, color, and shape of the skull which
occur and are transmitted in certain fixed combi-


nations or racial types. There are three such
types in Europe, the Teutonic, the Alpine, and the
Mediterranean, most prevalent respectively in
northern, central, and southern Europe. But in
no country do they appear in pure or unmixed
form. Migration and conquest have intermingled
them to such an extent as to leave no sharp racial
frontiers and to make the people of every country
a mixture of two or three races. Thus the central
or Alpine type is widely prevalent in the south and

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Online LibraryCharles Homer HaskinsSome problems of the Peace conference → online text (page 1 of 20)