Edward Raymond Turner.

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A league of

The Con-
gress of
Paris, 1919

that there ought not to be any mihtarism or force either
on sea or on land. Actually, however, the application of
such a doctrine would principally affect Great Britain and
the British Empire, whose principal strength and sole
reliance was naval power, Britain had won her wars and
become great through power on the sea, and her strength
there was so great that she had long been mistress of the
seas. But it was generally admitted that she had not
abused this power, and in time of peace had not for a
great while interfered with other nations upon the waters.
In time of war she had not seldom exerted her sea-power
with decisive effect; but it was owing to this very agency
that the Allies had been able to resist Germany with
any success, and British sea-power had been the corner-
stone of their alliance. It was certain that the British
people would regard any attempt to deprive them of it as
a thrust at their very existence.

With respect to what was being called a league of
nations, a long line of men, from Henry IV of France and
William Penn to Tsar Alexander I and Tsar Nicholas II,
had hoped for such a thing; and many a plan had been
suggested for it; but so far the perplexity of the problem
had baffled all who attempted to solve it.

The Congress of Paris, which assembled January 18,
1919, began its work amidst unparalleled popular interest
and in the midst of popular expectations that no assembly
could have fulfilled. By the time its first session opened
idealists, pacifists, humanitarians, and a vast number of
others who were enthusiastic but ill-informed, had come
to believe that such a peace treaty was about to be made
and such a settlement of the affairs of the world, that all
the damage done by the war would be amended, yet little
or nothing taken from Austria-Hungary and the German
Empire; that the Allies would be made content, yet the
Central Powers in no wise offended ; that reparation should
be made, yet no indemnities taken ; that self-determination


of peoples would be recognized, yet Germain' and Austria
not be shorn of their possessions; and they believed now
that open tliplomaey would be estaljlished, democracy and
the welfare of the masses, that there would be freedom of
the seas, no more war, and a league of nations with good
feeling and the brotherhood of men. lie who seemeil to
represent the possibility of all of these aspirations was
President Wilson. As he visited London, Paris, and Rome
he was received with an acclaim such as no American in
Europe ever had had. In the estimate of the people he
was the foremost leader and citizen in the world. On the
other hand, a smaller number, though not a few, with
better knowledge of affairs and of what had been done in
the past, predicted that some of the proposals current were
irreconcilable and others impossible of fulfilment, that the
procedure of the Congress must of necessity be much
like what had taken place at Vienna and Berlin, that the
principal business would be to settle the questions which
the Great War had brought forth, and that with respect
to the grander and more general schemes the utmost
possible was for the best men to try earnestly and in good
faith to solve some part of the difficulties which had re-
mained insoluble so long.

From the countries which had participated in the war
against the Central Powers came delegates to the Confer-
ence at Paris. There was to be made a treaty which,
when ready, would be submitted to Germany at Versailles,
and others that would be offered to her recent allies.
Neither Germany nor her allies were to take part in the
discussion nor the framing of the treaties, which were to
be submitted merely for acceptance or rejection. From
January to May the delegates and their advisers deliber-
ated on the matters before them.

Some of the more important matters were quickly
decided. The great decisions were not arrived at openly
or with the knowledge of the entire Conference. The very






The council
of f oxir

to be dealt
with: the

temperament of President Wilson was such that he easily
acceded to what was doubtless the only workable scheme:
important affairs were first decided by the representatives
of the five greatest powers, the British Empire, France,
Italy, Japan, and the United States; after which they were
made known to the other members of the Congress.
Actually the principal work was always in the hands of
four men, Mr. George, M. Clemenceau, Signor Orlando,
prime ministers respectively of the United Kingdom,
France, and Italy, and President Wilson. The question
of the freedom of the seas was soon dropped, and wisely,
as competent critics had hoped and predicted beforehand.
With respect to the reduction of armaments little was
done; the defeated powers were to be compelled to dimin-
ish theirs and it was hoped that others would be able later
to do likewise. None the less, there remained numerous
difficult questions to be settled, which were all the more
perplexing because this time, unlike what had taken place
at Vienna and Berlin, the framers of the treaty would make
an honest effort to face the difficulties and settle them,
not evade them by some specious or convenient solution.
First among the matters to be dealt with was the
question of the treatment of the conquered powers.
Some, who professed to be the prophets of a new era,
declared that a peace of vengeance would only lead to new
wars, and that mild treatment, or, as they called it, just
treatment, which would not offend Germany and her
friends but leave them content, was the only way to spare
succeeding generations from the horrors that had blasted
the present. Some of these people in the Allied countries,
like Lenine and Trotzky in Russia, proclaimed that there
must be no annexations and no indemnities. A larger
number said that Germany and Austria must repair the
devastation they had wrought in the invaded countries,
but that was all. There were not a few who asserted that
the people of the Teutonic countries were little, if any.


more to be blamed than the others, since it was tlie ^reed of
imperialists and capitalists, and the rashness of diplo-
mats working in secret, which had brought on the war,
and these baneful influences had been strong in all the
countries concerned. On the other hand were a great
many who had come to fear and to hate the (iermans more
than any people for generations had been hated. They
declared that Germany and her allies must be stri[)ped to
the uttermost to pay for the infinite woe they had caused.
It was vain, they said, to try to conciliate such people by
mild treatment; an enduring peace could be obtained, if
at all, only by so reducing her power that Germany could
not make unprovoked attacks in the future. Some of
these advocates proposed that to France should be given
German territory down to the Rhine, and that Germany
should be compelled to pay the entire cost of the war.
This last was obviously impossible. The war had
cost the Allies more than $120,000,000,000, perhaps
$200,000,000,000, including all indirect losses; but the
total wealth remaining to the Gennan Empire w^as per-
haps not more than $50,000,000,000

The question of the German colonies attracted less
attention. Some declared that they ought under no
circumstances to be taken away, since the Germans needed
colonial possessions; they had never had their fair share,
and this was one of the causes of the war. On the other
hand, it was vehemently asserted that the Germans had
most cruelly misused the native populations, and w^ere
unworthy to be entrusted with ruling them any longer.

The question of Alsace-Lorraine was not really before
the Conference, since the French had already occupied
the provinces, and were not willing to discuss the matter
further. They said they were merely taking back what
had once been wrested from them. But the whole ques-
tion was very complicated, and had already been a great
deal discussed. There could be no doubt that while a

and severity

The German







The Italian

Italians and

portion of the people in Lorraine were French, most of the
rest were Germans. The districts had long been attached
to the Holy Roman Empire of the Germans, from which
they were taken mostly by force by the French, under
Louis XIV and Louis XV. On the other hand, this terri-
tory had originally been part of a middle kingdom be-
tween Germany and France, which had presently fallen to
pieces. There was also no doubt that, after their in-
corporation into the kingdom of France, the people of the
provinces became strongly attached to the French Govern-
ment, took prominent part in the French Revolution, and
thoroughly shared in the development of French nation-
ality then, so that in 1871 they were most unwilling to be
taken by Germany from France. The question was further
complicated because of the great strategic importance
of the country, in the hands of either Germany or France,
and because in Lorraine lay the most valuable iron-ore
deposits in Europe.

The question of the Italian frontier seemed relatively
simple, though, in the end, it proved difficult to arrange.
It was generally conceded that Italia Irredenta should be
taken from the broken Dual Monarchy, but the extent of the
lands to be taken proved difficult to settle. There was no
doubt about the Trentino, nor about Trieste, though that
port was Austria's sole outlet to the sea; but all down the
Dalmatian coast, on the eastern side of the Adriatic, were
old Italian towns and a fringe of Italian population, while
the great mass of the people, in the country behind, were
South Slavs. The islands and the seaport districts were,
indeed, largely unredeemed Italian land, but if they were
all given to Italy then an outlying fringe of Italians would
shut off from the sea a far greater number of Jugo-Slavs.
Actually, because of the broad untracked Dinaric Alps,
just back from the coast, the South Slavic people would be
effectually shut off from the sea if they did not obtain
Fiume, inhabited mainly by Italians.


The question of the (Czechs and the Slovaks had not
until recently been much discussed, but became promi-
nent just before peace was made. Bohemia and Moravia,
which had been independent kingdoms in the ^Middle Ages,
then joined under one ruler, were united with Austria in
1526, the same year that part of Hungary also was joined

The Czechs


G E R M A N y\









AUSTRI a/'"'^^^^ ^.


r R U M A N I A



^ I

■ — '\

Scale of Mile*


with Austria. The people were mostly West Slavs, and a
body of their near kinsmen, the Slovaks, lived just to the -phe Slovaks
east in Hungary. The Slovaks had remained a back-
ward people, but the Czechs and Moravians had an old
culture of which they were proud; and during the nine-
teenth century they had revived a strong national feeling.
They had not desired independence so much as autonomy.




The greater
Poland of

but in 1867 they had seen the Dual Monarchy established
in which only the Germans and the Magyars were to rule.
Accordingly, discontent had increased, and during the Great
War their troops deserted the Austrian armies whenever
they could. A body of Czecho-Slovak troops, which had
surrendered to the Russians, had just taken a conspicuous
part in resisting the Bolsheviki.

The question of Poland had been much discussed, and it
had evoked a great deal of interest. The tragic fate of the
Polish people had for some generations aroused deepest
sympathy among the statesmen of western Europe and
among liberals all over the world. To reestablish Poland
had long seemed a most desirable act of international
justice, but the difficulties in the way were so insu^
perable that a new Polish state was outside the cal-
culations of practical statesmen. By the strangest of
coincidences, all three of the powers that had once
divided Poland were ruined by the war. At the very
beginning of the struggle the Russian Government, allied
with the Western Powers, had promised the Poles
autonomy, under the tsar. Then the country had been
conquered by the Teutons; Russia had been ruined and the
tsar was dead. Now, at last, the Teutonic powers them-
selves were prostrate. There was little difference of
opinion about the reconstitution of Poland, but much
difficulty in determining what the boundaries should be.
In former times Poland had greatly extended her borders
so that Polish population was widely scattered and mixed
in with other peoples. Therefore it was not possible
to fix boundaries that would include all the Poles and
not many Germans, Lithuanians, and others, or such
boundaries as would include only Poles without leaving a
great many of them outside the new state. Moreover,
Poland had formerly extended to the Baltic. If now she
were given her outlet to the sea at Danzig, then Prussia
would be divided into two parts.




The Jugo-

The question of the South Slavs presented no funda-
mental difficulty. It was generally agreed that the Jugo-
slavs formerly oppressed in the southern districts of
Austria and Hungary, the people of the provinces of
Carniola, Croatia, Slavonia, Dalmatia, Bosnia, and
Herzegovina, should be given their freedom, and there





union of
them all

was already a movement on foot to have them all unite
with their kinsmen of Montenegro and Servia in a large
Jugo-Slavic state. It would undoubtedly be difficult to
hold in one union these people, of the same race indeed,
but differing much in culture and religion. The im-
mediate difficulty, however, was to reconcile conflicting
ambitions of Italians and South Slavs on the Adriatic


coast, and assure the now fe(Jerution an outlet to the

The question of Constantinople and the Turkish Empire
presented such enormous difficulties that for the most
part it was postponed as lon^ as could be. Many thought
it well to take from the Turks all their possessions except
Anatolia in Asia Minor, their real home, and then free the
subjects whom they had so misruled or distribute the
territories among Britain, France, Itidy, and (ireece. But
Constantinople, as always, was so mighty a prize that there
was no agreement as to who should have it, and some
thought the best solution was to let the Turks still remain.

Since the proceedings of the inner council of the Congress
of Paris were largely secret, the greatest matters being
settled, as at Vienna, in private meetings between the
great men, the motives and procedure that prevailed will
long be partly the subject of conjecture. It is believed
that at opposite extremes were President Wilson and
Premier Clemenceau. The American statesman stood
for the high ideals and the liberal ideas which the long
struggle had quickened in the hearts of the best people,
but he seems to have been without great knowledge of
European statecraft and conditions, and often hampered
by insufficient information. He stood first for justice.
He beheved that an enduring peace could best be obtained
by liberal terms. He desired, above all, that the present
opportunity for establishing a league of nations should
not be allowed to pass, so that governments might there-
after settle their differences by reason and justice, and
not by war. The aged French premier was wise with the
wisdom of long experience and service. Apparently he had
none too great faith in a league of nations, but was willing
to assist in establishing one, provided that he was able
to assure the safety of France for the future. Twice in his
life had France been invaded by the Germans and terribly
ravaged, and now he was resolved upon measures so stern

tinople and

Business of
the Con-




The Treaty
of Versailles


that it would not be likely to happen again. In be-
tween these two were the Italian premier, with no very-
striking policy aside from Italy's interests, it would seem,
and Mr. Lloyd George, one of the great liberal leaders
of the world, who had been very near to the horror and
tragedy of the conflict, and who now used his matchless
skill in reconciling the divergent views of Clemenceau and

May 7, the Treaty having been drawn up was pre-
sented to the German representatives at Versailles. Their
leader made a dramatic declaration for his country, not
without eloquence and pathos, acknowledging Germany's
defeat, but declaring that not the German people alone but
the old system of European imperialism was responsible for
the coming of the war. June 28 the Treaty was signed.
In a document as long as an ordinary book the affairs
of Germany, Europe, and the world were settled, it was
thought, for the time.

At the beginning of the Treaty of Versailles, and a part
of it, was the Covenant, or agreement, of a League of
Nations designed *'to promote international cooperation,
and to achieve international peace and security,
through open, just, and honorable international relations."
At first the members of the League were to be the powers
now signing the treaty, while the remaining South
American states and the neutral countries of Europe were
invited to join. The seat of the League was to be Geneva.
It was to act through an assembly in which each member
was to have one vote, and a council, consisting of members
representing the greater powers. The particular business
of the Council was to be the planning a reduction of arma-
ments "to the lowest point consistent with safety," and
especially the taking of measures for preventing war. If
there arose any dispute which threatened war it must be
submitted to arbitration or inquiry by the Council, nor in
any case should there be resort to war until three months



after decision, which must be rendered witliin a reasonable
time. If a member of the League resorted to war in defi-
ance of these provisions, he was to be regarded as commit-
ting an act of war against all the members of the League,
who should sever relations with him and take measures to
enforce the agreement. It was further provided that
members should abrogate all treaties inconsistent with
the provisions of the League, and that all other treaties
and engagements should be published. Article 10 pro-
vided that, "The ^Members of the League undertake to
respect and preserve as against external aggression tlie
territorial integrity and existing political independence of
all Members of the League. In case of any such aggres-
sion or in case of any threat or danger of such aggression,
the Council shall advise upon the means by which this
obligation shall be fulfilled." This was afterward the
object of much criticism as a provision to keep things as
they were, and make impossible necessary revolution and
change, much as had been said of the Holy Alliance a
century before; but it was difficult to see how such a pro-
vision could be dispensed with, and it \\as hoped that
proper changes would be brought about, when necessary,
by voluntary action of the League or its members.
Another article of vast possibilities for good, but compli-
cated with great difficulties also, proclaimed that the mem-
bers should secure fair and humane labor conditions every-
where, control traflSc in women and children, in opium and
other drugs, in arms and ammunition, and give just treat-
ment to native populations. That this Covenant contained
defects was not to be doubted, and many objections
were easily raised against it. But it was evident that
numerous objections might always be made with respect
to any great constructive effort involving changes, as had
been the case with the adoption of the Constitution of the
United States, the great reforms of the French Revolu-
tion, the passing of the British electoral reform laws,

Article 10

Article 23



The Treaty
with Ger-


and the emancipation of the serfs in Russia. Whatever
its defects, many people beheved that here was at least an
honest attempt to make the world better, a scheme that
would be altered and improved as the result of experience
and in the course of time, if people tried their best to make
it succeed, instead of merely raising objections to it.

This Covenant of the League of Nations was the
first part of the Treaty with Germany. By other pro-
visions Alsace-Lorraine was restored to France, a small
district to Belgium, and to Poland a small portion of
Silesia and the greater part of Posen and West Prussia.
Germany was to renounce her agreements with Belgium
and Luxemburg; she was to yield to France the coal mines
of the Saar Basin, on the French frontier, in compen-
sation for the wanton and terrible destruction of the
French coal mines about Lens, this district to be admin-
istered by the League of Nations for fifteen years, the
people of the district to determine after that time whether
it should continue under the League, or be returned to
Germany, or united with France. Germany lost thus more
than 35,000 square miles, a sixth of her former area, and
about 7,000,000 of her population. Whereas in 1914 she
had an area of 207,000 square miles and a population of
68,000,000, by the Treaty of Versailles she was reduced
to about 170,000 square miles and about 60,000,000 of
people. Furthermore, East Prussia was now left separated
from the remainder of Germany by a "corridor" of Po-
lish territory extending to the Baltic Sea, while Danzig
was made a free city under the guarantee of the League
of Nations. These losses, perhaps, were not in them-
selves so severe as was the taking of so much of Germany's
resources in coal and iron-ore and other materials, which
lay in the territories ceded. In the districts surrendered
to Poland and to France were a considerable part of the
resources upon which Germany's industrial greatness had
been founded and also her military strength. It was


possible thus that preeminence in Europe luul passed in-
definitely from her.

Germany was required to abrogate the Treaty of Brest-
Litov'sk, which she had forced on Russia; she was to recog-
nize the independence of Austria, of Czecho-Slovakia,
and of Pohind, the new slates now being estabhshed;
leave the fate of the Danish country once taken from
Denmark to be decided by the j)eople themsehes, and
destroy the fortifications of the fortress of Helgoland.
Outside of Europe she was to renounce all her possessions:
her colonies, her rights in China, Siam, Lil^eria, and
Morocco; cede her rights in Shantung to Japan, and
recognize the British protectorate over Egypt. She was
to abolish conscription, and limit her army to 100,000 men,
her navy to a few small ships, with no sul^marines, her
warships being surrendered to the Allies, and she was to
have no airplanes for purposes of war. She was also for-
bidden to keep any fortresses within a zone of territory
extending from her frontier to fifty kilometers, east of the

The Treaty declared that the war had been forced upon
the Allies by German aggression. To repair the damage
and losses caused to them Germany was to pay an
indemnity of which the amount was to be fixed later on,
in accordance with Germany's ability to pay; but
$5,000,000,000 was to be paid by May 1, 1921, twice that
amount in the five years following, and $10,000,000,000
still later. Subsequently attempt was made to fix the
total at $30,000,000,000, and on another occasion at
$55,000,000,000. Germany was to replace ton for ton the
merchant ships destroyed in the war, and she was to
undertake the restoration of the areas devastated by her
armies of invasion. The Kiel Ganal and certain rivers
of Germany were to be opened to free navigation.

This Treaty, which according to some was the most
terrible doom ever imposed upon any nation since the

Online LibraryEdward Raymond TurnerEurope since 1870 → online text (page 42 of 49)