Treaty of Versaille conditions

Discussions on all aspects of the First World War not covered in the other sections. Hosted by Terry Duncan.
William Wagner
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Post by William Wagner » 26 Oct 2002 20:56

Interesting statement at the end. Even in WWII appeasement was practiced by the Brits and the French. However in our current conflict it is being practiced by the Russiasand the French. France for some reason is afraid to stand behind a treaty that it helped create. It also seems unwilling to commit to asserting itself in affairs that could significantly affect them such as the Balklands. This is very much a pre WWII attitude. Secondly it is trying to force other nations into the same pattern, such as the US. Now typically this behavior could just be attributed to current leadership or current mood. However it has lasted since the end of WW I. As for Vietnam, if the assination that happened did not. More than likely we would have sought a peace with Vietnam. However we figured that Mihn was a huge communist so we did not. Truth be known The frnch shot our advisor so that we would side with them in keeping the colony. Instead of us finding out that Mihn was flexible, loved the USAand hated China and Russia. Due to it's history of disgrace and humiliation France has lately been a laughing stock of a world power. I would even venture to say canada has more world influence.
However the real killer for France in this last century has been a sense of lack of completion. Every time this century it has stood up for something it has either failed or backed down or both. It is sad to see that most of Europe except for Russia and England seem to be following suite. That is the end of my increadibly off topic tangent :) :monkee: :monkee:

Dobrin
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Post by Dobrin » 26 Oct 2002 22:22

I have something to say about France and about the US and about "our current conflict" with Iraq, but I won't 'cause that'd be a different matter entirely.
I'll just say that I don't consider France's or Russia's stance in these developments an "appeasement" and I don't think that America went to war in Indochina because of France. If you like we can discuss this but in that case we should open another topic and maybe in some other forum.

William Wagner
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Post by William Wagner » 27 Oct 2002 14:53

I apologize I tend to go off on tangents

Anthony EJW
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Re: to William Wagner

Post by Anthony EJW » 30 Oct 2002 13:17

Dobrin wrote:Of course the Germans should not be blamed for the WWI. As far as I remember France declared war to Germany and not vice versa. You point out a very significant matter - the treaty of Versaille was based on a pure lie, laying the responsibility to the Germans. I suggest that's one of the reasons that the US did not recognize it.
Germany declared war on France immediately after declaring on Russia and proceded to invade Belgium. I don't think France did much to start WW1- indeed, French forces moved 10 kms back inside their territory during the July Crisis. Russia certainly did nothing to cool the crisis down when they began mobilization after Austria-Hungary started attacking Serbia, but Russia did not innitiate hostilities.

Germany was certainly not solely to blame, but the makers of Versaillies did have some justification.

Dobrin
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Romania

Post by Dobrin » 01 Nov 2002 21:42

Germany declared war on France 3.VIII.1914. True. Shame on me! I'll try to be more careful with facts.
johny you reimind me of Romania. How harsh conditions were imposed on her by the Central Powers in 1918, some months before the breakdown on the Western and the Thessaloniki Front. What could I say about the disaster that Bulgaria suffered in September that same year? I'll not bother you with that.
I just have to remind you, that Romania did not win A SINGLE BATTLE in WWI and still she got Dobruja (which she had "with so much blood" taken from Bulgaria by attacking her in July 1913 during the 2nd Balkan war while the whole Bulgarian army was concentrated hundreds of kilometers away in Macedonia fighting the Serbs, the Montenegrins and the Greeks altogether), Transylvania, parts of Banat, and Bessarabia - enormous gains considering the size Romania had had in 1913.
Yes, there was the Great victory over the Bela Kun Soviet republic. That is something like the Vittorio Veneto "triumph" of the Italians over the Austrians :wink:

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Qvist
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Post by Qvist » 06 Nov 2002 13:00

Wow, I didn't realise this thread was still alive. Many comments to make here.

Dobrin - you make a interesting point about looking at it from the French angle. Indeed, that France should seek a punitive peace seems no stranger than that post-war German governments should work against Versailles. But most of all, to see the situation through French eyes is quite excruciating. Logically, there are three options open to them:

1. Keep Germany under the iron heel
2. Seek European equilibrium through a system of collective security, as advocated by the Americans
3. Acknowledge the fact that Germany is inherently stronger than France, seek a maximally lenient peace and start building trust and co-operation

And if I were Clemenceau contemplating these option, i think I would be quite exasperated by the enormous difficulties connected to all three.

With No1, I have the problem that my major allies are not willing to contemplate a peace along such lines. I also have an exhausted country that lacks both the will and the resources to carry through such a policy independently and forcefully for any length of time. Most fundamentally, I am up against the simple fact that Germany is stronger than France, so such a policy will always be against the tide so to speak. Not to mention that it is unlikely to become easier over time, produce little good for Europe in general and find little support among other countries.

with No2 , I have the problem that my whole experience and outlook tells me that this idea is just a load of bollocks - the world does not work that way, except in the minds of American philantropists and laypreachers dressed up as presidents and statesmen. I am not about to entrust the future survival of my country to such a pipedream.

With No3, I have the problem that my own people is not ready for this, not after 4 years of bloody war. Equally importantly, I doubt that the German people are ready for it. What guarantees are there that such a policy will protect France from future German aggression? Then there's the question of war guilt, reparations and Alsace-Lorraine. The latter is what has always stood in the way of Franco-German rapprochement. I know that it may have been wise to give the provinces up, but the time for that would have been 10 or 20 years ago, not now after the victorious conclusion of a 4-year war. I'd be lynched for even suggesting it. With the war guilt clause I am a prisoner of our own propaganda, used to sustain the populace through 4 years of hard sacrifice, and reparations is also a political neccessity.

So, what do I do? Any good ideas welcome :)

cheers

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Qvist
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Post by Qvist » 06 Nov 2002 13:21

I have three points to make.
1st The treaty was based on an opinion of who started the war. If you actually read a book on it instead of listining to your history teacher you will come to realize that the fault of the war rested on everyones shoulders
including serbia.
You are right that the war guilt clause served as something of a logical premise of the treaty, and certainly as the general justification for it. But any treaty to end this war was inevitably basically about the postwar european order, and perhaps specifically about Germany's role in it. I think the concerns that governed this would largely have been the same whether or not the treaty contained a guilt clause. In this sense, this provision should perhaps not be regarded as truly central to the basic architecture of the treaty. I think it is well established that this provision was neither fair nor true. Furthermore, I think the allies would have done themselves a favour by not including it, and the Germans would have served their interests better by not focusing on it quite so obsessively in later years, understandable though their outrage over it is. After all, it was in any event gradually if only implicitly killed off, as prevailing historical opinion did not accept it and allied statesmen became increasingly apologetic over it, and sometimes outright dismissive.
2nd. Revenge is not an excuse for conducting international politics. Espicially when the people you piss off are not politicians. Instead the french hurt the populas and eventually the world (the great depression) by this treaty. They did this by removing a major industrial and economic power (Germany) By doing this the world lost a major source of buisness and income...Back to the point. By starving and ruining the German people. the wonderful German goverment created after the war became hated/ just like the French did. This created an atmosphere of revolution. By doing this created and atmosphere for a new powerful ruler and an establishment of German pride. It was not much of a guess to figure out that this new leader would use versille as a staging point for the climb to power and a rally point for revenge and expansion of power.
See my above post. I do not think it is correct to see the French policy as simply one of revenge. Keep in mind that France had barely survived a 4-year war against an enemy they knew would be stronger than them in a fully recovered state. It is not difficult to see why they wanted to postpone that moment for as long as possible. This policy was of course ultimately self-defeating for a number of reasons, several of whom is mentioned by you. What made the French dilemma so terrible, and this course of action more or less inevitable, was that she was facing Germany alone. It was not until well into the thirties that any sort of anglo-French alliance was recreated, and the US withdrew completely from Europe after WWI. The only thing that could have induced France to take a more rational approach to the German problem - and probably also the only thing that could have enforced the Versailles order in whatever form it evolved into - was the sort of security guarantee only england and the US could have provided through alliance. Without this, France was simply too weak to let Germany become strong.
3rd Now for the offensive (not intended to be) part of my argument. Through out history the French have always managed to screw up there forign policy (even Napoleon lost) In this century they have managed to drag the rest of the world in with there screw ups. They lost and allowed the forming of the German Empire. Thy allowed themselves to get unnessicarly sucked into WWI and drag Briton in with them. They did not enforce there own damn treaty allowing Hitler to murder several dozon million people. Instead of confronting him when he was weak enough that
Checlosolvakia (bad spelling but you get the idea) could have defeated him. On top of that they wasted serveal months before the oncoming invasion doing nothing to adjust there tactics to counter the ones Germany showed in Poland. Allied themselves with Germany after defeat, helping to kill several Jews. Then istead of allowing us to make peace with Vietnam after WW II (which we almost did untill French troops "accidently shot our laison with Ho Chi Mhin) they draged us into a hopless war with them just so they could keep there colony. They refused to do any thing about the war in Yugoslavia. Instead they complicated things more by putting demsnds on the US. No they are back to the appeasement game with Saddam Hussain, instead of supporting us. Sorry but the french way of doing things is not the correct way of doing things.
Sorry all you French out there, but I can't find find any basic fault with this reasoning, except to point out that in most of these cases, the dilemmas confronting France varied between the monumental and the impossible :)

cheers

Dobrin
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Post by Dobrin » 07 Nov 2002 13:53

Qvist,
the question of war guilt (correct me if I am wrong it was written in Article 231 of the Versaille treaty in relevance to the reparations to be paid by Germany) was of great importance for the german warlike nationalism that sprang up in the early 20s. An early speech by Hitler (1920 / 21 or so) that I came upon accidentally (I was then interested in something else but took a look at it) reveals the significance of this issue. Hitler was a brilliant orator - he used all the weaknesses of his listeners - and one of them was humiliation. The Germans felt humiliated by the Treaty and particularly by this unjustified accusation that they were the aggressor. Hitler used it skillfully.
The French have not been the only nation who screwed up everything. Everybody screwed it up - Kaiser Wilhelm, Clemenceau, Poincare, Chamberlain, Simon, and not to forget the much praised american president Woodrow Wilson. He was ready to sacrifice some of his 14 points including the right of self-determination of the peoples, in order to bring into life his utopia of collective security and League of Nations. One of the most striking examples is the ceding of South Tirol to the Italians. Was the same principle applied to the Germans in Silesia and Danzig? Or West Prussia? And what in the end? The Republicans blew away his League of Nations. You would say the utopia was realized after WW2? Yes the UN was a basic organ regulating the global conflict between the US and the USSR. What it is now? An excuse for George W. Bush to launch another war. Sorry I'm turning away from our topic
Let's take now the British. How did they fight to preserve peace before WW2 broke out. Tell me what do you think about the concept of the balance of power and how was it applied by Foreign Office during the interwar period. Let's talk about appeasement too. After all what undermined the "Versaille system"?

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