Francesco Saverio Nitti
Part 1 out of 5
Produced by Jonathan Ingram, Josephine Paolucci and PG Distributed
FRANCESCO S. NITTI
In this book are embodied the ideas which, as a parliamentarian, as
head of the Italian Government, and as a writer, I have upheld with
firm conviction during the last few years.
I believe that Europe is threatened with decadence more owing to the
Peace Treaties than as a result of the War. She is in a state of daily
increasing decline, and the causes of dissatisfaction are growing
Europe is still waiting for that peace which has not yet been
definitely concluded, and it is necessary that the public should be
made aware that the courses now being followed by the policy of the
great victorious States are perilous to the achievement of serious,
lasting and useful results. I believe that it is to the interest of
France herself if I speak the language of truth, as a sincere friend
of France and a confirmed enemy of German Imperialism. Not only did
that Imperialism plunge Germany into a sea of misery and suffering,
covering her with the opprobrium of having provoked the terrible War,
or at least of having been mainly responsible for it, but it has
ruined for many years the productive effort of the most cultured and
industrious country in Europe.
Some time ago the ex-President of the French Republic, R. Poincare,
after the San Remo Conference, _a propos_ of certain differences of
opinion which had arisen between Lloyd George and myself on the one
hand and Millerand on the other, wrote as follows:
"Italy and England know what they owe to France, just as France
knows what she owes to them. They do not wish to part company with
us, nor do we with them. They recognize that they need us, as we
have need of them. Lloyd George and Nitti are statesmen too shrewd
and experienced not to understand that their greatest strength
will always lie in this fundamental axiom. On leaving San Remo
for Rome or London let them ask the opinion of the 'man in the
street.' His reply will be: '_Avant tout, restez unis avec la
I believe that Lloyd George and I share the same cordial sentiments
toward France. We have gone through so much suffering and anxiety
together that it would be impossible to tear asunder links firmly
welded by common danger and pain. France will always remember with a
sympathetic glow that Italy was the first country which proclaimed her
neutrality, on August 2, 1914; without that proclamation the destinies
of the War might have taken a very different turn.
But the work of reconstruction in Europe is in the interest of France
herself. She has hated too deeply to render a sudden cessation of her
hate-storm possible, and the treaties have been begotten in rancour
and applied with violence. Even as the life of men, the life of
peoples has days of joy and days of grief: sunshine follows the storm.
The whole history of European peoples is one of alternate victories
and defeats. It is the business of civilization to create such
conditions as will render victory less brutal and defeat more
The recent treaties which regulate, or are supposed to regulate,
the relations among peoples are, as a matter of fact, nothing but a
terrible regress, the denial of all those principles which had been
regarded as an unalienable conquest of public right. President Wilson,
by his League of Nations, has been the most responsible factor in
setting up barriers between nations.
Christopher Columbus sailed from Europe hoping to land in India,
whereas he discovered America. President Wilson sailed from America
thinking that he was going to bring peace to Europe, but only
succeeded in bringing confusion and war.
However, we should judge him with the greatest indulgence, for his
intentions were undoubtedly sincere and honest.
France has more to gain than any other country in Europe by reverting
to those sound principles of democracy which formed her erstwhile
glory. We do not forget what we owe her, nor the noble spirit which
pervades some of her historic deeds. But _noblesse oblige_, and all
the more binding is her duty to respect tradition.
When France shall have witnessed the gradual unfolding of approaching
events, she will be convinced that he who has spoken to her the
language of truth and has sought out a formula permitting the peoples
of Europe to rediscover their path in life, towards life, is not only
a friend, but a friend who has opportunely brought back to France's
mind and heart the deeds of her great ancestors at the time when fresh
deeds of greatness and glory await accomplishment. The task which we
must undertake with our inmost feeling, with all the ardour of our
faith, is to find once more the road to peace, to utter the word of
brotherly love toward oppressed peoples, and to reconstruct Europe,
which is gradually sinking to the condition of Quattrocento Italy,
without its effulgence of art and beauty: thirty States mutually
diffident of each other, in a sea of programmes and Balkan ideas.
Towards the achievement of this work of civilization the great
democracies must march shoulder to shoulder. At the present moment I
hear nothing but hostile voices; but the time is not far distant when
my friends of France will be marching with us along the same road.
They already admit in private many things which they will presently be
obliged to recognize openly. Many truths are the fruit of persuasion;
others, again, are the result of former delusions.
I place my greatest trust in the action of American democracy.
By refusing to sanction the Treaty of Versailles and all the other
peace treaties, the American Senate has given proof of the soundest
political wisdom: the United States of America has negotiated its own
separate treaties, and resumes its pre-war relations with victors and
It follows that all that has been done hitherto in the way of
treaties is rendered worthless, as the most important participant
has withdrawn. This is a further motive for reflecting that it is
impossible to continue living much longer in a Europe divided by two
contending fields and by a medley of rancour and hatred which tends to
widen the chasm.
It is of the greatest interest to America that Europe should once more
be the wealthy, prosperous, civilized Europe which, before 1914, ruled
over the destinies of the world. Only by so great an effort can the
finest conquests of civilization come back to their own.
We should only remember our dead in so far as their memory may prevent
future generations from being saddened by other war victims. The
voices of those whom we have lost should reach us as voices praying
for the return of that civilization which shall render massacres
impossible, or shall at least diminish the violence and ferocity of
Just as the growing dissolution of Europe is a common danger, so is
the renewal of the bonds of solidarity a common need.
Let us all work toward this end, even if at first we may be
misunderstood and may find obstacles in our way. Truth is on the march
and will assert herself: we shall strike the main road after much of
dreary wandering in the dark lanes of prejudice and violence.
Many of the leading men of Europe and America, who in the intoxication
of victory proclaimed ideas of violence and revenge, would now be very
glad to reverse their attitude, of which they see the unhappy results.
The truth is that what they privately recognize they will not yet
openly admit. But no matter.
The confessions which many of them have made to me, both verbally and
in writing, induce me to believe that my ideas are also their ideas,
and that they only seek to express them in the form and on the
occasions less antagonistic to the currents of opinion which they
themselves set up in the days when the chief object to be achieved
seemed to be the vivisection of the enemy.
Recent events, however, have entirely changed the situation.
As I said before, the American Senate has not sanctioned the Treaty
of Versailles, nor is it likely to give it its approval. The United
States of America concludes separate treaties on its own account.
Agreements of a military character had been arrived at in Paris: the
United States of America and Great Britain guaranteed France against
any future unjust attack by Germany. The American Senate did not
sanction the agreement; in fact, it did not even discuss it. The House
of Commons had approved it subordinate to the consent of the United
States. Italy has kept aloof from all alliances. As a result of this
situation, the four Entente Powers, "allied and associated" (as
formerly was the official term), have ceased to be either "allied" or
"associated" after the end of the War.
On the other hand, Europe, after emerging from the War, is darkened
and overcast by intrigues, secret agreements and dissimulated plots:
fresh menaces of war and fresh explosions of dissatisfaction.
Nothing can help the cause of peace more than giving a full knowledge
of the real situation to the various peoples. Errors thrive in
darkness while truth walks abroad in the full light of day. It has
been my intention to lay before the public those great controversies
which cannot merely form the object of diplomatic notes or of
posthumous books presented to Parliament in a more or less incomplete
condition after events have become irreparable.
The sense of a common danger, threatening all alike, will prove the
most persuasive factor in swerving us from the perilous route which we
are now following.
As a result of the War the bonds of economic solidarity have been
torn asunder: the losers in the War must not only make good their own
losses, but, according to the treaties, are expected to pay for all
the damage which the War has caused. Meanwhile all the countries of
Europe have only one prevailing fear: German competition. In order
to pay the indemnities imposed upon her (and she can only do it by
exporting goods), Germany is obliged to produce at the lowest possible
cost, which necessitates the maximum of technical progress. But
exports at low cost must in the long run prove detrimental, if not
destructive, to the commerce of neutral countries, and even to that of
the victors. Thus in all tariffs which have already been published or
which are in course of preparation there is one prevailing object in
view: that of reducing German competition, which practically amounts
to rendering it impossible for her to pay the War indemnity.
If winners and losers were to abandon war-time ideas for a while,
and, rather, were to persuade themselves that the oppression of the
vanquished cannot be lasting, and that there is no other logical way
out of the difficulty but that of small indemnities payable in a
few years, debiting to the losers in tolerable proportion all debts
contracted towards Great Britain and the United States, the European
situation would immediately improve.
Why is Europe still in such a state of economic disorder? Because the
confusion of moral ideas persists. In many countries nerves are still
as tense as a bowstring, and the language of hatred still prevails.
For some countries, as for some social groups, war has not yet
ceased to be. One hears now in the countries of the victors the same
arguments used as were current coin in Germany before the War and
during the first phases of the War; only now and then, more as a
question of habit than because they are truly felt, we hear the words
justice, peace, and democracy.
Why is the present state of discomfort and dissatisfaction on the
increase? Because almost everywhere in Continental Europe, in the
countries which have emerged from the War, the rate of production is
below the rate of consumption, and many social groups, instead of
producing more, plan to possess themselves with violence of the wealth
produced by others. At home, the social classes, unable to resist,
are threatened; abroad, the vanquished, equally unable to resist, are
menaced, but in the very menace it is easy to discern the anxiety
of the winners. Confusion, discomfort and dissatisfaction thus grow
The problem of Europe is above all a moral problem. A great step
toward its solution will have been accomplished when winners and
losers persuade themselves that only by a common effort can they be
saved, and that the best enemy indemnity consists in peace and joint
labour. Now that the enemy has lost all he possessed and threatens
to make us lose the fruits of victory, one thing is above all others
necessary: the resumption, not only of the language, but of the ideas
During one of the last international conferences at which I was
present, and over which I presided, at San Remo, after a long exchange
of views with the British and French Premiers, Lloyd George and
Millerand, the American journalists asked me to give them my ideas
on peace: "What is the most necessary thing for the maintenance of
peace?" they inquired.
"One thing only," I replied, "is necessary. Europe must smile once
more." Smiles have vanished from every lip; nothing has remained but
hatred, menaces and nervous excitement.
When Europe shall smile again she will "rediscover" her political
peace ideas and will drink once more at the spring of life. Class
struggles at home, in their acutest form, are like the competition of
nationalism abroad: explosions of cupidity, masked by the pretext of
the country's greatness.
The deeply rooted economic crisis, which threatens and prepares new
wars, the deeply rooted social crisis, which threatens and prepares
fresh conflicts abroad, are nothing but the expression of a _status
animae_ or soul condition. Statesmen are the most directly responsible
for the continuation of a language of violence; they should be the
first to speak the language of peace.
ACQUAFREDDA IN BASILICATA.
_September_ 30, 1921.
P.S.--"Peaceless Europe" is an entirely new book, which I have written
in my hermitage of Acquafredda, facing the blue Adriatic; it contains,
however, some remarks and notices which have already appeared in
articles written by me for the great American agency, the _United
Press_, and which have been reproduced by the American papers.
I have repeatedly stated that I have not published any document which
was not meant for publication; I have availed myself of my knowledge
of the most important international Acts and of all diplomatic
documents merely as a guide, but it is on facts that I have solidly
based my considerations.
J. Keynes and Robert Lansing have already published some very
important things, but no secret documents; recently, however, Tardieu
and Poincare, in the interest of the French nationalist thesis which
they sustain, have published also documents of a very reserved nature.
Tardieu's book is a documentary proof of the French Government's
extremist attitude during the conference, amply showing that the
present form of peace has been desired almost exclusively by France,
and that the others have been unwilling parties to it. Besides his
articles in the _Revue des Deux Mondes_, Poincare has recently
published in the _Temps_ (September 12, 1921) a whole secret
correspondence between Poincare, President of the Republic,
Clemenceau, President of the Council of Ministers, the American
Delegation, and, above all, Lloyd George.
1. EUROPE WITHOUT PEACE
2. THE PEACE TREATIES AND THE CONTINUATION OF THE WAR
3. THE PEACE TREATIES: THEIR ORIGIN AND AIMS
4. THE CONQUERORS AND THE CONQUERED
5. THE INDEMNITY FROM THE DEFEATED ENEMY AND THE ANXIETIES OF THE
6. EUROPE'S POST-WAR RECONSTRUCTION AND PEACE POLICY
_The author includes in the book numerous secret official documents
that emanated from the Peace Conference and which came into his hands
in his position, at that time, as Italian Prime Minister. Among these
is a long and hitherto unpublished secret letter sent by Lloyd George
to Nitti, Wilson, Clemenceau, and the other members of the Peace
EUROPE WITHOUT PEACE
Is there anyone who still remembers Europe in the first months of 1914
or calls to mind the period which preceded the first year of the War?
It all seems terribly remote, something like a prehistoric era, not
only because the conditions of life have changed, but because our
viewpoint on life has swerved to a different angle.
Something like thirty million dead have dug a chasm between two ages.
War killed many millions, disease accounted for many more, but the
hardiest reaper has been famine. The dead have built up a great cold
barrier between the Europe of yesterday and the Europe of to-day.
We have lived through two historic epochs, not through two different
periods. Europe was happy and prosperous, while now, after the
terrible World War, she is threatened with a decline and a reversion
to brutality which suggest the fall of the Roman Empire. We ourselves
do not quite understand what is happening around us. More than
two-thirds of Europe is in a state of ferment, and everywhere there
prevails a vague sense of uneasiness, ill-calculated to encourage
important collective works. We live, as the saying is, "from hand to
Before 1914 Europe had enjoyed a prolonged period of peace, attaining
a degree of wealth and civilization unrivalled in the past.
In Central Europe Germany had sprung up. After the Napoleonic
invasions, in the course of a century, Germany, which a hundred years
ago seemed of all European countries the least disposed to militarism,
had developed into a great military monarchy. From being the most
particularist country Germany had in reality become the most unified
state. But what constituted her strength was not so much her army and
navy as the prestige of her intellectual development. She had achieved
it laboriously, almost painfully, on a soil which was not fertile and
within a limited territory, but, thanks to the tenacity of her effort,
she succeeded in winning a prominent place in the world-race for
supremacy. Her universities, her institutes for technical instruction,
her schools, were a model to the whole world. In the course of a few
years she had built up a merchant fleet which seriously threatened
those of other countries. Having arrived too late to create a real
colonial empire of her own, such as those of France and England, she
nevertheless succeeded in exploiting her colonies most intelligently.
In the field of industry she appeared to beat all competitors from a
technical point of view; and even in those industries which were not
hers by habit and tradition she developed so powerful an organization
as to appear almost uncanny. Germany held first place not only in the
production of iron, but in that of dyes and chemicals. Men went
there from all parts of the world not only to trade but to acquire
knowledge. An ominous threat weighed on the Empire, namely the
constitution of the State itself, essentially militaristic and
bureaucratic. Not even in Russia, perhaps, were the reins of power
held in the hands of so few men as in Germany and Austria-Hungary.
A few years before the World War started one of the leading European
statesmen told me that there was everything to be feared for the
future of Europe where some three hundred millions, the inhabitants
of Russia, Germany and Austria-Hungary, about two-thirds of the whole
continent, were governed in an almost irresponsible manner by a man
without will or intelligence, the Tsar of Russia; a madman without a
spark of genius, the German Kaiser, and an obstinate old man hedged in
by his ambition, the Emperor of Austria-Hungary. Not more than
thirty persons, he added, act as a controlling force on these three
irresponsible sovereigns, who might assume, on their own initiative,
the most terrible responsibilities.
The magnificent spiritual gifts of the Germans gave them an Emanuel
Kant, the greatest thinker of modern times, Beethoven, their greatest
exponent of music, and Goethe, their greatest poet. But the imperial
Germany which came after the victory of 1870 had limited the spirit of
independence even in the manifestations of literature and art. There
still existed in Germany the most widely known men of science, the
best universities, the most up-to-date schools; but the clumsy
mechanism tended to crush rather than to encourage all personal
initiative. Great manifestations of art or thought are not possible
without the most ample spiritual liberty. Germany was the most highly
organized country from a scientific point of view, but at the same
time the country in which there was the least liberty for individual
initiative. It went on like a huge machine: that explains why it
almost stopped after being damaged by the war, and the whole life of
the nation was paralysed while there were very few individual impulses
of reaction. Imperial Germany has always been lacking in political
ability, perhaps not only through a temperamental failing, but chiefly
owing to her militaristic education.
Before the War Germany beat her neighbours in all the branches of
human labour: in science, industry, banking, commerce, etc. But in one
thing she did not succeed, and succeeded still less after the War,
namely, in politics. When the German people was blessed with a
political genius, such as Frederick the Great or Bismarck, it achieved
the height of greatness and glory. But when the same people, after
obtaining the maximum of power, found on its path William II with his
mediocre collaborators, it ruined, by war, a colossal work, not only
to the great detriment of the country, but also to that of the victors
themselves, of whom it cannot be said with any amount of certainty,
so far as those of the Continent are concerned, whether they are the
winners or the losers, so great is the ruin threatening them, and so
vast the material and moral losses sustained.
I have always felt the deepest aversion for William II. So few as ten
years ago he was still treated with the greatest sympathy both in
Europe and America. Even democracies regarded with ill-dissimulated
admiration the work of the Kaiser, who brought everywhere his voice,
his enthusiasm, his activity, to the service of Germany. As a matter
of fact, his speeches were poor in phraseology, a mere conglomerate
of violence, prejudice and ignorance. As no one believed in the
possibility of a war, no one troubled about it. But after the War
nothing has been more harmful to Germany than the memory of those ugly
speeches, unrelieved by any noble idea, and full of a clumsy vulgarity
draped in a would-be solemn and majestic garb. Some of his threatening
utterances, such as the address to the troops sailing for China in
order to quell the Boxer rebellion, the constant association in
all his speeches of the great idea of God, with the ravings of a
megalomaniac, the frenzied oratory in which he indulged at the
beginning of the War, have harmed Germany more than anything else. It
is possible to lose nobly; but to have lost a great war after having
won so many battles would not have harmed the German people if it
had not been represented abroad by the presumptuous vulgarity of the
Kaiser and of all the members of his entourage, who were more or less
guilty of the same attitude.
Before the War Germany had everywhere attained first place in all
forms of activity, excepting, perhaps, in certain spiritual and
artistic manifestations. She admired herself too much and too openly,
but succeeded in affirming her magnificent expansion in a greatness
and prosperity without rival.
By common accord Germany held first place. Probably this consciousness
of power, together with the somewhat brutal forms of the struggle for
industrial supremacy, as in the case of the iron industry, threw a
mysterious and threatening shadow over the granitic edifice of the
When I was Minister of Commerce in 1913 I received a deputation of
German business men who wished to confer with me on the Italian
customs regime. They spoke openly of the necessity of possessing
themselves of the iron mines of French Lorraine; they looked upon war
as an industrial fact. Germany had enough coal but not enough iron,
and the Press of the iron industry trumpeted forth loud notes of war.
After the conclusion of peace, when France, through a series of wholly
unexpected events, saw Germany prostrate at her feet and without an
army, the same phenomenon took place. The iron industry tends to
affirm itself in France; she has the iron and now she wants coal.
Should she succeed in getting it, German production would be doomed.
To deprive Germany of Upper Silesia would mean killing production
after having disorganized it at the very roots of its development.
Seven years ago, or thereabouts, Germany was flourishing in an
unprecedented manner and presented the most favourable conditions for
developing. Her powerful demographic structure was almost unique.
Placed in the centre of Europe after having withstood the push of so
many peoples, she had attained an unrivalled economic position.
Close to Germany the Austro-Hungarian Empire united together eleven
different peoples, not without difficulty, and this union tended to
the common elevation of all. The vast monarchy, the result of a slow
aggregation of violence and of administrative wisdom, represented,
perhaps, the most interesting historic attempt on the part of
different peoples to achieve a common rule and discipline on the same
territory. Having successfully weathered the most terrible financial
crises, and having healed in half a century the wounds of two great
wars which she had lost, Austria-Hungary lived in the effort of
holding together Germans, Magyars, Slavs and Italians without their
flying at each others' throats. Time will show how the effort of
Austria-Hungary has not been lost for civilization.
Russia represented the largest empire which has ever been in
existence, and in spite of its defective political regime was daily
progressing. Perhaps for the first time in history an immense empire
of twenty-one millions and a half of square kilometres, eighty-four
times the size of Italy, almost three times as large as the United
States of America, was ruled by a single man. From the Baltic to
the Yellow Sea, from Finland to the Caucasus, one law and one rule
governed the most different peoples scattered over an immense
territory. The methods by which, after Peter the Great, the old Duchy
of Muscovy had been transformed into an empire, still lived in the
administration; they survive to-day in the Bolshevist organization,
which represents less a revolution than a hieratic and brutal form of
violence placed at the service of a political organization.
The war between Russia and Japan had revealed all the perils of
a political organization exclusively based on central authority
represented by a few irresponsible men under the apparent rule of a
sovereign not gifted with the slightest trace of will power.
Those who exalt nationalist sentiments and pin their faith on
imperialistic systems fail to realize that while the greatest push
towards the War came from countries living under a less liberal
regime, those very countries gave proof of the least power of
resistance. Modern war means the full exploitation of all the human
and economic resources of each belligerent country. The greater a
nation's wealth the greater is the possibility to hold out, and the
perfection of arms and weapons is in direct ratio with the degree
of technical progress attained. Moreover, the combatants and the
possibility of using them are in relation with the number of persons
who possess sufficient skill and instruction to direct the war.
Germany, Great Britain, France, Italy, the United States of America,
were able without any appreciable effort to improvise an enormous
number of officers for the War, transforming professional men,
engineers and technicians into officers. Russia, who did not have a
real industrial bourgeoisie nor a sufficient development of the middle
classes, was only able to furnish an enormous number of combatants,
but an insufficient organization from a technical and military point
of view, and a very limited number of officers. While on a peace
footing her army was the most numerous in the world, over one million
three hundred thousand men; when her officers began to fail Russia was
unable to replace them so rapidly as the proportion of nine or ten
times more than normal required by the War.
Russia has always had a latent force of development; there is within
her a _vis inertiae_ equivalent to a mysterious energy of expansion.
Her birth-rate is higher than that of any other European country;
she does not progress, she increases. Her weight acts as a menace
to neighbouring countries, and as, by a mysterious historic law the
primitive migrations of peoples and the ancient invasions mostly
originated from the territories now occupied by Russia, the latter has
succeeded in amalgamating widely different peoples and in creating
unity where no affinity appeared possible.
At any rate, although suffering from an excessively centralized
government and a form of constitution which did not allow the
development of popular energies nor a sufficient education of the
people, Russia was perhaps, half a century before the War, the
European country which, considering the difficulties in her path, had
accomplished most progress.
European Russia, with her yearly excess of from one million and a
half to two million births over deaths, with the development of
her industries and the formation of important commercial centres,
progressed very rapidly and was about to become the pivot of European
When it will be possible to examine carefully the diplomatic documents
of the War, and time will allow us to judge them calmly, it will be
seen that Russia's attitude was the real and underlying cause of the
world-conflict. She alone promoted and kept alive the agitations
in Serbia and of the Slavs in Austria; she alone in Germany's eyes
represented the peril of the future. Germany has never believed in a
French danger. She knew very well that France, single handed, could
never have withstood Germany, numerically so much her superior. Russia
was the only danger that Germany saw, and the continual increase of
the Russian army was her gravest preoccupation. Before the War, when
Italy was Germany's ally, the leading German statesmen with whom I
had occasion to discuss the situation did nothing but allude to the
Russian peril. It was known (and subsequent facts have amply proved
it) that the Tsar was absolutely devoid of will power, that he was led
and carried away by conflicting currents, and that his advisers were
for the most part favourable to the War. After the Japanese defeat the
militarist party felt keenly the need for just such a great military
revival and a brilliant _revanche_ in Europe.
Possessing an enormous wealth of raw materials and an immense
territory, Russia represented Europe's great resource, her support for
If the three great empires had attained enviable prosperity and
development in 1914, when the War burst, the three great western
democracies, Great Britain, France and Italy, had likewise progressed
Great Britain, proud of her "splendid isolation," and ruler of the
seas, traded in every country of the world. Having the vastest empire,
she was also financially the greatest creditor country: creditor of
America and Asia, of the new African states and of Australia. Perhaps
all this wealth had somewhat diminished the spirit of enterprise
before the War, and popular culture also suffered from this
unprecedented prosperity. There was not the spasmodic effort
noticeable in Germany, but a continuous and secure expansion, an
undisputed supremacy. Although somewhat preoccupied at Germany's
progress and regarding it as a peril for the future, Great Britain
attached more importance to the problems of her Empire, namely to her
internal constitution: like ancient Rome, she was a truly imperial
country in the security of her supremacy, in her calm, in her
France continued patiently to accumulate wealth. She did not increase
her population, but ably added to her territory and her savings.
Threatened with the phenomenon known to political economists under the
name of "oliganthropy," or lack of men, she had founded a colonial
empire which may be regarded as the largest on earth. It is true that
the British colonies, even before the War, covered an area of thirty
million square kilometres, while France's colonial empire was slightly
over twelve millions. But it must be remembered that the British
colonies are not colonies in the real sense of the word, but consist
chiefly in Dominions which enjoy an almost complete autonomy. Canada
alone represents about one-third of the territories of the British
Dominions; Australia and New Zealand more than one-fourth, and
Australasia, the South African Union and Canada put together represent
more than two-thirds of the Empire, while India accounts for about
fifty per cent. of the missing third. After England, France was the
most important creditor country. Her astonishing capacity for saving
increased in proportion with her wealth. Without having Germany's
force of development and Great Britain's power of expansion, France
enjoyed a wonderful prosperity and her wealth was scattered all over
Italy had arisen under the greatest difficulties, but in less than
fifty years of unity she progressed steadily. Having a territory
too small and mountainous for a population already overflowing and
constantly on the increase, Italy had been unable to exploit the
limited resources of her subsoil and had been forced to build up her
industries in conditions far less favourable than those of other
countries. Italy is perhaps the only nation which has succeeded in
forming her industries without having any coal of her own and very
little iron. But the acquisition of wealth, extremely difficult at
first, had gradually been rendered more easy by the improvement in
technical instruction and methods, for the most part borrowed from
Germany. On the eve of the War, after a period of thirty-three years,
the Triple Alliance had rendered the greatest services to Italy, fully
confirming Crispi's political intuition. France, with whom we had had
serious differences of opinion, especially after the Tunis affair, did
not dare to threaten Italy because the latter belonged to the Triple
Alliance, and for the same reason all ideas of a conflict with
Austria-Hungary had been set aside because of her forming part of the
During the Triple Alliance Italy built up all her industries,
she consolidated her national unity and prepared her economic
transformation, which was fraught with considerable difficulties.
Suddenly her sons spread all over the world, stimulated by the
fecundity of their race and by the narrowness of their fields.
The greater States were surrounded by minor nations which had achieved
considerable wealth and great prosperity.
Europe throughout her history had never been so rich, so far advanced
on the road to progress, above all so united and living in her unity;
as regards production and exchanges she was really a living unity. The
vital lymph was not limited to this or that country, but flowed with
an even current through the veins and arteries of the various nations
through the great organizations of capital and labour, promoting a
continuous and increasing solidarity among all the parties concerned.
In fact, the idea of solidarity had greatly progressed: economic,
moral and spiritual solidarity.
Moreover, the idea of peace, although threatened by military
oligarchies and by industrial corners, was firmly based on the
sentiments of the great majority. The strain of barbaric blood which
still ferments in many populations of Central Europe constituted--it
is true--a standing menace; but no one dreamt that the threat was
about to be followed, lightning like, by facts, and that we were on
the eve of a catastrophe.
Europe had forgotten what hunger meant. Never had Europe had at her
disposal such abundant economic resources or a greater increase in
Wealth is not our final object in life. But a minimum of means is an
indispensable condition of life and happiness. Excessive wealth may
lead both to moral elevation and to depression and ruin.
Europe had not only increased her wealth but developed the solidarity
of her interests. Europe is a small continent, about as large as
Canada or the United States of America. But her economic ties and
interests had been steadily on the increase.
Now the development of her wealth meant for Europe the development of
her moral ideas and of her social life and aspirations. We admire a
country not so much for its wealth as for the works of civilization
which that wealth enables it to accomplish.
Although peace be the aspiration of all peoples, even as physical
health is the aspiration of all living beings, there are wars which
cannot be avoided, as there are diseases which help us to overcome
an organic crisis to which we might otherwise succumb. War and peace
cannot be regarded as absolutely bad or absolutely good and desirable;
war is often waged in order to secure peace. In certain cases war is
not only a necessary condition of life but may be an indispensable
condition towards progress.
We must consider and analyse the sentiments and psychological causes
which bring about a war. A war waged to redeem its independence by a
nation downtrodden by another nation is perfectly legitimate, even
from the point of view of abstract morality. A war which has for
its object the conquest of political or religious liberty cannot be
condemned even by the most confirmed pacificist.
Taken as a whole, the wars fought in the nineteenth century, wars of
nationality, of independence, of unity, even colonial wars, were of a
character far less odious than that of the great conflict which has
devastated Europe and upset the economic conditions of the world. It
has not only been the greatest war in history, but in its consequences
it threatens to prove the worst war which has ravaged Europe in modern
After nearly every nineteenth-century war there has been a marked
revival of human activity. But this unprecedented clash of peoples
has reduced the energy of all; it has darkened the minds of men, and
spread the spirit of violence.
Europe will be able to make up for her losses in lives and wealth.
Time heals even the most painful wounds. But one thing she has lost
which, if she does not succeed in recovering it, must necessarily lead
to her decline and fall: the spirit of solidarity.
After the victory of the Entente the microbes of hate have developed
and flourished in special cultures, consisting of national egotism,
imperialism, and a mania for conquest and expansion.
The peace treaties imposed on the vanquished are nothing but arms of
oppression. What more could Germany herself have done had she won the
War? Perhaps her terms would have been more lenient, certainly not
harder, as she would have understood that conditions such as we have
imposed on the losers are simply inapplicable.
Three years have elapsed since the end of the War, two since the
conclusion of peace, nevertheless Europe has still more men under
arms than in pre-war times. The sentiment of nationality, twisted and
transformed into nationalism, aims at the subjugation and depression
of other peoples. No civilized co-existence is possible where each
nation proposes to harm instead of helping its neighbour.
The spread of hatred among peoples has everywhere rendered more
difficult the internal relations between social classes and the
economic life of each country. Fearing a repetition of armed
conflicts, and owing to that spirit of unrest and intolerance
engendered everywhere by the War, workers are becoming every day more
exacting. They, too, claim their share of the spoils; they, too,
clamour for enemy indemnities. The same manifestations of hate, the
same violence of language, spread from people to people and from class
This tremendous War, which the peoples of Europe have fought and
suffered, has not only bled the losers almost to death, but it has
deeply perturbed the very life and existence of the victors. It
has not produced a single manifestation of art or a single moral
affirmation. For the last seven years the universities of Europe
appear to be stricken with paralysis: not one outstanding personality
has been revealed.
In almost every country the War has brought a sense of internal
dissolution: everywhere this disquieting phenomenon is more or less
noticeable. With the exception, perhaps, of Great Britain, whose
privileged insular situation, enormous mercantile navy and flourishing
trade in coal have enabled her to resume her pre-war economic
existence almost entirely, no country has emerged scatheless from
the War. The rates of exchange soar daily to fantastic heights, and
insuperable barriers to the commerce of European nations are being
created. People work less than they did in pre-war times, but
everywhere a tendency is noticeable to consume more. Austria,
Germany, Italy, France are not different phenomena, but different
manifestations and phases of the same phenomenon.
Before the War Europe, in spite of her great sub-divisions,
represented a living economic whole. To-day there are not only
victors and vanquished, but currents of hate, ferments of violence, a
hungering after conquests, an unscrupulous cornering of raw materials
carried out brutally and almost ostentatiously in the name of the
rights of victory: a situation which renders production, let alone its
development and increase, utterly impossible.
The treaty system as applied after the War has divided Europe into
two distinct parts: the losers, held under the military and economic
control of the victors, are expected to produce not only enough
for their own needs, but to provide a super-production in order to
indemnify the winners for all the losses and damages sustained on
account of the War. The victors, bound together in what is supposed to
be a permanent alliance for the protection of their common interests,
are supposed to exercise a military action of oppression and control
over the losers until the full payment of the indemnity. Another part
of Europe is in a state of revolutionary ferment, and the Entente
Powers have, by their attitude, rather tended to aggravate than to
improve the situation.
Europe can only recover her peace of mind by remembering that the
War is over and done with. Unfortunately, the treaty system not only
prevents us from remembering that the War is finished, but determines
a state of permanent war.
Clemenceau bluntly declared to the French Chamber that treaties were a
means of continuing the War. He was perfectly right, for war is being
waged more bitterly than ever and peace is as remote as it ever was.
The problem with which modern statesmen are confronted is very simple:
can Europe continue in her decline without involving the ruin of
civilization? And is it possible to stop this process of decay without
finding some form of civil symbiosis which will ensure for all men a
more human mode of living? In the affirmative case what course should
we take, and is it presumable that there should be an immediate change
for the better in the situation, given the national and economic
interests now openly and bitterly in conflict?
We have before us a problem, or rather a series of problems, which
call for impartiality and calm if a satisfactory solution is to be
arrived at. Perhaps if some fundamental truths were brought home to
the people, or, to be more exact, to the peoples now at loggerheads
with each other, a notion of the peril equally impending upon all
concerned and the conviction that an indefinite prolongation of the
present state of things is impossible, would prove decisive factors in
restoring a spirit of peace and in reviving that spirit of solidarity
which now appears spent or slumbering.
But in the first place it is necessary to review the situation, such
as it is at the present moment:
Firstly, Europe, which was the creditor of all other continents, has
now become their debtor.
Secondly, her working capacity has greatly decreased, chiefly owing to
the negative change in her demographic structure. In pre-war times the
ancient continent supplied new continents and new territories with a
hardy race of pioneers, and held the record as regards population,
both adult and infantile, the prevalence of women over men being
especially noted by statisticians. All this has changed considerably
for the worse!
Thirdly, on the losing nations, including Germany, which is generally
understood to be the most cultured nation in the world, the victors
have forced a peace which practically amounts to a continuation of
the War. The vanquished have had to give up their colonies, their
shipping, their credits abroad, and their transferable resources,
besides agreeing to the military and economic control of the Allies;
moreover, despite their desperate conditions, they are expected to
pay an indemnity, the amount of which, although hitherto only vaguely
mentioned, surpasses by its very absurdity all possibility of an even
Fourthly, considerable groups of ex-enemy peoples, chiefly Germans
and Magyars, have been assigned to populations of an inferior
Fifthly, as a result of this state of things, while Germany, Austria
and Bulgaria have practically no army at all and have submitted
without the slightest resistance to the most stringent forms of
military control, the victorious States have increased their armies
and fleets to proportions, which they did not possess before the War.
Sixthly, Europe, cut up into thirty States, daily sees her buying
capacity decreasing and the rate of exchange rising menacingly against
Seventhly, the peace treaties are the most barefaced denial of all the
principles which the Entente Powers declared and proclaimed during the
War; not only so, but they are a fundamental negation of President
Wilson's famous fourteen points which were supposed to constitute a
solemn pledge and covenant, not only with the enemy, but with the
democracies of the whole world.
Eighthly, the moral unrest deriving from these conditions has divided
among themselves the various Entente Powers: United States of America,
Great Britain, Italy and France, not only in their aims and policy,
but in their sentiments. The United States is anxious to get rid,
as far as possible, of European complications and responsibilities;
France follows methods with which Great Britain and Italy are not
wholly in sympathy, and it cannot be said that the three Great Powers
of Western Europe are in perfect harmony. There is still a great deal
of talk about common ends and ideals, and the necessity of applying
the treaties in perfect accord and harmony, but everybody is convinced
that to enforce the treaties, without attenuating or modifying their
terms, would mean the ruin of Europe and the collapse of the victors
after that of the vanquished.
Ninthly, a keen contest of nationalisms, land-grabbing and cornering
of raw materials renders friendly relations between the thirty States
of Europe extremely difficult. The most characteristic examples of
nationalist violence have arisen out of the War, as in the case of
Poland and other newborn States, which pursue vain dreams of empire
while on the verge of dissolution through sheer lack of vital strength
and energy, and becoming every day more deeply engulfed in misery and
Finally, Continental Europe is on the eve of a series of fresh and
more violent wars among peoples, threatening to submerge civilization
unless some means be found to replace the present treaties, which are
based on the principle that it is necessary to continue the War, by a
system of friendly agreements whereby winners and losers are placed
on a footing of liberty and equality, and which, while laying on the
vanquished a weight they are able to bear, will liberate Europe from
the present spectacle of a continent divided into two camps, where one
is armed to the teeth and threatening, while the other, unarmed and
inoffensive, is forced to labour in slavish conditions under the
menace of a servitude even more severe.
THE PEACE TREATIES AND THE CONTINUATION OF THE WAR
The various peace treaties regulating the present territorial
situation bear the names of the localities near Paris in which they
were signed: Versailles, Saint-Germain-en-Laye, Trianon and Sevres.
The first deals with Germany, the second with Austria, the third
with Hungary, and the fourth with Turkey. The Treaty of Neuilly,
comparatively far less important, concerns Bulgaria alone. But the one
fundamental and decisive treaty is the Treaty of Versailles, inasmuch
as it not only establishes as a recognized fact the partition of
Europe, but lays down the rules according to which all future treaties
are to be concluded.
History has not on record a more colossal diplomatic feat than this
treaty, by which Europe has been neatly divided into two sections:
victors and vanquished; the former being authorized to exercise on the
latter complete control until the fulfilment of terms which, even at
an optimistic point valuation, would require at least thirty years to
Although it is a matter of recent history, we may as well call to mind
that the Entente Powers have always maintained that the War was
wanted and was imposed by Germany; that she alone, with her Allies,
repeatedly violated the rights of peoples; that the World War could
well be regarded as the last war, inasmuch as the triumph of the
Entente meant the triumph of democracy and a more human regime of
life, a society of nations rich in effects conducive to a lasting
peace. It was imperative to restore the principles of international
justice. In France, in England, in Italy, and later, even more
solemnly, in the United States, the same principles have been
proclaimed by Heads of States, by Parliaments and Governments.
There are two documents laying down and fixing the principles which
the Entente Powers, on the eve of that event of decisive importance,
the entry of the United States into the War, bound themselves to
sustain and to carry on to triumph. The first is a statement by Briand
to the United States Ambassador, in the name of all the other Allies,
dated December 30, 1916. Briand speaks in the name of all "_les
gouvernements allies unis pour la defense et la liberte des peuples_."
Briand's second declaration, dated January 10, 1917, is even more
fundamentally important. It is a collective note of reply to President
Wilson, delivered in the name of all the Allies to the United States
Ambassador. The principles therein established are very clearly
enunciated. According to that document the Entente has no idea of
conquest and proposes mainly to achieve the following objects:
1st. Restoration of Belgium, Serbia and Montenegro, with the
indemnities due to them.
2nd. Evacuation of invaded territories in France, Russia and Rumania
and payment of just reparations.
3rd. Reorganization of Europe with a permanent regime based on the
respect of nationalities and on the right of all countries, both great
and small, to complete security and freedom of economic development,
besides territorial conventions and international regulations capable
of guaranteeing land and sea frontiers from unjustified attacks.
4th. Restitution of the provinces and territories taken in the past
from the Allies by force and against the wish of the inhabitants.
5th. Liberation of Italians, Slavs, Rumanians and Czeko-Slovaks from
6th. Liberation of the peoples subjected to the tyranny of the Turks
and expulsion from Europe of the Ottoman Empire, as being decidedly
extraneous to western civilization.
7th. The intentions of his Majesty the Emperor of Russia in regard
to Poland are clearly indicated in the proclamation addressed to his
8th. The Allies have never harboured the design of exterminating
German peoples nor of bringing about their political disappearance.
At that time the autocratic form of government still prevailed in
Russia, and the Allies still considered themselves bound to Russia's
aspirations; moreover there existed, in regard to Italy, the
obligations established by the Pact of London. That is why in the
statements of the Entente Powers of Europe the restoration of
Montenegro is regarded as an obligation; mention is made of the
necessity of driving the Turks out of Europe in order to enable Russia
to seize Constantinople; and as to Poland, there are only vague
allusions, namely, the reference made to the Tsar's intentions as
outlined in his proclamation.
The Entente has won the War, but Russia has collapsed under the
strain. Had victory been achieved without the fall of Russia, the
latter would have installed herself as the predominating Power in the
Mediterranean. On the other hand, to unite Dalmatia to Italy, while
separating her from Italy, according to the pact of London, by
assigning the territory of Fiume to Croatia, would have meant setting
all the forces of Slav irredentism against Italy.
These considerations are of no practical value inasmuch as events have
taken another course. Nobody can say what would have happened if the
Carthagenians had conquered the Romans or if victory had remained with
Mithridates. Hypotheses are of but slight interest when truth follows
another direction. Nevertheless we cannot but repeat that it was a
great fortune for Europe that victory was not decided by Russia, and
that the decisive factor proved the United States.
It is beyond all possible doubt that without the intervention of
the United States of America the War could not have been won by the
Entente. Although the admission may prove humiliating to the European
point of view, it is a fact which cannot be attenuated or disguised.
The United States threw into the balance the weight of its enormous
economic and technical resources, besides its enormous resources in
men. Although its dead only amount to fifty thousand, the United
States built up such a formidable human reserve as to deprive Germany
of all hopes of victory. The announcement of America's entry in the
War immediately crushed all Germany's power of resistance. Germany
felt that the struggle was no longer limited to Europe, and that every
effort was vain.
The United States, besides giving to the War enormous quantities of
arms and money, had practically inexhaustible reserves of men to place
in the field against an enemy already exhausted and famine-stricken.
War and battles are two very different things. Battles constitute an
essentially military fact, while war is an essentially political fact.
That explains why great leaders in war have always been first and
foremost great political leaders, namely, men accustomed to manage
other men and able to utilize them for their purposes. Alexander,
Julius Caesar, Napoleon, the three greatest military leaders produced
by Aryan civilization, were essentially political men. War is not only
a clash of arms, it is above all the most convenient exploitation of
men, of economic resources and of political situations. A battle is a
fact of a purely military nature. The Romans almost constantly placed
at the head of their armies personages of consular rank, who regarded
and conducted the war as a political enterprise. The rules of tactics
and strategy are perfectly useless if those who conduct the war fail
to utilize to the utmost all the means at their disposal.
It cannot be denied that in the War Germany and Austria-Hungary scored
the greatest number of victories. For a long period they succeeded in
invading large tracts of enemy territory and in recovering those
parts of their own territory which had been invaded, besides always
maintaining the offensive. They won great battles at the cost of
enormous sacrifices in men and lives, and for a long time victory
appeared to shine on their arms. But they failed to understand that
from the day in which the violation of Belgium's neutrality determined
Great Britain's entry in the field the War, from a general point of
view, could be regarded as lost. As I have said, Germany is especially
lacking in political sense: after Bismarck, her statesmen have never
risen to the height of the situation. Even von Buelow, who appeared
to be one of the cleverest, never had a single manifestation of real
The "banal" statements made about Belgium and the United States of
America by the men who directed Germany's war policy were precisely
the sort of thing most calculated to harm the people from whom they
came. What is decidedly lacking in Germany, while it abounds in
France, is a political class. Now a political class, consisting of
men of ability and culture, cannot but be the result of a democratic
education in all modern States, especially in those which have
achieved a high standard of civilization and development. It seems
almost incredible that Germany, despite all her culture, should
have tolerated the political dictatorship of the Kaiser and of his
At the Conferences of Paris and London, in 1919 and 1920, I did all
that was in my power to prevent the trial of the Kaiser, and I am
convinced that my firm attitude in the matter succeeded in avoiding
it. Sound common sense saved us from floundering in one of the most
formidable blunders of the Treaty of Versailles. To hold one man
responsible for the whole War and to bring him to trial, his enemies
acting as judge and jury, would have been such a monstrous travesty
of justice as to provoke a moral revolt throughout the world. On the
other hand it was also a moral monstrosity, which would have deprived
the Treaty of Versailles of every shred of dignity. If the one
responsible for the War is the Kaiser, why does the Entente demand of
the German people such enormous indemnities, unprecedented in history?
One of the men who has exercised the greatest influence on European
events during the last ten years, one of the most intelligent of
living statesmen, once told me that it was his opinion that the Kaiser
did not want the War, but neither did he wish to prevent it.
Germany, although under protest, has been forced to accept the
statement of the Versailles Treaty to the effect that she is
responsible for the War and that she provoked it. The same charge has
been levelled at her in all the Entente States throughout the War.
When our countries were engaged in the struggle, and we were at grips
with a dangerous enemy, it was our duty to keep up the _morale_ of our
people and to paint our adversaries in the darkest colours, laying on
their shoulders all the blame and responsibility of the War. But after
the great world conflict, now that Imperial Germany has fallen, it
would be absurd to maintain that the responsibility of the War is
solely and wholly attributable to Germany and that earlier than 1914
in Europe there had not developed a state of things fatally destined
to culminate in a war. If Germany has the greatest responsibility,
that responsibility is shared more or less by all the countries of the
Entente. But while the Entente countries, in spite of their mistakes,
had the political sense always to invoke principles of right and
justice, the statesmen of Germany gave utterance to nothing but brutal
and vulgar statements, culminating in the deplorable mental and moral
expressions contained in the speeches, messages and telegrams of
William II. He was a perfect type of the _miles gloriosus_, not a
harmless but an irritating and dangerous boaster, who succeeded in
piling up more loathing and hatred against his country than the most
active and intelligently managed enemy propaganda could possibly have
If the issue of the War could be regarded as seriously jeopardized
by England's intervention, it was practically lost for the Central
Empires when the United States stepped in.
America's decision definitely crippled Germany's resistance--and
not only for military, but for moral reasons. In all his messages
President Wilson had repeatedly declared that he wanted a peace
based on justice and equity, of which he outlined the fundamental
conditions; moreover, he stated that he had no quarrel with the
Germans themselves, but with the men who were at their head, and that
he did not wish to impose on the vanquished peace terms such as might
savour of oppression.
President Wilson's ideas on the subject have been embodied in a
bulky volume. Turning over the pages of this book now we have the
impression that it is a collection of literary essays by a man who had
his eye on posterity and assumed a pose most likely to attract the
admiration of generations as yet unborn. But when these same words
were uttered in the intervals of mighty battles, they fell on
expectant and anxious ears: they were regarded as a ray of light in
the fearsome darkness of uncertainty, and everybody listened to them,
not only because the President was the authorized exponent of a
great nation, of a powerful people, but because he represented an
inexhaustible source of vitality in the midst of the ravages of
violence and death. President Wilson's messages have done as much as
famine and cruel losses in the field to break the stubborn resistance
of the German people. If it was possible to obtain a just peace, why
go to the bitter end when defeat was manifestly inevitable? Obstinacy
is the backbone of war, and nothing undermines a nation's power of
resistance so much as doubt and faint-heartedness on the part of the
[Footnote 1: "President Wilson's State Speeches and Addresses," New
President Wilson, who said on January 2, 1917, that a peace without
victory was to be preferred ("It must be a peace without victory"),
and that "Right is more precious than peace," had also repeatedly
affirmed that "We have no quarrel with the German people."
He only desired, as the exponent of a great democracy, a peace which
should be the expression of right and justice, evolving from the War a
League of Nations, the first milestone in a new era of civilization, a
league destined to bind together ex-belligerents and neutrals in one.
In Germany, where the inhabitants had to bear the most cruel
privations, President Wilson's words, pronounced as a solemn pledge
before the whole world, had a most powerful effect on all classes
and greatly contributed towards the final breakdown of collective
resistance. Democratic minds saw a promise for the future, while
reactionaries welcomed any way out of their disastrous adventure.
After America's entry in the War, President Wilson, on January 8,
1918, formulated the fourteen points of his programme regarding the
finalities of the War and the peace to be realized.
It is here necessary to reproduce the original text of President
Wilson's message containing the fourteen points which constitute a
formal pledge undertaken by the democracy of America, not only towards
enemy peoples but towards all peoples of the world.
These important statements from President Wilson's message have,
strangely enough, been reproduced either incompletely or in an utterly
mistaken form even in official documents and in books published by
statesmen who took a leading part in the Paris Conference.
It is therefore advisable to reproduce the original text in full:
1st. Honest peace treaties, following loyal and honest
negotiations, after which secret international agreements will be
abolished and diplomacy will always proceed frankly and openly.
2nd. Full liberty of navigation on the high seas outside
territorial waters, both in peace and war, except when the seas be
closed wholly or in part by an international decision sanctioned
by international treaties.
3rd. Removal, as far as possible, of all economic barriers and
establishment of terms of equality in commerce among all nations
adhering to peace and associated to maintain it.
4th. Appropriate guarantees to be given and received for the
reduction of national armaments to a minimum compatible with
5th. A clear, open and absolutely impartial settlement of all
colonial rights, based on a rigorous observance of the principle
that, in the determination of all questions of sovereignty, the
interests of the populations shall bear equal weight with those of
the Government whose claims are to be determined.
6th. The evacuation of all Russian territories and a settlement
of all Russian questions such as to ensure the best and most
untrammelled co-operation of other nations of the world in
order to afford Russia a clear and precise opportunity for the
independent settlement of her autonomous political development and
of her national policy, promising her a cordial welcome in the
League of Nations under institutions of her own choice, and
besides a cordial welcome, help and assistance in all that she may
need and require. The treatment meted out to Russia by the sister
nations in the months to come must be a decisive proof of their
goodwill, of their understanding of her needs as apart from
their own interests, and of their intelligent and disinterested
7th. Belgium, as the whole world will agree, must be evacuated
and reconstructed without the slightest attempt at curtailing the
sovereign rights which she enjoys in common with other free
nations. Nothing will be more conducive to the re-establishment
of confidence and respect among nations for those laws which they
themselves have made for the regulation and observance of their
reciprocal relations. Without this salutary measure the whole
structure and validity of international law would be permanently
8th. All French territories will be liberated, the invaded regions
reconstructed, and the wrong done to France by Prussia in 1871,
in the question of Alsace-Lorraine, and which has jeopardized the
peace of the world for nearly half a century, must be made good,
so as to ensure a lasting peace in the general interest.
9th. The Italian frontier must be rectified on the basis of the
clearly recognized lines of nationality.
10th. The people of Austria-Hungary, whose place among the nations
we wish to see safeguarded and maintained, should come to an
agreement as to the best way of attaining their autonomous
11th. Rumania, Serbia and Montenegro are to be evacuated and
occupied territories restored: a free and secure access to the
sea for Serbia; mutual relations between the Balkan States to be
determined on a friendly basis by a Council, following the lines
of friendship and nationality traced by tradition and history; the
political and economic integrity of the various Balkan States to
12th. A certain degree of sovereignty must be assigned to that
part of the Ottoman Empire which is Turkish; but the other
nationalities now under the Turkish regime should have the
assurance of an independent existence and of an absolute and
undisturbed opportunity to develop their autonomy; moreover
the Dardanelles should be permanently open to the shipping and
commerce of all nations under international guarantees.
13th. An independent Polish State should be founded, comprising
all territories inhabited by peoples of undoubtedly Polish
nationality, with a free and secure access to the sea and its
political and economic independence and territorial integrity
guaranteed by international agreements.
14th. A League of Nations must be formed with special pacts and
for the sole scope of ensuring the reciprocal guarantees of
political independence and of territorial integrity, in equal
measure both for large and small States.
The Peace Treaty as outlined by Wilson would really have brought about
a just peace; but we shall see how the actual result proved quite the
reverse of what constituted a solemn pledge of the American people and
of the Entente Powers.
On February 11, 1918, President Wilson confirmed before Congress that
all territorial readjustments were to be made in the interest and for
the advantage of the populations concerned, not merely as a bargain
between rival States, and that there were not to be indemnities,
annexations or punitive exactions of any kind.
On September 27, 1918, just on the eve of the armistice, when German
resistance was already shaken almost to breaking point, President
Wilson gave it the _coup de grace_ by his message on the _post-bellum_
economic settlement. No special or separate interest of any single
nation or group of nations was to be taken as the basis of any
settlement which did not concern the common interest of all; there
were not to be any leagues or alliances, or special pacts or ententes
within the great family of the society of nations; economic deals and
corners of an egotistical nature were to be forbidden, as also all
forms of boycotting, with the exception of those applied in punishment
to the countries transgressing the rules of good fellowship; all
international treaties and agreements of every kind were to be
published in their entirety to the whole world.
It was a magnificent programme of world policy. Not only would it have
meant peace after war, but a peace calculated to heal the deep wounds
of Europe and to renovate the economic status of nations.
On the basis of these principles, which constituted a solemn pledge,
Germany, worn out by famine and even more by increasing internal
unrest, demanded peace.
According to President Wilson's clear statements, made not only in
the name of the United States but in that of the whole Entente, peace
should therefore have been based on justice, the relations between
winners and losers in a society of nations being exclusively inspired
by mutual trust.
There were no longer to be huge standing armies, neither on the
part of the ex-Central Empires or on that of the victorious States;
adequate guarantees were to be _given and received_ for the reduction
of armies to the minimum necessary for internal defence; removal of
all economic barriers; absolute freedom of the seas; reorganization
of the colonies based on the development of the peoples directly
concerned; abolition of secret diplomacy, etc.
As to the duties of the vanquished, besides evacuating the occupied
territories, they were to reconstruct Belgium, to restore to France
the territories taken in 1871; to restore all the territories
belonging to Rumania, Serbia and Montenegro, giving Serbia a free and
secure access to the sea; to constitute a free Poland with territories
_undoubtedly Polish_ to which _there might_ be granted a free and
secure access to the sea. Poland, founded on secure ethnical bases,
far from being a military State, was to be an element of peace, and
her political and economic independence and territorial integrity were
to have been guaranteed by an international agreement.
After the rectification of the Italian frontier according to the
principles of nationality, the peoples of Austria-Hungary were to
agree on the free opportunity of their autonomous development. In
other terms, each people could freely choose autonomy or throw in its
lot with some other State. After giving a certain sovereignty to the
Turkish populations of the Ottoman Empire the other nationalities were
to be allowed to develop autonomously, and the free navigation of the
Dardanelles was to be internationally guaranteed.
These principles announced by President Wilson, and already proclaimed
in part by the Entente Powers when they stoutly affirmed that they
were fighting for right, for democracy and for peace, did not
constitute a concession but a duty towards the enemy. In each of the
losing countries, in Germany as in Austria-Hungary, the democratic
groups contrary to the War, and those even more numerous which had
accepted the War as in a momentary intoxication, when they exerted
themselves for the triumph of peace, had counted on the statements, or
rather on the solemn promises which American democracy had made not
only in the name of the United States but in that of all the Entente
Let us now try to sum up the terms imposed on Germany and the other
losing countries by the treaty of June 28, 1919. The treaty, it is
true, was concluded between the allied and associated countries and
Germany, but it also concerns the very existence of other countries
such as Austria-Hungary, Russia, etc.:
I.--TERRITORIAL AND POLITICAL CLAUSES
Until the payment of an indemnity the amount of which is as yet not
definitely stated, Germany loses the fundamental characters of a
sovereign state. Not only part of her territory remains under the
occupation of the ex-enemy troops for a period of fifteen years but a
whole series of controls is established, military, administrative, on
transports, etc. The Commission for Reparations is empowered to effect
all the changes it thinks fit in the laws and regulations of the
German State, besides applying sanctions of a military and economic
nature in the event of violations of the clauses placed under its
control (Art. 240, 241).
The allied and associated governments declare and Germany recognizes
that Germany and her allies are solely responsible, being the direct
cause thereof, for all the losses and damages suffered by the allied
and associated governments and their subjects as a result of the War,
which was thrust upon them by the aggression of Germany and her allies
(Art. 231). Consequently the resources of Germany (and by the
other treaties those of her allies as well) are destined, even if
insufficient, to ensure full reparation for all losses and damages
The allied and associated Powers place in a state of public accusation
William II of Hohenzollern, ex-German Emperor, charging him with
the gravest offences against international morality and the sacred
authority of treaties. A special tribunal composed of representatives
of the five great Entente Powers shall try him and will have the
right of determining his punishment (Art. 227). The German Government
likewise recognizes the right of the allied and associated Powers to
try in their courts of justice the persons (and more especially the
officers) accused of having committed acts contrary to the rules and
customs of war.
Restitution of Alsace and Lorraine to France without any obligation
on the latter's part, not even the corresponding quota of public debt
(Art. 51 _et seq_.).
The treaties of April 19, 1839, are abolished, so that Belgium, being
no longer neutral, may become allied to France (Art. 31); attribution
to Belgium of the territories of Eupen, Malmedy and Moresnet.
Abolition of all the treaties which established political and economic
bonds between Germany and Luxemburg (Art. 40).
Annulment of all the treaties concluded by Germany during the War.
German-Austria, reduced to a little State of hardly more than
6,000,000 inhabitants, about one-third of whom live in the capital
(Art. 80), cannot become united to Germany without the consent of the
Society of Nations, and is not allowed to participate in the affairs
of another nation, namely of Germany, before being admitted to the
League of Nations (Treaty of Saint-Germain-en-Laye, Art. 88). As the
consent of the League of Nations must be unanimous, a contrary vote on
the part of France would be sufficient to prevent German-Austria from
becoming united to Germany.
Attribution of North Schleswig to Denmark (Art. 109).
Creation of the Czeko-Slovak State (Art. 87), which comprises the
autonomous territory of the Ruthenians south of the Carpathians,
Germany abandoning in favour of the new State all her rights and
claims on that part of Silesia mentioned in Art. 83.
Creation of the State of Poland (Art. 87), to whom Posnania and part
of Western Prussia are made over. Upper Silesia is to decide by a
plebiscite (Art. 88) whether it desires to be united to Germany or to
Poland. The latter, even without Upper Silesia, becomes a State of
31,000,000 inhabitants, with about fifty per cent. of the population
non-Polish, including very numerous groups of Germans.
Creation of the Free State of Danzig within the limits of Art. 100,
under the protection of the League of Nations. The city is a Free
City, but enclosed within the Polish Customs House frontiers, and
Poland has full control of the river and of the railway system.
Poland, moreover, has charge of the foreign affairs of the Free City
of Danzig and undertakes to protect its subjects abroad.
Surrender to the victors, or, to be more precise, almost exclusively
to Great Britain and France, of all the German colonies (Art. 119 and
127). The formula (Art. 119) is that Germany renounces in favour of
the leading allied and associated Powers all her territories beyond
the seas. Great Britain has secured an important share, but so has
France, receiving that part of Congo ceded in 1911, four-fifths of the
Cameroons and of Togoland.
Abandonment of all rights and claims in China, Siam, Liberia, Morocco,
Egypt, Turkey, Bulgaria and Shantung (Art. 128 and 158).
Creation of a League of Nations to the exclusion, practically, of
Germany and of the other losing countries, with the result that the
League is nothing but a juridical completion of the Commission of
Reparations. In all of the various treaties, the pact of the League of
Nations, the Covenant, left standing among the collapse of President
Wilson's other ideas and proposals, is given precedence over all other
II.--MILITARY CLAUSES AND GUARANTEES
Germany is obliged, and with her, by the subsequent treaties, all the
other losing countries, to surrender her arms and to reduce her troops
to the minimum necessary for internal defence (Art. 159 and 213). The
German army has no General Staff; its soldiers are mercenaries who
enlist for a period of ten years; it cannot be composed of more than
seven infantry and three cavalry divisions, not exceeding 100,000
men including officers: no staff, no military aviation, no heavy
artillery. The number of gendarmes and of local police can only be
increased proportionately with the increase of the population. The
maximum of artillery allowed is limited to the requirements of
internal defence. Germany is strictly forbidden to import arms,
ammunition and war material of any kind or description. Conscription
is abolished, and officers must remain with the colours at least till
they have attained the age of forty-five. No institute of science or
culture is allowed to take an interest in military questions. All
fortifications included in a line traced fifty kilometres to the east
of the Rhine are to be destroyed, and on no account may German troops
cross the said line.
Destruction of Heligoland and of the fortresses of the Kiel Canal.
Destruction under the supervision of the allied commissions of control
of all tanks, flying apparatus, heavy and field artillery, namely
35,000 guns, 160,000 machine guns, 2,700,000 rifles, besides the tools
and machinery necessary for their manufacture. Destruction of all
arsenals. Destruction of the German fleet, which must be limited to
the proportions mentioned in Art. 181.
Creation of inter-allied military commissions of control to supervise
and enforce the carrying out of the military and naval clauses, at the
expense of Germany and with the right to install themselves in the
seat of the central government.
Occupation as a guarantee, for a period of fifteen years after the
application of the treaty, of the bridgeheads and of the territories
now occupied west of the Rhine (Art. 428 and 432). If, however, the
Commission of Reparations finds that Germany refuses wholly or in part
to fulfil her treaty obligations, the zones specified in Article
421 will be immediately occupied by the troops of the allied and
III.--FINANCIAL AND ECONOMIC CLAUSES
The principle being recognized that Germany alone is responsible for
the War which she willed and which she imposed on the rest of the
world, Germany is bound to give complete and full reparation within
the limits specified by Art. 232. The amount of the damages for which
reparation is due will be fixed by the Commission of Reparations,
consisting of the representatives of the winning countries.
The coal fields of the Saar are to be handed over, in entire and
absolute ownership, free of all liens and obligations, to France, in
compensation for the destruction of the coal mines in the north of
France. Before the War, in 1913, the output of the Saar basin amounted
to 17,000,000 tons. The Saar is incorporated in the French douane
system and after fifteen years will be submitted to a plebiscite.
Germany may not charge heavier duties on imports from allied countries
than on those from any other country. This treatment of the most
favoured nation to be extended to all allied and associated States
does not imply the obligation of reciprocity (Art. 264). A similar
limitation is placed on exports, on which no special duty may be
Exports from Alsace and Lorraine into Germany to be exempt from duty,
without right of reciprocity (Art. 268).
Germany delivers to the Allies all the steamers of her mercantile
fleet of over I,600 tons, half of those between 1,000 and I,600 tons,
and one-fourth of her fishing vessels. Moreover, she binds herself to
build at the request of the Allies every year, and for a period of
five years, 200,000 tons of shipping, as directed by the Allies, and
the value of the new constructions will be credited to her by the
Commission of Reparations (Part viii, 3).
Besides giving up all her colonies, Germany surrenders all her rights
and claims on her possessions beyond the seas (Art. 119), and all
the contracts and conventions in favour of German subjects for the
construction and exploiting of public works, which will be considered
as part payment of the reparations due. The private property of
Germans in the colonies, as also the right of Germans to live and
work there, come under the free jurisdiction of the victorious States
occupying the colonies, and which reserve unto themselves the right to
confiscate and liquidate all property and claims belonging to Germans
(Art. 121 and 297).
The private property of German citizens residing in Alsace-Lorraine is
subject to the same treatment as that of residents in the ex-German
colonies. The French Government may confiscate without granting any
compensation the private property of Germans and of German concerns in
Alsace-Lorraine, and the sums thus derived will be credited towards
the partial settlement of eventual French claims (Art. 53 and 74).
The property of the State and of local bodies is likewise surrendered
without any compensation whatever. The allies and associates reserve
the right to seize and liquidate all property, claims and interests
belonging, at the date of the ratification of the treaty, to
German citizens or to firms controlled by them, situated in their
territories, colonies, possessions and protectorates, including the
territories surrendered in accordance with the clauses of the treaty
Germany loses everything with the exception of her territory:
colonies, possessions, rights, commercial investments, etc.
After giving the Saar coal fields in perpetual ownership to France in
reparation of the temporary damages suffered by the French coal mines,
the treaty goes on to establish the best ways and means to deprive
Germany, in the largest measure possible, of her coal and her iron.
The Saar coal fields have been handed over to France absolutely, while
the war damages of the French mines have been repaired or can be
repaired in a few years. Upper Silesia being subject to the plebiscite
with the occupation of the allied troops, Germany must have lost
several of her most important coal fields had the plebiscite gone
Germany is forced to deliver in part reparation to France 7,000,000
tons of coal a year for ten years, besides a quantity of coal equal
to the yearly _ante-bellum_ output of the coal mines of the North of
France and of the Pas-de-Calais, which were entirely destroyed during
the War; the said quantity not to exceed 20,000,000 tons in the first
five years and 8,000,000 tons during the five succeeding years (Part
viii, 5). Moreover, Germany must give 8,000,000 tons to Belgium for a
period of ten years, and to Italy a quantity of coal which, commencing
at 4,500,000 tons for the year 1919-1920, reaches the figure of
8,500,000 tons in the five years after 1923-1924. To Luxemburg Germany
must provide coal in the same average quantity as in pre-war times.
Altogether Germany is compelled to hand over to the winners as part
reparation about 25,000,000 tons of coal a year.
For three years Polish exports to Germany, and for five years exports
from Luxemburg into Germany, will be free of all duty, without right
of reciprocity (Art. 268).
The Allies have the right to adopt, on the territories left of the
Rhine and occupied by their troops, a special customs regime both as
regards imports and exports (Art. 270).
After having surrendered, as per Par. 7 of the armistice terms,
5,000 locomotives and 150,000 trucks and carriages with all their
accessories and fittings (Art. 250), Germany must hand over the
railway systems of the territories she has lost, with all the rolling
stock in a good state of preservation, and this measure applies even
to Prussian Poland occupied by Germany during the War (Art. 371).
The German transport system is placed under control, and the
administration of the Elbe, the Rhine, the Oder, the Danube, owing to
the fact that they pass through more than one state and give access
to the sea, is entrusted to inter-allied commissions. In all these
commissions Germany is represented by a small minority. France
and Great Britain, who are not directly interested, have numerous
representatives on all the important river commissions, while on the
Rhine commission Germany has only four votes out of nineteen (Art. 382
to 337). A privilege of first degree is established on all production
and resources of the German States to ensure the payment of
reparations and other charges specified by the treaty (Art. 248).
The total cost of the allied and associated armies will be borne by
Germany, including the upkeep of men and beasts, pay and lodging,
heating, clothing, etc., and even veterinary services, motor lorries
and automobiles. All these expenses must be reimbursed in gold marks
The privilege, as per Art. 248 of the treaty, is to be applied in the
(a) Reimbursement of expenses for the armies of occupation during
the armistice and after the peace treaty.
(b) Payment of the reparations as established by the treaty or
treaties or supplementary conventions.
(c) Other expenses deriving from the armistice terms, from the peace
treaty and from other supplementary terms and conventions (Art. 251).
Restitution, on the basis of an estimate presented sixty days after
the application of the treaty by the Commission of Reparations, of the
live stock stolen or destroyed by the Germans and necessary for the
reconstruction of the invaded countries, with the right to exact from
Germany, as part reparations, the delivery of machinery, heating
apparatus, furniture, etc.
Reimbursement to Belgium of all the sums loaned to her by the allied
and associated Powers during the War.
Compensation for the losses and damages sustained by the civilian
population of the allied and associated Powers during the period in
which they were at war with Germany (Art. 232 and Part viii, I).
Payment, during the first two years, of twenty milliard marks in
gold or by the delivery of goods, shipping, etc., on account of
compensation (Art. 235).
The reparations owed by Germany concern chiefly:
1st. Damages and loss of life and property sustained by the civilian
2nd. Damages sustained by civilian victims of cruelty, violence or
3rd. Damages caused on occupied or invaded territories.
4th. Damages through cruelty to and ill-treatment of prisoners of war.
5th. Pensions and compensations of all kinds paid by the allied and
associated Powers to the military victims of the War and to their
6th. Subsidies paid by the allied and associated Powers to the
families and other dependents of men having served in the army, etc.,
etc. (Part viii, I). These expenses, which have been calculated
at varying figures, commencing from 350 billions, have undergone
I have given the general lines of the Treaty of Versailles.
The other treaties, far less important, inasmuch as the situation
of all the losing countries was already well defined, especially as
regards territorial questions, by the Treaty of Versailles, are cast
in the same mould and contain no essential variation.
Now these treaties constitute an absolutely new fact, and no one can
affirm that the Treaty of Versailles derives even remotely from the
declarations of the Entente and from Wilson's solemn pledges uttered
in the name of those who took part in the War.
If the terms of the armistice were deeply in contrast with the pledges
to which the Entente Powers had bound themselves before the whole
world, the Treaty of Versailles and the other treaties deriving
therefrom are a deliberate negation of all that had been promised,
amounting to a debt of honour, and which had contributed much more
powerfully towards the defeat of the enemy than the entry in the field
of many fresh divisions.
In the state of extreme exhaustion in which both conquerors and losers
found themselves in 1918, in the terrible suffering of the Germanic
group of belligerents, deprived for four years of sufficient
nourishment and of the most elementary necessaries of life, in the
moral collapse which had taken the place of boasting and temerity, the
words of Wilson, who pledged himself to a just peace and established
its terms, proclaiming them to the world, had completely broken down
whatever force of resistance there still remained. They were the most
powerful instruments of victory, and if not the essential cause,
certainly not the least important among the causes which brought about
the collapse of the Central Empires.
Germany had been deeply hit by the armistice. Obliged to hand over
immediately 5,000 locomotives and 150,000 railway trucks and carriages
at the very time when she had to demobilize, during the first months
she found her traffic almost completely paralysed.
Every war brings virulent germs of revolution in the vanquished
countries. The war of 1870 gave France the impulsive manifestations of
_La Commune_ in exactly the same manner as war gave rise in Germany
during the first months after the armistice to a violent revolutionary
crisis, overcome not without difficulty and still representing a grave
Forced to surrender immediately a large quantity of live stock, to
demobilize when the best part of her railway material had gone, still
hampered by the blockade, Germany, against the interest of the Allies
themselves, has been obliged to sacrifice her exchange because, in the
absence of sufficient help, she has had to buy the most indispensable
foodstuffs in neutral countries. Her paper currency, which at the
end of 1918 amounted to twenty-two milliard marks, not excessive as
compared with that of other countries, immediately increased with a
growing crescendo till it reached, in a very short time, the figure of
eighty-eight milliards, thus rendering from the very first the payment
of indemnities in gold extremely difficult.
The most skilled men have been thrust into an absolute impossibility
of producing. To have deprived Germany of her merchant fleet, built up
with so much care, means to have deprived the freight market of sixty
thousand of the most skilled, intelligent and hard-working seamen.
But what Germany has lost as a result of the treaty surpasses all
imagination and can only be regarded as a sentence of ruin and decay
voluntarily passed over a whole people.
Germany, without taking into account the countries subject to
plebiscite, has lost 7.5 per cent. of her population. Should the
plebiscites prove unfavourable to her, or, as the tendency seems to
be, should these plebiscites be disregarded, Germany would lose 13.5
per cent. of her population. Purely German territories have been
forcibly wrenched from her. What has been done in the case of the
Saar has no precedents in modern history. It is a country of 650,000
inhabitants of whom not even one hundred are French, a country which
has been German for a thousand years, and which was temporarily
occupied by France for purely military reasons. In spite of these
facts, however, not only have the coal fields of the Saar been
assigned in perpetuity to France as compensation for the damages
caused to the French mines in the North, but the territory of the Saar
forms part of the French customs regime and will be subjected after
fifteen years to a plebiscite, when such a necessity is absolutely
incomprehensible, as the population is purely German and has never
in any form or manner expressed the intention of changing its
The ebb and flow of peoples in Europe during the long war of
nationalities has often changed the situation of frontier countries.
Sometimes it may still be regarded as a necessity to include small
groups of alien race and language in different states in order to
ensure strategically safe frontiers. But, with the exception of the
necessity for self-defence, there is nothing to justify what has been
done to the detriment of Germany.
Wilson had only said that France should receive compensation for
the wrong suffered in 1871 and that Belgium should be evacuated and
reconstructed. What had been destroyed was to have been built up
again; but no one had ever thought during the War of handing over to
Belgium a part, however small, of German territory or of surrendering
predominantly and purely German territories to Poland.
The German colonies covered an area of nearly 3,000,000 square
kilometres; they had reached an admirable degree of development and
were managed with the greatest skill and ability. They represented an
enormous value; nevertheless they have been assigned to France, Great
Britain and in minor proportion to Japan, without figuring at all in
the reparations account.
It is calculated that as a result of the treaty, owing to the loss
of a considerable percentage of her agricultural area, Germany is
twenty-five per cent. the poorer in regard to the production of
cereals and potatoes and ten to twelve per cent. in regard to the
breeding of live stock.
The restitution of Alsace-Lorraine (the only formal claim advanced by
the Entente in its war programme) has deprived Germany of the bulk of
her iron-ore production. In 1913 Germany could count on 21,000,000
tons of iron from Lorraine, 7,000,000 from Luxemburg, 138,000 from
Upper Silesia and 7,344 from the rest of her territory. This means
that Germany is reduced to only 20.41 per cent. of her pre-war wealth
in iron ore.
In 1913 the Saar district represented 8.95 per cent. of the total
production of coal, and Upper Silesia 22.85 per cent.
Having lost about eighty per cent. of her iron ore and large stocks
of coal, while her production is severely handicapped, Germany,
completely disorganized abroad after the suppression of all economic
equilibrium, is condemned to look on helplessly while the very sources
of her national wealth dry up and cease to flow. In order to form a
correct estimate of the facts we must hold in mind that one-fifth of
Germany's total exports before the War consisted of iron and of tools
and machinery mostly manufactured with German iron.
If we now consider the fourteen points of President Wilson, accepted
by the Entente as a peace programme, comparing the actual results
obtained by the Treaty of Versailles, we are faced with the following
1. "_After loyal peace negotiations and the conclusion and signing
of peace treaties, secret diplomatic agreements must be regarded as
abolished_," says Wilson. On the contrary, secret peace negotiations
have been protracted for more than six months, and no hearing was even
granted to the German delegates who wished to expose their views. By a
system of treaties France has created a military alliance with Belgium
and Poland, thus completely cornering Germany.
2. _Absolute freedom of the sea beyond territorial waters_. Nothing,
as a matter of fact, has been changed from the pre-war state of
things; with the difference that the losers have had to surrender
their mercantile fleets and are therefore no longer directly
interested in the question.
3. _Removal of all economic barriers and equality of trade
conditions_. The treaty imposes on Germany terms without reciprocity,
and almost all Entente countries have already adopted protectionist
and prohibitive tariffs.
4. _Adequate guarantees to be given and received for the reduction of
armaments to a minimum compatible with home defence_. The treaties
have compelled the vanquished countries to destroy or to surrender
their navies, and have reduced the standing armies of Germany to
100,000 men, including officers, of Bulgaria to 23,000, of Austria to
30,000 (in reality only 21,000), of Hungary to 35,000. The conquering
states, on the other hand, maintain enormous armies numerically
superior to those which they had before the War. France, Belgium
and Poland have between them about 1,400,000 men with the colours.
Germany, Austria, Hungary and Bulgaria altogether have only 179,000
men under arms, while Rumania alone has 206,000 and Poland more than
5. _Loyal and straightforward settlement of colonial rights and
claims, based chiefly on the advantage of the peoples directly
concerned_. All her colonies have been taken from Germany, who needed
them more than any other country of continental Europe, having a
density of population of 123 inhabitants per square kilometre (Italy
has a density of 133 per square kilometre) while France has 74, Spain
40, and European Russia before the War had only 24.
6. _Evacuation of all Russian territories and cordial co-operation for
the reconstruction and development of Russia_. For a long time the
Entente has given its support to the military ventures of Koltchak,
Judenic, Denikin and Wrangel, all men of the old regime.
7. _Evacuation and reconstruction of Belgium_. This has been done, but
to Belgium have been assigned territories which she never dreamt of
claiming before the War.
8. _Liberation of French territories, reconstruction of invaded
regions and restitution of Alsace-Lorraine to France in respect of
the territories taken from her in 1871_. France occupies a dominating
position in the Saar which constitutes an absolute denial of the
principle of nationality.
9. _Rectification of the Italian frontier, according to clearly
defined lines of nationality_. As these lines have never been clearly
defined or recognized, the solution arrived at has been distasteful
both to the Italians and to their neighbours.
10. _The peoples of Austria-Hungary to be left free to unite together
or to form autonomous states in the manner best suited to their
development_. As a matter of fact the treaties have taken the greatest
possible number of Germans from Austria and of Magyars from Hungary in
order to hand them over to Poland, to Czeko-Slovakia, to Rumania and
to Jugo-Slavia, namely to populations for the most part inferior to
11. _Evacuation of Rumania, Serbia and Montenegro_. This has been
effected, but whereas the Entente Powers have always proclaimed their
fundamental duty for the reconstruction of Montenegro, they all
contributed to its disappearance, chiefly at the instigation of
12. _A limited sovereignty to the Turkish parts of the Ottoman Empire,
liberation of other nationalities and freedom of navigation in the
Dardanelles placed under international guarantees_. What really
happened was that the Entente Powers immediately tried to possess
themselves of Asia Minor; but events rendered it necessary to adopt
a regime of mandates because direct sovereignty would have been too
perilous an experiment. A sense of deep perturbation and unrest
pervades the whole of Islam.
13. _An independent Polish state with populations undoubtedly Polish
to be founded as a neutral State with a free and secure outlet to the
sea and whose integrity is to be guaranteed by international accords_.
In reality a Polish state has been formed with populations undoubtedly
non-Polish, having a markedly military character and aiming at further
expansion in Ukranian and German territory. It has a population of
31,000,000 inhabitants while it should not exceed 18,000,000, and
proposes to isolate Russia from Germany. Moreover the Free State of
Danzig, practically dependent from Poland, constitutes a standing
menace to Germany.
14. _Foundation of the League of Nations for the sole purpose
of re-establishing order among nations, and laying the basis of
reciprocal guarantees of territorial integrity and political
independence for all states, both great and small_. After more than
two years have elapsed since the conclusion of peace and three since
the armistice the League of Nations is still nothing but a holy
alliance the object of which is to guarantee the privileges of the
conquerors. After the vote of the Senate, deserving of all praise
from every point of view, the United States does not form part of the
League nor do the losing countries, including Germany.
It is therefore obvious that the most solemn pledges on which peace
was based have not been maintained; the noble declarations made by the
Entente during the War have been forgotten; forgotten all the solemn
collective pledges; forgotten and disregarded Wilson's proclamations
which, without being real contracts or treaties, were something far
more solemn and binding, a pledge taken before the whole world at its
most tragic hour to give the enemy a guarantee of justice.
Without expressing any opinion on the treaties it cannot be denied
that the manner in which they have been applied has been even worse.
For the first time in civilized Europe, not during the War, when
everything was permissible in the supreme interests of defence, but
now that the War is over, the Entente Powers, though maintaining
armies more numerous than ever, for which the vanquished must pay,
have occupied German territories, inhabited by the most cultured,
progressive and technically advanced populations in the world, as an
insult and a slight, with coloured troops, men from darkest and most
barbarous Africa, to act as defenders of the rights of civilization
and to maintain the law and order of democracy.
THE PEACE TREATIES--THEIR ORIGIN AND AIMS
How, after the solemn pledges undertaken during the War, a peace could
have been concluded which practically negatives all the principles
professed during the War and all the obligations entered into, is
easily explained when the progress of events is noted from the autumn
of 1918 to the end of the spring of 1919. I took no direct part in
those events, as I had no share in the government of Italy from
January to the end of June, 1919, the period during which the Treaties
of Versailles and Saint-Germain-en-Laye were being prepared. The
Orlando Ministry was resigning when the Treaty of Versailles was drawn
up for signature, and the situation which confronted the Ministry
of which I was head was clearly defined. Nevertheless I asked the
Minister of Foreign Affairs and the delegates of the preceding Cabinet
to put their signatures to it. Signing was a necessity, and it fell to
me later on to put my signature to the ratification.
The Treaty of Versailles and those which have followed with Austria,
Hungary, Bulgaria and Turkey have been validly signed, and they pledge
the good faith of the countries which have signed them. But in the
application of them there is need of great breadth of view; there is
need of dispassionate study to see if they can be maintained, if the
fulfilment of the impossible or unjust conditions demanded of the
conquered countries will not do more harm to the conquerors, will not,
in point of actual fact, pave the way to their ruin.
If there is one thing, Lloyd George has said, which will never be
forgotten or forgiven, it is arrogance and injustice in the hour
of triumph. We have never tired of saying that Germany is the most
barbarous among civilized countries, that under her civilization
is hidden all the barbarism of mediaeval times, that she puts into
practice the doctrine of might over right. At the present moment it is
our duty to ask ourselves if something of the principles which we have
for so long been attributing to Germany has not passed over to the
other side, if in our own hearts there is not a bitterness of hatred
clouding our judgment and robbing our programme of all action that can
do real good.
Prussia won the war against Austria-Hungary in 1866, and did not ask
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