Peaceless Europe
Francesco Saverio Nitti

Part 2 out of 5

for or impose any really onerous terms. It was contented with having
regained hegemony among the German people. Prussia conquered France
in 1870. It was an unjust war, and Prussia laid down two unjust
conditions: Alsace-Lorraine and the indemnity of five milliards. As
soon as the indemnity was paid--and it was an indemnity that could be
paid in one lump sum--Prussia evacuated the occupied territory. It did
not claim of France its colonies or its fleet, it did not impose the
reduction of its armaments or control of its transport after the
peace. The Treaty of Frankfort is a humanitarian act compared with the
Treaty of Versailles.

If Germany had won the War--Germany to whom we have always attributed
the worst possible intentions--what could it have done that the
Entente has not done? It is possible that, as it is gifted with more
practical common sense, it might have laid down less impossible
conditions in order to gain a secure advantage without ruining the
conquered countries.

There are about ninety millions of Germans in Europe, and perhaps
fifteen millions in different countries outside Europe. But in the
heart of Europe they represent a great ethnic unity; they are the
largest and most compact national group in that continent. With all
the good and bad points of their race, too methodical and at the same
time easily depressed by a severe setback, they are still the most
cultivated people on earth. It is impossible to imagine that they can
disappear, much less that they can reconcile themselves to live in a
condition of slavery. On the other hand, the Entente has built on a
foundation of shifting sand a Europe full of small States poisoned
with imperialism and in ruinous conditions of economy and finance, and
a too great Poland without a national basis and necessarily the enemy
of Russia and of Germany.

No people has always been victorious; the peoples who have fought most
wars in modern Europe, English, French and Germans, have had
alternate victories and defeats. A defeat often carries in its train
reconsideration which is followed by renewed energy: the greatness of
England is largely due to its steadfast determination to destroy the
Napoleonic Empire. What elevates men is this steadfast and persevering
effort, and a series of such collective efforts carries a nation to a
high place.

There is nothing lasting in the existing groupings. At the moment of
common danger eternal union and unbreakable solidarity are proclaimed;
but both are mere literary expressions.

Great Britain, the country which has the least need to make war, has
been at war for centuries with nearly all the European countries.
There is one country only against which it has never made war, not
even when a commercial challenge from the mercantile Republics of
Italy seemed possible. That country is Italy. That shows that between
the action of Italy there is not, nor can there be, contrast, and
indeed that between the two nations there is complete agreement in
European continental policy. It is the common desire of the two
nations, though perhaps for different reasons, that no one State shall
have hegemony on the continent. But between the years 1688 and 1815
Great Britain and France were at war for seventy years: for seventy
years, that is, out of a hundred and twenty-seven there was a state of
deadly hostility between the two countries.

General progress, evinced in various ways, above all in respect for
and in the autonomy of other peoples, is a guarantee for all. No
peoples are always victorious, none always conquered. In the time of
Napoleon the First the French derided the lack of righting spirit
in the German peoples, producers of any number of philosophers
and writers. They would have laughed at anyone who suggested the
possibility of any early German military triumph. After 1815 the
countries of the Holy Alliance would never have believed in the
possibility of the revolutionary spirit recovering; they were sure of
lasting peace in Europe. In 1871 the Germans had no doubt at all that
they had surely smothered France; now the Entente thinks that it has
surely smothered Germany.

But civilization has gained something: it has gained that collection
of rules, moral conditions, sentiments, international regulations,
which tend both to mitigate violence and to regulate in a form which
is tolerable, if not always just, relations between conquerors and
conquered, above all, a respect for the liberty and autonomy of the

Now, the treaties which have been made are, from the moral point of
view, immeasurably worse than any consummated in former days, in that
they carry Europe back to a phase of civilization which was thought
to be over and done with centuries ago. They are a danger too. For
as everyone who takes vengeance does so in a degree greater than the
damage suffered, if one supposes for a moment that the conquered
of to-day may be the conquerors of to-morrow, to what lengths of
violence, degradation and barbarism may not Europe be dragged?

Every effort, then, should now be made to follow the opposite road to
that traversed up to now, the more so in that the treaties cannot be
carried out; and if it is desired that the conquered countries shall
pay compensation to the conquerors, at least in part, for the most
serious damage, then the line to be followed must be based on
realities instead of on violence.

But before trying to see how and why the treaties cannot be carried
out, it may be well to consider how the actual system of treaties
has been reached, in complete opposition to all that was said by the
Entente during the War and to President Wilson's fourteen points. At
the same time ought to be examined the causes which led in six months
from the declarations of the Entente and of President Wilson to the
Treaty of Versailles.

The most important cause for what has happened was the choice of Paris
as the meeting-place of the Conference. After the War Paris was the
least fitted of any place for the holding of a Peace Conference, and
in the two French leaders, the President of the Republic, Poincare,
and the President of the Council of Ministers, Clemenceau, even if the
latter was more adaptable in mind and more open to consideration of
arguments on the other side, were two temperaments driving inevitably
to extremes. Victory had come in a way that surpassed all expectation;
a people that, living through every day the War had lasted, had passed
through every sorrow, privation, agony, had now but one thought, to
destroy the enemy. The atmosphere of Paris was fiery. The decision of
the peace terms to be imposed on the enemy was to be taken in a city
which a few months before, one might really say a few weeks before,
had been under the fire of the long-range guns invented by the
Germans, in hourly dread of enemy aeroplanes. Even now it is
inexplicable that President Wilson did not realize the situation
which must inevitably come about. It is possible that the delirium of
enthusiasm with which he was received at Paris may have given him the
idea that it was in him alone that the people trusted, may have made
him take the welcome given to the representative of the deciding
factor of the War as the welcome to the principles which he had
proclaimed to the world. Months later, when he left France amid
general indifference if not distrust, President Wilson must have
realized that he had lost, not popularity, but prestige, the one sure
element of success for the head of a Government, much more so for the
head of a State. It was inevitable that a Peace Conference held
in Paris, only a few months after the War, with the direction and
preparation of the work almost entirely in French hands and with
Clemenceau at the head of everything, should conclude as it did
conclude; all the more so when Italy held apart right from the
beginning, and England, though convinced of the mistakes being made,
could not act freely and effectively.

The first duty of the Peace Conference was to restore a state of
equilibrium and re-establish conditions of life. Taking Europe as an
economic unity, broken by the War, it was necessary first of all and
in the interests of all to re-establish conditions of life which would
make it possible for the crisis to be overcome with the least possible

I do not propose to tell the story of the Conference, and it is as
well to say at once that I do not intend to make use of any document
placed in my hands for official purposes. But the story of the Paris
Conference can now be told with practical completeness after what
has been published by J.M. Keynes in his noble book on the Economic
Consequences of the War and by the American Secretary of State, Robert
Lansing, and after the statements made in the British and French
Parliaments by Lloyd George and Clemenceau. But from the political
point of view the most interesting document is still Andre Tardieu's
book _La Paix_, to which Clemenceau wrote a preface and which
expresses, from the point of view of the French Delegation at the
Conference, the programme which France laid before itself and what it
obtained. This book explains how the principal decisions were taken,
and indeed can be fairly considered to show in a more reliable way
than any other publication extant how the work of the Conference
proceeded. For not only was M. Tardieu one of the French Delegates to
the Conference, one of those who signed the Versailles Treaty, but
also he prepared the plan of work as well as the solutions of the most
important questions in his capacity of trusted agent of the Prime

The determination in the mind of President Wilson when he came to
Paris was to carry through his programme of the League of Nations. He
was fickle in his infallibility, but he had the firmest faith that he
was working for the peace of the world and above all for the glory of
the United States. Of European things he was supremely ignorant. We
are bound to recognize his good faith, but we are not in the least
bound on that account to admit his capacity to tackle the problems
which with his academic simplicity he set himself to solve. When he
arrived in Europe he had not even prepared in outline a scheme of what
the League of Nations was to be; the principal problems found him
unprepared, and the duty of the crowd of experts (sometimes not too
expert) who followed him seemed rather to be to demonstrate the
truth of his idea than to prepare material for seriously thought out

He could have made no greater mistake than he did in coming to Europe
to take part in the meetings of the Conference. His figure lost relief
at once, in a way it seemed to lose dignity. The head of a State was
taking part in meetings of heads of Governments, one of the latter
presiding. It was a giant compelled to live in a cellar and thereby
sacrificing his height. He was surrounded by formal respect and in
some decisions he exercised almost despotic authority, but his work
was none the less disordered; there was a semblance of giving in to
him while he was giving away his entire programme without being aware
of it.

In his ignorance of European things he was brought, without
recognizing it, to accept a series of decisions not superficially in
opposition to his fourteen points but which did actually nullify them.

Great Britain is part of Europe but is not on the Continent of Europe.
While Germany, France, Italy, Austria, Russia, Hungary, Holland,
Belgium, etc., live the same life, are one in thought, Great Britain
lives in her superb insularity. If she had any moment of supreme
anxiety during the War, it was in the spring and summer of 1917 during
the terrible threat of the destruction of her shipping by submarines
and the inability of construction to keep pace with it. But after
the defeat of Germany Great Britain found herself with a fleet far
superior to those of all the rest of Europe put together; once more
she broke away from Continental Europe.

Lloyd George, with swiftly acting brain and clear insight, undoubtedly
the most remarkable man at the Paris Conference, found himself in a
difficult situation between President Wilson's pronouncements, some
of them, like that regarding the freedom of the seas, undefined and
dangerous, and the claims of France tending, after the brutal attack
it had had to meet, not towards a true peace and the reconstruction of
Europe, but towards the vivisection of Germany. In one of the first
moments, just before the General Elections, Lloyd George, too,
promised measures of the greatest severity, the trial of the Kaiser,
the punishment of all guilty of atrocities, compensation for all who
had suffered from the War, the widest and most complete indemnity. But
such pronouncements gave way before his clear realization of facts,
and later on he tried in vain to put the Conference on the plane of
such realization.

Italy, as M. Tardieu says very plainly, carried no weight in the
Conference. In the meetings of the Prime Ministers and President
Wilson _le ton etait celui de la conversation; nul apparat, nulle
pose. M. Orlando parlait peu; l'activite de l'Italie a la conference
a ete, jusqu'a l'exces, absorbee par la question de Fiume, et sa part
dans les debats a ete de ce fait trop reduite. Restait un dialogue a
trois: Wilson, Clemenceau, Lloyd George_. The Italian Government came
into the War in May, 1915, on the basis of the London Agreement of the
preceding April, and it had never thought of claiming Fiume either
before the War when it was free to lay down conditions or during the
progress of the War.

The Italian people had always been kept in ignorance of the principles
established in the London Agreement. One of the men chiefly
responsible for the American policy openly complained to me that when
the United States came into the War no notification was given them of
the London Agreement in which were defined the future conditions
of part of Europe. A far worse mistake was made in the failure to
communicate the London Agreement to Serbia, which would certainly have
accepted it without hesitation in the terrible position in which it
then was.

But the most serious thing of all was that Italian Ministers were
unaware of its provisions till after its publication in London by the
organ of the Jugo-Slavs, which had evidently received the text from
Petrograd, where the Bolsheviks had published it. In Italy the London
Agreement was a mystery to everyone; its text was known only to the
Presidents of the Council and the Minister for Foreign Affairs of the
War Cabinets. Thus only four or five people knew about it, secrecy was
strictly kept, and, moreover, it cannot possibly be said that it was
in accordance either with national ideals or the currents of public
opinion, much less with any intelligent conception of Italy's needs
and Italy's future.

The framers of the London Agreement never thought of Fiume. Indeed
they specifically expressed their willingness that it should go to
Croatia, whether in the case of Austria-Hungary remaining united or of
the detachment of Croatia from it. It is not true that it was through
the opposition of Russia or of France that the Italian framers of the
London Agreement gave up all claim to Fiume. There was no opposition
because there was no claim. The representatives of Russia and France
have told me officially that no renunciation took place through any
action on the part of their Governments, because no claim was ever
made to them. On the other hand, after the armistice, and when it
became known through the newspapers that the London Agreement gave
Fiume to Croatia, a very strong movement for Fiume arose, fanned by
the Government itself, and an equally strong movement in Fiume also.

If, in the London Agreement, instead of claiming large areas of
Dalmatia which are entirely or almost entirely Slav, provision had
been made for the constitution of a State of Fiume placed in a
condition to guarantee not only the people of Italian nationality but
the economic interests of all the peoples in it and surrounding it,
there is no doubt that such a claim on the part of Italy would have
gone through without opposition.

During the Paris Conference the representatives of Italy showed hardly
any interest at all in the problems concerning the peace of Europe,
the situation of the conquered peoples, the distribution of raw
materials, the regulation of the new states and their relations with
the victor countries. They concentrated all their efforts on the
question of Fiume, that is to say on the one point in which Italian
action was fundamentally weak in that, when it was free to enter into
the War and lay down conditions of peace, at the moment when the
Entente was without America's invaluable assistance and was beginning
to doubt the capacity of Russia to carry on, it had never even asked
for Fiume in its War Treaty, that it had made the inexplicable mistake
of neglecting to communicate that treaty to the United States when
that country came into the War and to Serbia at the moment when
Italy's effort was most valuable for its help. At the conference Italy
had no directing policy. It had been a part of the system of
the German Alliance, but it had left its Allies, Germany and
Austria-Hungary, because it recognized that the War was unjust, and
had remained neutral for ten months. Then, entering into the War
freely and without obligation, there was one road for it to follow,
that of proclaiming solemnly and defending the principles of democracy
and justice. Indeed, that was a moral duty in that the break with the
two countries with which Italy had been in alliance for thirty-three
years became a matter not only of honesty but of duty solely through
the injustice of the cause for which they had proclaimed an offensive
war. It was not possible for Italy to go to war to realize the dream
of uniting the Italian lands to the nation, for she had entered the
system of Alliance of the Central Empires and had stayed there long
years while having all the time Italian territories unjustly subjected
to Austria-Hungary. The annexation of the Italian lands to the
Kingdom of Italy had to be the consequence of the affirmation of the
principles of nationality, not the reason for going to war. In any
case, for Italy, which had laid on itself in the London Agreement
the most absurd limitations, which had confined its war aims within
exceedingly modest limits, which had no share in the distribution
of the wealth of the conquered countries, which came out of the War
without raw materials and without any share in Germany's colonial
empire, it was a matter not only of high duty but of the greatest
utility to proclaim and uphold all those principles which the Entente
had so often and so publicly proclaimed as its war policy and its war
aims. But in the Paris Conference Italy hardly counted. Without any
definite idea of its own policy, it followed France and the United
States, sometimes it followed Great Britain. There was no affirmation
of principles at all. The country which, among all the European
warring Powers, had suffered most severely in proportion to its
resources and should have made the greatest effort to free itself
from the burdens imposed on it, took no part in the most important
decisions. It has to be added that these were arrived at between March
24 and May 7, while the Italian representatives were absent from Paris
or had returned there humbled without having been recalled.

After interminable discussions which decided very little, especially
with regard to the League of Nations which arose before the nations
were constituted and could live, real vital questions were tackled, as
is seen from the report of the Conference, on March 24, and it is a
fact that between that date and May 7 the whole treaty was put in
shape: territorial questions, financial questions, economic questions,
colonial questions. Now, at that very moment, on account of the
question of Fiume and Fiume alone, for some inscrutable reason the
Italian delegates thought good to retire from the Conference, to which
they returned later without being invited, and during that time all
the demonstrations against President Wilson took place in Italy, not
without some grave responsibility on the part of the government. Italy
received least consideration in the peace treaties among all the
conquering countries. It was practically put on one side.

It has to be noted that both in the armistice and in the peace treaty
the most serious decisions were arrived at almost incidentally;
moreover they were always vitiated by slight concessions apparently
of importance. On November 2, 1917, when the representatives of the
different nations met at Paris to fix the terms of armistice, M.
Tardieu relates, the question of reparation for damages was decided
quite incidentally. It is worth while reproducing what he says in his
book, taken from the official report:

M. CLEMENCEAU: _Je voudrais venir maintenant sur la question des
reparations et des tonnages. On ne comprenderait pas chez nous, en
France, que nous n'inscrivions pas dans l'armistice une clause a
cet effet. Ce que je vous demande c'est l'addition de trois mots:
"Reparations des dommages" sans autre commentaire.

Le dialogue suivant s'etablit_:

M. HYMANS: _Cela serait-il une condition d'armistice_?

M. SONNINO: _C'est plutot une condition de paix_.

M. BONAR LAW: _Il est inutile d'inserer dans les conditions
d'armistice une clause qui ne pourrait etre executee dans un bref

M. CLEMENCEAU: _Je ne veux que mentionner le principe. Vous ne devez
pas oublier que la population francaise est une de celles qui ont
le plus souffert. Elle ne comprendrait pas que nous ne fissions pas
allusion a cette clause_.

M. LLOYD GEORGE: _Si vous envisages le principe des reparations sur
terre, il faut mentionner aussi celui des reparations pour les navires

M. CLEMENCEAU: _Je comprends tout cela dans mes trois mots,
"Reparations des dommages." Je supplie le Conseil de se mettre dans
l'esprit de la population francaise...._

M. VESSITCH: _Et serbe_....

M. HYMANS: _Et belge_....

M. SONNINO: _Et italienne aussi_....

M. HOUSE: _Puisqu'est une question importante pour tous, je propose
l'addition de M. Clemenceau_.

M. BONAR LAW: _C'est deja dit dans notre lettre au President Wilson,
qui la comuniquera a l'Allemagne. Il est inutile de la dire deux

M. ORLANDO: _J'accepte en principe, quoiqu'il n'en ait pas ete fait
mention dans les conditions de l'armistice avec l'Autriche_.

_L'addition "Reparations des dommages" est alors adoptee. M. Klotz
propose de mettre en tete de cette addition les mots: "Sous reserve
de toutes revendications et restaurations ulterieures de la part des
Allies et des Etats-Unis." Il est ainsi decide_.

If I were at liberty to publish the official report of the doings of
the Conference while the various peace treaties were being prepared,
as MM. Poincare and Tardieu have published secret acts, it would be
seen that the proceedings were very much the same in every case.
Meanwhile we may confine ourselves to an examination of the report as
given by M. Tardieu.

The question of reparation of damages was not a condition of the
armistice. It had not been accepted. Clemenceau brings the question up
again solely in homage to French public opinion. The suggestion is to
write in simply the three words: _Reparation of damages_. It is true
that these three words determine a policy, and that there is no
mention of it in the claims of the Entente, in the fourteen points
of President Wilson, or in the armistice between Italy and
Austria-Hungary. In his fourteen points Wilson confined himself, in
the matter of damages, to the following claims: (1) Reconstruction
of Belgium, (2) Reconstruction of French territory invaded, (3)
Reparation for territory invaded in Serbia, Montenegro and Rumania.
There is no other claim or statement in the fourteen points. On the
other hand the pronouncement, "_Reparation des dommages_," included,
as in fact was afterwards included, any claim for damage by land or

The representatives of Belgium, Italy and Great Britain remark that it
is a condition of peace, not of armistice. But Clemenceau makes it
a question of regard and consideration for France. France would not
understand there being no mention of it; there was no desire to define
anything, only just to mention it, and in three simple words. "I ask
you," says Clemenceau, "to put yourselves into the spirit of the
people of France." At once the British representative notes the
necessity of a clear statement regarding reparations for losses at sea
through submarines and mines; and all, the Serbian, the Belgian and,
last of all, the Italian, at once call attention to their own damages.
Mr. House, not realizing the wide and serious nature of the claim,
says that it is an important question for all, while America had
already stated, in the words of the President of the Republic, that it
renounced all indemnity of any nature whatsoever.

So was established, quite incidentally, the principle of indemnity for
damages which gave the treaty a complete turn away from the spirit
of the pronouncements by the Entente and the United States. Equally
incidentally were established all the declarations in the treaty, the
purpose of which is not easy to understand except in so far as it is
seen in the economic results which may accrue.

Article 231 of the Treaty of Versailles states that the allied and
associated governments affirm, and Germany accepts, the responsibility
of Germany and her allies for causing all the loss and damage to which
the allied and associated governments and their peoples have been
subjected as a consequence of the War imposed on them by the
aggression of Germany and her allies.

Article 177 of the Treaty of Saint-Germain-en-Laye states in the
same way that the allied and associated governments affirm, and
Austria-Hungary accepts, the responsibility of Austria and her allies,

This article is common to all the treaties, and it would have no more
than historic and philosophic interest if it were not followed by
another article in which the allied and associated governments
recognize that the resources of Germany (and of Austria-Hungary, etc.)
are not adequate, after taking into account permanent diminutions of
such resources which will result from other provisions of the present
treaty, to make complete reparation for all such loss and damage.
The allied and associated governments, however, require, and Germany
undertakes, that she will make compensation for all damage done to the
civilian population of the allied and associated powers and to their
property during the period of the belligerency of each as an allied or
associated power against Germany by such aggression by land, by sea
and from the air, and in general all damage as defined in the treaty,
comprising many of the burdens of war (war pensions and compensations
to soldiers and their families, cost of assistance to families of
those mobilized during the War, etc.).

There is nothing more useless, indeed more stupid, than to take your
enemy by the throat after you have beaten him and force him to declare
that all the wrong was on his side. The declaration is of no use
whatever, either to the conqueror, because no importance can be
attributed to an admission extorted by force; or to the conquered,
because he knows that there is no moral significance in being forced
to state what one does not believe; or for third parties, because they
are well aware of the circumstances under which the declaration was
made. It is possible that President Wilson wanted to establish a moral
reason--I do not like to say a moral alibi--for accepting, as he was
constrained by necessity to accept, all those conditions which were
the negation of what he had solemnly laid down, the moral pledge of
his people, of the American democracy.

Germany and the conquered countries have accepted the conditions
imposed on them with the reserve that they feel that they are not
bound by them, even morally, in the future. The future will pour
ridicule on this new form of treaty which endeavours to justify
excessive and absurd demands, which will have the effect of destroying
the enemy rather than of obtaining any sure benefit, by using a forced
declaration which has no value at all.

I have always detested German imperialism, and also the phases of
exaggerated nationalism which have grown up in every country after the
War and have been eliminated one after the other through the simple
fact of their being common to all countries, but only after having
brought the greatest possible harm to all the peoples, and I cannot
say that Germany and her allies were solely responsible for the War
which devastated Europe and threw a dark shadow over the life of the
whole world. That statement, which we all made during the War, was a
weapon to be used at the time; now that the War is over, it cannot be
looked on as a serious argument.

An honest and thorough examination of all the diplomatic documents,
all the agreements and relations of pre-war days, compels me to
declare solemnly that the responsibility for the War does not lie
solely on the defeated countries; that Germany may have desired
war and prepared for it under the influence of powerful industrial
interests, metallurgic, for instance, responsible for the extreme
views of newspapers and other publications, but still all the warring
countries have their share of responsibility in differing degree. It
cannot be said that there existed in Europe two groups with a moral
conception differing to the point of complete contrast; on one side,
Germany, Austria-Hungary, Turkey and Bulgaria, responsible for the
War, which they imposed by their aggression; on the other, all the
free and independent nations. By the side of England, France, Italy
and the United States there was Russia, which must bear, if not the
greatest, a very great responsibility for what happened. Nor is it
true that armament expenses in the ten years preceding the War were
greater in the Central Empires, or, to put it better, in the States
forming the Triple Alliance, than in the countries which later formed
the European Entente.

It is not true that only in the case of Germany were the war aims
imperialist, and that the Entente countries came in without desire of
conquest. Putting aside for the moment what one sees in the treaties
which have followed the War, it is worth while considering what would
have happened if Russia had won the War instead of being torn to
pieces before victory came. Russia would have had all the Poland of
the eighteenth century (with the apparent autonomy promised by the
Tsar), nearly all Turkey in Europe, Constantinople, and a great part
of Asia Minor. Russia, with already the greatest existing land empire
and at least half the population not Russian, would have gained
fresh territories with fresh non-Russian populations, putting the
Mediterranean peoples, and above all Italy, in a very difficult
situation indeed.

It cannot be said that in the ten years preceding the War Russia did
not do as much as Germany to bring unrest into Europe. It was on
account of Russia that the Serbian Government was a perpetual cause
of disturbance, a perpetual threat to Austria-Hungary. The unending
strife in the Balkans was caused by Russia in no less degree than
by Austria-Hungary, and all the great European nations shared, with
opposing views, in the policy of Eastern expansion.

The judgment of peoples and of events, given the uncertainty of policy
as expressed in parliament and newspapers, is variable to the last
degree. It will be enough to recall the varying judgment upon Serbia
during the last ten years in the Press of Great Britain, France and
Italy: the people of Serbia have been described as criminals and
heroes, assassins and martyrs. No one would have anything to do with
Serbia; later Serbia was raised to the skies.

The documents published by Kautsky in Germany and those revealed from
time to time by the Moscow Government prove that the preparation for
and conviction of war was not only on the part of the Central Empires,
but also, and in no less degree, on the part of the other States. One
point will always remain inexplicable: why Russia should have taken
the superlatively serious step of general mobilization, which could
not be and was not a simple measure of precaution. It is beyond doubt
that the Russian mobilization preceded even that of Austria. After
a close examination of events, after the bitter feeling of war had
passed, in his speech of December 23, 1920, Lloyd George said justly
that the War broke out without any Government having really desired
it; all, in one way or another, slithered into it, stumbling and

There were three Monarchies in Europe, the Russian, German, and
Austro-Hungarian Empires, and the fact that they were divided into
two groups necessarily led to war. It was inevitable sooner or later.
Russia was the greatest danger, the greatest threat to Europe; what
happened had to happen under one form or another. The crazy giant was
under the charge of one man without intelligence and a band of men,
the men of the old regime, largely without scruples.

Each country of Europe has its share of responsibility, Italy not
excluded. It is difficult to explain why Italy went to Tripoli in the
way in which she did in 1911, bringing about the Italo-Turkish war,
which brought about the two Balkan wars and the policy of adventure of
Serbia, which was the incident though not the cause of the European

The Libyan adventure, considered now in the serene light of reason,
cannot be looked on as anything but an aberration. Libya is an immense
box of sand which never had any value, nor has it now. Tripolitania,
Cyrenaica and Fezzan cover more than one million one hundred
thousand square kilometres and have less than nine hundred thousand
inhabitants, of whom even now, after ten years, less than a third are
under the effective control of Italy. With the war and expenses of
occupation, Libya has cost Italy about seven milliard lire, and for a
long time yet it will be on the debit side in the life of the nation.
With the same number of milliards, most of which were spent before the
European War, Italy could have put in order and utilized her immense
patrimony of water-power and to-day would be free from anxiety about
the coal problem by which it is actually enslaved. The true policy
of the nation was to gain economic independence, not a barren waste.
Ignorant people spoke of Libya in Italy as a promised land; in one
official speech the King was even made to say that Libya could absorb
part of Italian emigration. That was just a phenomenon of madness,
for Libya has no value at all from the agricultural, commercial or
military point of view. It may pay its way one day, but only if all
expenses are cut down and the administrative system is completely
changed. It may be that, if only from a feeling of duty towards the
inhabitants, Italy cannot abandon Libya now that she has taken it, but
the question will always be asked why she did take it, why she took
it by violence when a series of concessions could have been obtained
without difficulty from the Turkish Government.

The Libyan enterprise, undertaken on an impulse, against the opinion
of Italy's allies, Austria and Germany, against the wish of England
and France, is a very serious political responsibility for Italy.

The European War was the consequence of a long series of movements,
aspirations, agitations. It cannot be denied, and it is recognized by
clear-thinking men like Lloyd George, that France and England too
have by their actions taken on themselves their part in the serious
responsibility. To say that in the past they had never thought of
war is to say a thing not true. And there is no doubt that all the
diplomatic documents published before and during the War show in
Russia, above all, a situation which inevitably would soon lead to
war. In the Balkans, especially in Serbia, Russia was pursuing a
cynical and shameless policy of corruption, nourishing and exciting
every ferment of revolt against Austria-Hungary. Russian policy in
Serbia was really criminal. Everyone in Germany was convinced that
Russia was preparing for war. The Tsar's pacificist ideas were of no
importance whatever. In absolute monarchies it is an illusion to think
that the sovereign, though apparently an autocrat, acts in accordance
with his own views. His views are almost invariably those of the
people round him; he does not even receive news in its true form, but
in the form given it by officials. Russia was an unwieldy giant who
had shown signs of madness long before the actual revolution. It
is impossible that a collective madness such as that which has had
possession of Russia for three years could be produced on the spur of
the moment; the regime of autocracy contained in itself the germs
of Bolshevism and violence. Bolshevism cannot properly be judged by
Western notions; it is not a revolutionary movement of the people; it
is, as I have said before, the religious fanaticism of the Eastern
Orthodox rising from the dead body of Tsarist despotism. Bolshevism,
centralizing and bureaucratic, follows the same lines as the imperial
policy of almost every Tsar.

Undoubtedly the greatest responsibility for the War lies on Germany.
If it has not to bear all the responsibility, as the treaties claim,
it has to bear the largest share; and the responsibility lies, rather
than on the shoulders of the Emperor and the quite ordinary men
who surrounded him, on those of the military caste and some great
industrial groups. The crazy writings of General von Bernhardi and
other scandalous publications of the same sort expressed, more than
just theoretical views, the real hopes and tendencies of the whole
military caste. It is true enough that there existed in Germany a real
democratic society under the control of the civil government, but
there was the military caste too, with privileges in social life and a
special position in the life of the State. This caste was educated in
the conception of violence as the means of power and grandeur. When a
country has allowed the military and social theories of General von
Bernhardi and the senselessly criminal pronouncements of the Emperor
William II to prevail for so many years, it has put the most
formidable weapons possible into the hands of its enemies. The people
who governed Germany for so long have no right to complain now of the
conditions in which their country is placed. But the great German
people, hardworking and persevering, has full right to look on such
conditions as the negation of justice. The head of a European State, a
man of the clearest view and calmest judgment, speaking to me of the
Emperor William, of whose character and intellect he thought very
little, expressed the view that the Emperor did not want war, but that
he would not avoid it when he had the chance.

The truth is that Germany troubled itself very little about France.
Kinderlen Waechter, the most intelligent of the German Foreign
Ministers, and perhaps the one most opposed to the War, when he
outlined to me the situation as it was ten years ago, showed no
anxiety at all except in regard to Russia. Russia might make war, and
it was necessary to be ready or to see that it came about at a moment
when victory was certain if conditions did not change. Germany had no
reason at all for making war on France from the time that it had got
well ahead of that country in industry, commerce and navigation. It
is true that there were a certain number of unbalanced people in the
metal industry who talked complacently of French iron and stirred up
the yellow press, just as in France to-day there are many industrials
with their eyes fixed on German coal which they want to seize as far
as possible. But the intellectuals, the politicians, even military
circles, had no anxiety at all except with regard to Russia.

There were mistaken views in German policy, no doubt, but at the same
time there was real anxiety about her national existence. With a huge
population and limited resources, with few colonies, owing to her
late arrival in the competition for them, Germany looked on the
never-ceasing desire of Russia for Constantinople as the ruin of her
policy of expansion in the East.

And in actual fact there was but one way by which the three great
Empires, which in population and extension of territory dominated
the greater part of Europe, could avoid war, and that was to join in
alliance among themselves or at least not to enter other alliances.
The three great Empires divided themselves into two allied groups.
From that moment, given the fact that in each of them the military
caste held power, that the principal decisions lay in the hands of a
few men not responsible to parliament; given the fact that Russia,
faithful to her traditional policy, aimed to draw into her political
orbit all the Slav peoples right down to the Adriatic and the Aegean
and Austria, was leaning toward the creation of a third Slav monarchy
in the dual kingdom, it was inevitable that sooner or later the
violence, intrigue and corruption with which we are familiar should
culminate in open conflict. Bismarck always saw that putting Russia
and Germany up against each other meant war.

Peoples, like individuals, are far from representing with anything
approaching completeness such social conceptions as we call violence
and right, honesty and bad faith, justice and injustice; each people
has its different characteristics, but no one people represents good,
or another bad, no one represents brutality, or another civilization.
All these meaningless phrases were brought out during the War,
according to which, as was said by one of the Prime Ministers of the
Entente, the War was the decisive struggle between the forces of
autocracy and liberty, between the dark powers of evil and violence
and the radiant powers of good and right. To-day all this causes
nothing but a smile. Such things are just speechifying, and banal at
that. Perhaps they were a necessity of War-time which might well be
made use of; when you are fighting for your very life you use every
means you have; when you are in imminent danger you do not choose your
weapons, you use everything to hand. All the War propaganda against
the German Empires, recounting, sometimes exaggerating, all the crimes
of the enemy, claiming that all the guilt was on the side of Germany,
describing German atrocities as a habit, almost a characteristic of
the German people, deriding German culture as a species of liquid
in which were bred the microbes of moral madness--all this was
legitimate, perhaps necessary, during the War. The reply to the
asphyxiating gas of the enemy was not only the same gas, but a
propaganda calculated to do more damage, and which, in fact, did do as
much damage as tanks and blockade.

But, when war is over, nothing should be put into a peace treaty
except such things as will lead to a lasting peace, or the most
lasting peace compatible with our degree of civilization.

On January 22, 1917, President Wilson explained the reasons why he
made the proposal to put an end to the War; he said in the American
Senate that the greatest danger lay in a peace imposed by conquerors
after victory. At that time it was said that there must be neither
conquerors nor conquered. A peace imposed after victory would be the
cause of so much humiliation and such intolerable sacrifices for the
conquered side, it would be so severe, it would give rise to so much
bitter feeling that it would not be a lasting peace, but one founded
on shifting sand.

In the spring of 1919, just before the most serious decisions were to
be taken, Lloyd George put before the conference a memorandum entitled
"_Some considerations for the Peace Conference before they finally
draft their terms_."

With his marvellously quick insight, after having listened to the
speeches of which force was the leading motive (the tendency round him
was not to establish a lasting peace but to vivisect Germany), Lloyd
George saw that it was not a true peace that was being prepared.

On March 25, 1919, Lloyd George presented the following memorandum to
the conference:


When nations are exhausted by wars in which they have put forth all
their strength and which leave them tired, bleeding and broken, it is
not difficult to patch up a peace that may last until the generation
which experienced the horrors of the war has passed away. Pictures
of heroism and triumph only tempt those who know nothing of the
sufferings and terrors of war. It is therefore comparatively easy to
patch up a peace which will last for thirty years.

What is difficult, however, is to draw up a peace which will not
provoke a fresh struggle when those who have had practical experience
of what war means have passed away. History has proved that a
peace which has been hailed by a victorious nation as a triumph of
diplomatic skill and statesmanship, even of moderation, in the long
run has proved itself to be short-sighted and charged with danger to
the victor. The peace of 1871 was believed by Germany to ensure not
only her security but her permanent supremacy. The facts have shown
exactly the contrary. France itself has demonstrated that those who
say you can make Germany so feeble that she will never be able to hit
back are utterly wrong. Year by year France became numerically weaker
in comparison with her victorious neighbour, but in reality she became
ever more powerful. She kept watch on Europe; she made alliance with
those whom Germany had wronged or menaced; she never ceased to warn
the world of its danger, and ultimately she was able to secure the
overthrow of the far mightier power which had trampled so brutally
upon her. You may strip Germany of her colonies, reduce her armaments
to a mere police force and her navy to that of a fifth-rate power; all
the same, in the end, if she feels that she has been unjustly treated
in the peace of 1919, she will find means of exacting retribution from
her conquerors. The impression, the deep impression, made upon the
human heart by four years of unexampled slaughter will disappear with
the hearts upon which it has been marked by the terrible sword of the
Great War. The maintenance of peace will then depend upon there
being no causes of exasperation constantly stirring up the spirit of
patriotism, of justice or of fair play to achieve redress. Our terms
may be severe, they may be stern and even ruthless, but at the same
time they can be so just that the country on which they are imposed
will feel in its heart that it has no right to complain. But
injustice, arrogance, displayed in the hour of triumph, will never be
forgotten nor forgiven.

For these reasons I am, therefore, strongly averse to transferring
more Germans from German rule to the rule of some other nation than
can possibly be helped. I cannot conceive any greater cause of future
war than that the German people, who have certainly proved themselves
one of the most vigorous and powerful races in the world, should be
surrounded by a number of small states, many of them consisting of
people who have never previously set up a stable government for
themselves, but each of them containing large masses of Germans
clamouring for reunion with their native land. The proposal of the
Polish Commission that we should place 2,100,000 Germans under the
control of a people of a different religion and which has never proved
its capacity for stable self-government throughout its history, must,
in my judgment, lead sooner or later to a new war in the East of
Europe. What I have said about the Germans is equally true about the
Magyars. There will never be peace in South-Eastern Europe if every
little state now coming into being is to have a large Magyar Irredenta
within its borders.

I would therefore take as a guiding principle of the peace that as
far as is humanly possible the different races should be allocated
to their motherlands, and that this human criterion should have
precedence over considerations of strategy or economics or
communications, which can usually be adjusted by other means.

Secondly, I would say that the duration for the payments of reparation
ought to disappear if possible with the generation which made the war.

But there is a consideration in favour of a long-sighted peace which
influences me even more than the desire to leave no causes justifying
a fresh outbreak thirty years hence. There is one element in the
present condition of nations which differentiates it from the
situation as it was in 1815. In the Napoleonic Wars the countries were
equally exhausted, but the revolutionary spirit had spent its force
in the country of its birth, and Germany had satisfied the legitimate
popular demands for the time being by a series of economic changes
which were inspired by courage, foresight and high statesmanship. Even
in Russia the Tsar had effected great reforms which were probably
at that time even too advanced for the half-savage population. The
situation is very different now. The revolution is still in its
infancy. The extreme figures of the Terror are still in command in
Russia. The whole of Europe is filled with the spirit of revolution.
There is a deep sense not only of discontent, but of anger and revolt
among the workmen against pre-war conditions. The whole existing
order, in its political, social and economic aspects is questioned by
the masses of the population from one end of Europe to the other. In
some countries, like Germany and Russia, the unrest takes the form of
open rebellion, in others, like France, Great Britain and Italy, it
takes the shape of strikes and of general disinclination to settle
down to work, symptoms which are just as much concerned with the
desire for political and social change as with wage demands.

Much of this unrest is healthy. We shall never make a lasting peace by
attempting to restore the conditions of 1914. But there is a danger
that we may throw the masses of the population throughout Europe into
the arms of the extremists, whose only idea for regenerating mankind
is to destroy utterly the whole existing fabric of society. These
men have triumphed in Russia. They have done so at a terrible price.
Hundreds and thousands of the population have perished. The railways,
the roads, the towns, the whole structural organization of Russia has
been almost destroyed, but somehow or other they seem to have managed
to keep their hold upon the masses of the Russian people, and what is
much more significant, they have succeeded in creating a large army
which is apparently well directed and well disciplined, and is, as to
a great part of it, prepared to die for its ideals. In another year
Russia, inspired by a new enthusiasm, may have recovered from her
passion for peace and have at her command the only army eager to
fight, because it is the only army that believes that it has any cause
to fight for.

The greatest danger that I see in the present situation is that
Germany may throw in her lot with Bolshevism and place her resources,
her brains, her vast organizing power at the disposal of the
revolutionary fanatics whose dream it is to conquer the world for
Bolshevism by force of arms. This danger is no mere chimera. The
present government in Germany is weak; its authority is challenged; it
lingers merely because there is no alternative but the Spartacists,
and Germany is not ready for Spartacism, as yet. But the argument
which the Spartacists are using with great effect at this very time is
that they alone can save Germany from the intolerable conditions which
have been bequeathed her by the War. They offer to free the German
people from indebtedness to the Allies and indebtedness to their own
richer classes. They offer them complete control of their own affairs
and the prospect of a new heaven and earth. It is true that the price
will be heavy. There will be two or three years of anarchy, perhaps
of bloodshed, but at the end the land will remain, the people will
remain, the greater part of the houses and the factories will remain,
and the railways and the roads will remain, and Germany, having thrown
off her burdens, will be able to make a fresh start.

If Germany goes over to the Spartacists it is inevitable that she
should throw in her lot with the Russian Bolshevists. Once that
happens all Eastern Europe will be swept into the orbit of the
Bolshevik revolution, and within a year we may witness the spectacle
of nearly three hundred million people organized into a vast red army
under German instructors and German generals, equipped with German
cannon and German machine guns and prepared for a renewal of the
attack on Western Europe. This is a prospect which no one can face
with equanimity. Yet the news which came from Hungary yesterday shows
only too clearly that this danger is no fantasy. And what are the
reasons alleged for this decision? They are mainly the belief that
large numbers of Magyars are to be handed over to the control of
others. If we are wise, we shall offer to Germany a peace, which,
while just, will be preferable for all sensible men to the alternative
of Bolshevism. I would therefore put it in the forefront of the peace
that once she accepts our terms, especially reparation, we will open
to her the raw materials and markets of the world on equal terms with
ourselves, and will do everything possible to enable the German people
to get upon their legs again. We cannot both cripple her and expect
her to pay.

Finally, we must offer terms which a responsible government in Germany
can expect to be able to carry out. If we present terms to Germany
which are unjust, or excessively onerous, no responsible government
will sign them; certainly the present weak administration will not.
If it did, I am told that it would be swept away within twenty-four
hours. Yet if we can find nobody in Germany who will put his hand to
a peace treaty, what will be the position? A large army of occupation
for an indefinite period is out of the question. Germany would not
mind it. A very large number of people in that country would welcome
it, as it would be the only hope of preserving the existing order of
things. The objection would not come from Germany, but from our own
countries. Neither the British Empire nor America would agree to
occupy Germany. France by itself could not bear the burden of
occupation. We should therefore be driven back on the policy of
blockading the country. That would inevitably mean Spartacism from the
Urals to the Rhine, with its inevitable consequence of a huge red army
attempting to cross the Rhine. As a matter of fact, I am doubtful
whether public opinion would allow us deliberately to starve Germany.
If the only difference between Germany and ourselves were between
onerous terms and moderate terms, I very much doubt if public opinion
would tolerate the deliberate condemnation of millions of women and
children to death by starvation. If so, the Allies would have incurred
the moral defeat of having attempted to impose terms on Germany which
Germany had successfully resisted.

From every point of view, therefore, it seems to me that we ought
to endeavour to draw up a peace settlement as if we were impartial
arbiters, forgetful of the passions of the war. This settlement ought
to have three ends in view.

First of all it must do justice to the Allies, by taking into account
Germany's responsibility for the origin of the War, and for the way in
which it was fought.

Secondly, it must be a settlement which a responsible German
government can sign in the belief that it can fulfil the obligations
it incurs.

Thirdly, it must be a settlement which will contain in itself no
provocations for future wars, and which will constitute an alternative
to Bolshevism, because it will commend itself to all reasonable
opinion as a fair settlement of the European problem.


It is not, however, enough to draw up a just and far-sighted peace
with Germany. If we are to offer Europe an alternative to Bolshevism
we must make the League of Nations into something which will be both
a safeguard to those nations who are prepared for fair dealing with
their neighbours and a menace to those who would trespass on the
rights of their neighbours, whether they are imperialist empires or
imperialist Bolshevists. An essential element, therefore, in the
peace settlement is the constitution of the League of Nations as the
effective guardian of international right and international liberty
throughout the world. If this is to happen the first thing to do is
that the leading members of the League of Nations should arrive at an
understanding between themselves in regard to armaments. To my mind
it is idle to endeavour to impose a permanent limitation of armaments
upon Germany unless we are prepared similarly to impose a limitation
upon ourselves. I recognize that until Germany has settled down
and given practical proof that she has abandoned her imperialist
ambitions, and until Russia has also given proof that she does not
intend to embark upon a military crusade against her neighbours, it
is essential that the leading members of the League of Nations should
maintain considerable forces both by land and sea in order to preserve
liberty in the world. But if they are to present a united front to the
forces both of reaction and revolution, they must arrive at such an
agreement in regard to armaments among themselves as would make it
impossible for suspicion to arise between the members of the League
of Nations in regard to their intentions towards one another. If the
League is to do its work for the world it will only be because the
members of the League trust it themselves and because there are no
rivalries and jealousies in the matter of armaments between them. The
first condition of success for the League of Nations is, therefore, a
firm understanding between the British Empire and the United States
of America and France and Italy, that there will be no competitive
building up of fleets or armies between them. Unless this is arrived
at before the Covenant is signed the League of Nations will be a sham
and a mockery. It will be regarded, and rightly regarded, as a proof
that its principal promoters and patrons repose no confidence in its
efficacy. But once the leading members of the League have made it
clear that they have reached an understanding which will both secure
to the League of Nations the strength which is necessary to enable
it to protect its members and which at the same time will make
misunderstanding and suspicion with regard to competitive armaments
impossible between them its future and its authority will be assured.
It will then be able to ensure as an essential condition of peace that
not only Germany, but all the smaller States of Europe, undertake to
limit their armaments and abolish conscription. If the small nations
are permitted to organize and maintain conscript armies running each
to hundreds of thousands, boundary wars will be inevitable, and all
Europe will be drawn in. Unless we secure this universal limitation we
shall achieve neither lasting peace nor the permanent observance of
the limitation of German armaments which we now seek to impose.

I should like to ask why Germany, if she accepts the terms we consider
just and fair, should not be admitted to the League of Nations, at
any rate as soon as she has established a stable and democratic
government? Would it not be an inducement to her both to sign the
terms and to resist Bolshevism? Might it not be safer that she should
be inside the League than that she should be outside it?

Finally, I believe that until the authority and effectiveness of the
League of Nations has been demonstrated, the British Empire and the
United States ought to give France a guarantee against the possibility
of a new German aggression. France has special reason for asking for
such a guarantee. She has twice been attacked and twice invaded by
Germany in half a century. She has been so attacked because she has
been the principal guardian of liberal and democratic civilization
against Central European autocracy on the continent of Europe. It is
right that the other great Western democracies should enter into an
undertaking which will ensure that they stand by her side in time to
protect her against invasion should Germany ever threaten her again,
or until the League of Nations has proved its capacity to preserve the
peace and liberty of the world.


If, however, the Peace Conference is really to secure peace and prove
to the world a complete plan of settlement which all reasonable men
will recognize as an alternative preferable to anarchy, it must deal
with the Russian situation. Bolshevik imperialism does not merely
menace the States on Russia's borders. It threatens the whole of Asia,
and is as near to America as it is to France. It is idle to think that
the Peace Conference can separate, however sound a peace it may have
arranged with Germany, if it leaves Russia as it is to-day. I do not
propose, however, to complicate the question of the peace with Germany
by introducing a discussion of the Russian problem. I mention it
simply in order to remind ourselves of the importance of dealing with
it as soon as possible.

The memorandum is followed by some proposals entitled "General Lines
of the Peace Conditions," which would tend to make the peace less
severe. It is hardly worth while reproducing them. As in many points
the decisions taken were in the opposite sense it is better not to go
beyond the general considerations.

Mr. Lloyd George's memorandum is a secret document. But as the English
and American Press have already printed long passages from it, it
is practically possible to give it in its entirety without adding
anything to what has already been printed.

M. Tardieu has published M. Clemenceau's reply, drawn up by M. Tardieu
himself and representing the French point of view:


The French Government is in complete agreement with the general
purpose of Mr. Lloyd George's Note: to make a lasting peace, and for
that reason a just peace.

But, on the other hand, it does not think that this principle, which
is its own, really leads to the conclusions arrived at in the Note in


The Note suggests that the territorial conditions laid down for
Germany in Europe shall be moderate in order that she may not feel
deeply embittered after peace.

The method would be sound if the recent War had been nothing but a
European war for Germany; but that is not the case.

Previous to the War Germany was a great world Power whose _future
was on the sea_. This was the power of which she was so inordinately
proud. For the loss of this world power she will never be consoled.

The Allies have taken from her--or are going to take from her--without
being deterred by fear of her resentment, all her colonies, all her
ships of war, a great part of her commercial fleet (as reparations),
the foreign markets which she controlled.

That is the worst blow that could be inflicted on her, and it is
suggested that she can be pacified by some improvements in territorial
conditions. That is a pure illusion. The remedy is not big enough for
the thing it is to cure.

If there is any desire, for general reasons, to give Germany some
satisfaction, it must not be sought in Europe. Such help will be vain
as long as Germany has lost her world policy.

To pacify her (if there is any interest in so doing) she must have
satisfaction given her in colonies, in ships, in commercial expansion.
The Note of March 26 thinks of nothing but satisfaction in European


Mr. Lloyd George fears that unduly severe territorial conditions
imposed on Germany will play into the hands of Bolshevism. Is there
not cause for fear, on the other hand, that the method he suggests
will have that very result?

The Conference has decided to call into being a certain number of new
States. Is it possible without being unjust to them to impose on them
inacceptable frontiers towards Germany? If these people--Poland and
Bohemia above all--have resisted Bolshevism up to now it is through
national sentiment. If this sentiment is violated Bolshevism will find
an easy prey in them, and the only existing barrier between Russian
and German Bolshevism will be broken.

The result will be either a Confederation of Eastern and Central
Europe under the direction of a Bolshevik Germany or the enslavery of
those countries to a Germany become reactionary again, thanks to the
general anarchy. In either case the Allies will have lost the War.

The policy of the French Government, on the other hand, is to give
the fullest aid to those young peoples with the support of everything
liberal in Europe, and not to try to introduce at their expense
abatements--which in any case would be useless--of the colonial, naval
and commercial disaster which the peace imposes on Germany.

If it is necessary, in giving these young peoples frontiers without
which they cannot live, to transfer under their sovereignty some
Germans, sons of the men who enslaved them, we may regret the
necessity, and we should do it with moderation, but it cannot be

Further, when all the German colonies are taken from her entirely and
definitely, because she ill-treated the natives, what right is there
to refuse normal frontiers to Poland and Bohemia because Germans
installed themselves in those countries as precursors of the tyrant


The Note of March 26 insists on the necessity of a peace which will
appear to Germany as a just peace, and the French Government agrees.

It may be observed, however, that, given the German mentality, their
conception of justice may not be the same as that of the Allies.

And, also, surely the Allies as well as Germany, even before Germany,
should feel this impression of justice. The Allies who fought together
should conclude the War with a peace equal for all.

Now, following the method suggested in the Note of March 26, what will
be the result?

A certain number of total and definite guarantees will be given to
maritime nations whose countries were not invaded.

Total and definite, the surrender of the German colonies.

Total and definite, the surrender of the German war fleet.

Total and definite, the surrender of a large part of the German
commercial fleet.

Total and lasting, if not definite, the exclusion of Germany from
foreign markets.

For the Continental countries, on the other hand--that is to say, for
the countries which have suffered most from the War--would be reserved
partial and transitory solutions:

Partial solution, the modified frontiers suggested for Poland and

Transitory solution, the defensive pledge offered France for the
protection of her territory.

Transitory solution, the regime proposed for the Saar coal.

There is an evident inequality which might have a bad influence on
the after-war relations among the Allies, more important than the
after-war relations of Germany with them.

It has been shown in Paragraph I that it would be an illusion to hope
that territorial satisfaction offered to Germany would compensate
her sufficiently for the world disaster she has suffered. And it may
surely be added that it would be an injustice to lay the burden of
such compensation on the shoulders of those countries among the Allies
which have had to bear the heaviest burden of the War.

After the burdens of the War, these countries cannot bear the burdens
of the peace. It is essential that they should feel that the peace is
just and equal for all.

And unless that be assured it is not only in Central Europe that there
will be fear of Bolshevism, for nowhere does it propagate so easily,
as has been seen, as amid national disillusionment.


The French Government desires to limit itself for the moment to these
observations of a general character. It pays full homage to the
intentions which inspired Mr. Lloyd George's memorandum. But it
considers that the inductions that can be drawn from the present Note
are in consonance with justice and the general interests.

And those are the considerations by which the French Government will
be inspired in the coming exchange of ideas for the discussion of
conditions suggested by the Prime Minister of Great Britain.

These two documents are of more than usual interest.

The British Prime Minister, with his remarkable insight, at once notes
the seriousness of the situation. He sees the danger to the peace
of the world in German depression. Germany oppressed does not mean
Germany subjected. Every year France becomes numerically weaker,
Germany stronger. The horrors of war will be forgotten and the
maintenance of peace will depend on the creation of a situation which
makes life possible, does not cause exasperation to come into public
feeling or into the just claims of Germans desirous of independence.
Injustice in the hour of triumph will never be pardoned, can never be

So the idea of handing over to other States numbers of Germans is not
only an injustice, but a cause of future wars, and what can be said
of Germans is also true of Magyars. No cause of future wars must be
allowed to remain. Putting millions of Germans under Polish rule--that
is, under an inferior people which has never shown any capacity for
stable self-government--must lead to a new war sooner or later. If
Germany in exasperation became a country of revolution, what would
happen to Europe? You can impose severe conditions, but that does not
mean that you can enforce them; the conditions to be imposed must be
such that a responsible German Government can in good faith assume the
obligation of carrying them out.

Neither Great Britain nor the United States of America can assume
the obligation of occupying Germany if it does not carry out the
excessively severe conditions which it is desired to impose. Can
France occupy Germany alone?

From that moment Lloyd George saw the necessity of admitting Germany
into the League of Nations _at once_, and proposed a scheme of treaty
containing conditions which, while very severe, were in part tolerable
for the German people.

Clemenceau's reply, issued a few days later, contains the French point
of view, and has an ironical note when it touches on the weak points
in Lloyd George's argument. The War, says the French note, was not a
European war; Germany's eyes were fixed on world power, and she
saw that her future was on the sea. There is no necessity to show
consideration regarding territorial conditions in Europe. By taking
away her commercial fleet, her colonies and her foreign markets more
harm is done to Germany than by taking European territory. To pacify
her (if there is any occasion for doing so) she must be offered
commercial satisfaction. At this point the note, in considering
questions of justice and of mere utility, becomes distinctly ironical.

Having decided to bring to life new States, especially Poland and
Czeko-Slovakia, why not give them safe frontiers even if some Germans
or Magyars have to be sacrificed?

One of Clemenceau's fixed ideas is that criterions of justice must not
be applied to Germans. The note says explicitly that, given the German
mentality, it is by no means sure that the conception of justice of
Germany will be the same as that of the Allies.

On another occasion, after the signing of the treaty, when Lloyd
George pointed out the wisdom of not claiming from Germany the
absurdity of handing over thousands of officers accused of cruelty
for judgment by their late enemies, and recognized frankly the
impossibility of carrying out such a stipulation in England,
Clemenceau replied simply that the Germans are not like the English.

The delicate point in Clemenceau's note is the contradiction in which
he tries to involve the British Prime Minister between the clauses of
the treaty concerning Germany outside Europe, in which no moderation
had been shown, and those regarding Germany in Europe, in which he
himself did not consider moderation either necessary or opportune.

There was an evident divergence of views, clearing the way for a calm
review of the conditions to be imposed, and here two countries could
have exercised decisive action: the United States and Italy.

But the United States was represented by Wilson, who was already in a
difficult situation. By successive concessions, the gravity of which
he had not realized, he found himself confronted by drafts of treaties
which in the end were contradictions of all his proposals, the
absolute antithesis of the pledges he had given. It is quite possible
that he had not seen where he was going, but his frequent irritation
was the sign of his distress. Still, in the ship-wreck of his whole
programme, he had succeeded in saving one thing, the Statute of the
League of Nations which was to be prefaced to all the treaties.
He wanted to go back to America and meet the Senate with at least
something to show as a record of the great undertaking, and he hoped
and believed in good faith that the Covenant of the League of Nations
would sooner or later have brought about agreement and modified the
worst of the mistakes made. His conception of things was academic,
and he had not realized that there was need to constitute the nations
before laying down rules for the League; he trusted that bringing them
together with mutual pledges would further most efficiently the cause
of peace among the peoples. On the other hand, there was diffidence,
shared by both, between Wilson and Lloyd George, and there was little
likelihood of the British Prime Minister's move checking the course
the Conference had taken.

Italy might have done a great work if its representatives had had
a clear policy. But, as M. Tardieu says, they had no share in the
effective doings of the Conference, and their activity was almost
entirely absorbed in the question of Fiume. The Conference was a
three-sided conversation between Wilson, Clemenceau and Lloyd George,
and the latter had hostility and diffidence on each side of him, with
Italy--as earlier stated--for the most part absent. Also, it was
just then that the divergence between Wilson and the Italian
representatives reached its acute stage. The essential parts of the
treaty were decided in April and the beginning of May, on April 22
the question of the right bank of the Rhine, on the 23rd or 24th the
agreement about reparations. Italy was absent, and when the Italian
delegates returned to Paris without being asked on May 6, the text of
the treaty was complete, in print. In actual fact, only one person did
really effective work and directed the trend of the Conference, and
that person was Clemenceau.

The fact that the Conference met in Paris, that everything that was
done by the various delegations was known, even foreseen so that
it could be opposed, discredited, even destroyed by the Press
beforehand--a thing which annoyed Lloyd George so much that at one
time he thought seriously of leaving the Conference--all this gave
an enormous advantage to the French delegation and especially to
Clemenceau who directed the Conference's work.

All his life Clemenceau has been a tremendous destroyer. For years and
years he has done nothing but overthrow Governments with a sort of
obstinate ferocity. He was an old man when he was called to lead the
country, but he brought with him all his fighting spirit. No one
detests the Church and detests Socialism more than he; both of these
moral forces are equally repulsive to his individualistic spirit. I do
not think there is any man among the politicians I have known who is
more individualistic than Clemenceau, who remains to-day the man of
the old democracy. In time of war no one was better fitted than he to
lead a fighting Ministry, fighting at home, fighting abroad, with
the same feeling, the same passion. When there was one thing only
necessary in order to beat the enemy, never to falter in hatred, never
to doubt the sureness of victory, no one came near him, no one could
be more determined, no one more bitter. But when War was over, when it
was peace that had to be ensured, no one could be less fitted for the
work. He saw nothing beyond his hatred for Germany, the necessity
for destroying the enemy, sweeping away every bit of his activity,
bringing him into subjection. On account of his age he could not
visualize the problems of the future; he could only see one thing
necessary, and that was immediate, to destroy the enemy and either
destroy or confiscate all his means of development. He was not
nationalist or imperialist like his collaborators, but before all
and above all one idea lived in him, hatred for Germany; she must be
rendered barren, disembowelled, annihilated.

He had said in the French Parliament that treaties of peace were
nothing more than a way of going on with war, and in September, 1920,
in his preface to M. Tardieu's book, he said that France must get
reparation for Waterloo and Sedan. Even Waterloo: _Waterloo et Sedan,
pour ne pas remonter plus haut, nous imposaient d'abord les douloureux
soucis d'une politique de reparation_.

Tardieu noted, as we have seen, that there were only three people
in the Conference: Wilson, Clemenceau and Lloyd George. Orlando, he
remarks, spoke little, and Italy had no importance. With subtle irony
he notes that Wilson talked like a University don criticizing an essay
with the didactic logic of the professor. The truth is that after
having made the mistake of staying in the Conference he did not
see that his whole edifice was tumbling down, and he let mistakes
accumulate one after the other, with the result that treaties were
framed which, as already pointed out, actually destroyed all the
principles he had declared to the world.

Things being as they were in Paris, Clemenceau's temperament, the
pressure of French industry and of the newspapers, the real anxiety to
make the future safe, and the desire on that account to exterminate
the enemy, France naturally demanded, through its representatives,
the severest sanctions. England, given the realistic nature of its
representatives and the calm clear vision of Lloyd George, always
favoured in general the more moderate solutions as those which were
more likely to be carried out and would least disturb the equilibrium
of Europe. So it came about that the decisions seemed to be a
compromise, but were, on the other hand, actually so hard and so stern
that they were impossible of execution.

Without committing any indiscretion it is possible to see now from
the publications of the French representatives at the Conference
themselves what France's claims were.

Let us try to sum them up.

As regards disarmament and control there could have been and there
ought to have been no difficulty about agreement. I am in favour
of the reduction of all armaments, but I regard it as a perfectly
legitimate claim that the country principally responsible for the War,
and in general the conquered countries, should be obliged to disarm.

No one would regard it as unfair that Germany and the conquered
countries should be compelled to reduce their armaments to the measure
necessary to guarantee internal order only.

But a distinction must be drawn between military sanctions meant to
guarantee peace and those which have the end of ruining the enemy.
In actual truth, in his solemn pronouncements after the entry of the
United States into the War, President Wilson had never spoken of a
separate disarmament of the conquered countries, but of adequate
guarantees _given and received_ that national armaments should
be reduced to the smallest point compatible with internal order.
Assurances given and received: that is to say an identical situation
as between conquerors and conquered.

No one can deny the right of the conqueror to compel the conquered
enemy to give up his arms and reduce his military armaments, at any
rate for some time. But on this point too there was useless excess.

I should never have thought of publishing France's claims. Bitterness
comes that way, responsibility is incurred, in future it may be an
argument in your adversary's hands. But M. Tardieu has taken this
office on himself and has told us all France did, recounting her
claims from the acts of the Conference itself. Reference is easy to
the story written by one of the representatives of France, possibly
the most efficient through having been in America a long time
and having fuller and more intimate knowledge of the American
representatives, particularly Colonel House.

Generally speaking, in every claim the French representatives started
from an extreme position, and that was not only a state of mind, it
was a tactical measure. Later on, if they gave up any part of their
claim, they had the air of yielding, of accepting a compromise. When
their claims were of such an extreme nature that the anxiety they
caused, the opposition they raised, was evident, Clemenceau put on
an air of moderation and gave way at once. Sometimes, too, he showed
moderation himself, when it suited his purpose, but in reality he only
gave way when he saw that it was impossible to get what he wanted.

In points where English and American interests were not involved,
given the difficult position in which Lloyd George was placed and
Wilson's utter ignorance of all European questions, with Italy keeping
almost entirely apart, the French point of view always came out on
top, if slightly modified. But the original claim was always so
extreme that the modification left standing the most radically severe
measure against the conquered countries.

Many decisions affecting France were not sufficiently criticized on
account of the relations in which the English and Americans stood
to France; objections would have looked like ill-will, pleading the
enemy's cause.

Previously, in nearly every case when peace was being made, the
representatives of the conquered countries had been called to state
their case, opportunity was given for discussion. The Russo-Japanese
peace is an example. Undoubtedly the aggression of Russia had been
unscrupulous and premeditated, but both parties participated in
drawing up the peace treaty. At Paris, possibly for the first time
in history, the destiny of the most cultured people in Europe was
decided--or rather it was thought that it was being decided--without
even listening to what they had to say and without hearing from their
representatives if the conditions imposed could or could not possibly
be carried out. Later on an exception, if only a purely formal one,
was made in the case of Hungary, whose delegates were heard; but it
will remain for ever a terrible precedent in modern history that,
against all pledges, all precedents and all traditions, the
representatives of Germany were never even heard; nothing was left to
them but to sign a treaty at a moment when famine and exhaustion and
threat of revolution made it impossible not to sign it.

If Germany had not signed she would have suffered less loss. But at
that time conditions at home with latent revolution threatening the
whole Empire, made it imperative to accept any solution, and all the
more as the Germans considered that they were not bound by their
signature, the decisions having been imposed by violence without any
hearing being given to the conquered party, and the most serious
decisions being taken without any real examination of the facts. In
the old law of the Church it was laid down that everyone must have a
hearing, even the devil: _Etiam diabulus audiatur_ (Even the devil
has the right to be heard). But the new democracy, which proposed to
install the society of the nations, did not even obey the precepts
which the dark Middle Ages held sacred on behalf of the accused.

Conditions in Germany were terribly difficult, and an army of two
hundred thousand men was considered by the military experts the
minimum necessary. The military commission presided over by Marshal
Foch left Germany an army of two hundred thousand men, recruited by
conscription, a Staff in proportion, service of one year, fifteen
divisions, 180 heavy guns, 600 field-guns. That is less than what
little States without any resources have now, three years after the
close of the War. But France at once imposed the reduction of the
German army to 100,000 men, no conscription but a twelve years'
service of paid soldiers, artillery reduced practically to nothing, no
heavy guns at all, very few field-guns. No opportunity was given for
discussion, nor was there any. Clemenceau put the problem in such a
way that discussion was out of the question: _C'est la France qui,
demain comme hier, sera face a l'Allemagne_. Lloyd George and Colonel
House confined themselves to saying that on this point France formally
expressed their views, Great Britain and the United States had no
right to oppose. Lloyd George was convinced that the measures were
too extreme and had tried on May 23, 1919, to modify them; but
France insisted on imposing on Germany this situation of tremendous

I have referred to the military conditions imposed on Germany:
destruction of all war material, fortresses and armament factories;
prohibition of any trade in arms; destruction of the fleet; occupation
of the west bank of the Rhine and the bridgeheads for fifteen years;
allied control, with wide powers, over the execution of the military
and naval clauses of the treaty, with consequent subjection of
all public administrations and private companies to the will of a
foreigner, or rather of an enemy kept at the expense of Germany itself
and at no small expense, etc. In some of the inter-allied conferences
I have had to take note of what these commissions of control really
are, and their absurd extravagance, based on the argument that the
enemy must pay for everything.

The purport of France's action in the Conference was not to ensure
safe military guarantees against Germany but to destroy her, at any
rate to cut her up. And indeed, when she had got all she wanted and
Germany was helpless, she continued the same policy, even intensifying
it. Every bit of territory possible must be taken, German unity must
be broken, and not only military but industrial Germany must be
laid low under a series of controls and an impossible number of

All know how, in Article 428 of the treaty, it is laid down, as a
guarantee of the execution of the treaty terms on the part of Germany,
or rather as a more extended military guarantee for France, that
German territory on the west bank of the Rhine and the bridgeheads
are to be occupied by allied and associated troops for fifteen years,
methods and regulations for such occupation following in Articles 429
and 432.

This occupation not only gives deep offence to Germany (France has
always looked back with implacable bitterness on the few months'
military occupation by her Prussian conquerors in the war of 1870),
but it paralyses all her activity and is generally judged to be
completely useless.

All the Allies were ready to give France every military guarantee
against any unjust aggression by Germany, but France wanted in
addition the occupation of the left bank of the Rhine. It was a very
delicate matter, and the notes presented to the Conference by Great
Britain on March 26 and April 2, by the United States on March 28 and
April 12, show how embarrassed the two Governments were in considering
a question which France regarded as essential for her future. It has
to be added that the action of Marshal Foch in this matter was
not entirely constitutional. He claimed that, independently of
nationality, France and Belgium have the right to look on the Rhine as
the indispensable frontier for the nations of the west of Europe, _et
par la, de la civilisation_. Neither Lloyd George nor Wilson could
swallow the argument of the Rhine a frontier between the civilization
of France and Belgium, all civilization indeed, and Germany.

In the treaty the occupation of the left bank of the Rhine and the
bridgeheads by the allied and associated powers for fifteen years
was introduced as a compromise. Such districts will be evacuated by
degrees every five years if Germany shall have faithfully carried out
the terms of the treaty. Now the conditions of the treaty are in large
measure impossible of execution, and in consequence no execution of
them can ever be described as faithful. Further, the occupying troops
are paid by Germany. It follows that the conception of the occupation
of the left bank of the Rhine was of a fact of unlimited duration.
The harm that would result from the occupation was pointed out at the
Conference by the American representatives and even more strongly by
the English. What was the use of it, they asked, if the German army
were reduced to 100,000 men? M. Tardieu himself tells the story of all
the efforts made, especially by Lloyd George and Bonar Law, to prevent
the blunder which later on was endorsed in the treaty as Article 428.
Lloyd George went so far as to complain of political intrigues for
creating disorder on the Rhine. But Clemenceau took care to put the
question in such a form that no discussion was possible. In the matter
of the occupation, he said to the English, you do not understand the
French point of view. You live in an island with the sea as defence,
we on the continent with a bad frontier. We do not look for an attack
by Germany but for systematic refusal to carry out the terms of
the treaty. Never was there a treaty with so many clauses, with,
consequently, so many opportunities for evasion. Against that risk the
material guarantee of occupation is necessary. There are two methods
in direct contrast: _En Angleterre on croit que le moyen d'y reussir
est de faire des concessions. En France nous croyons que c'est de

On March 14 Lloyd George and Wilson had offered France the fullest
military guarantee in place of the occupation of the left bank of the
Rhine. France wanted, and in fact got, the occupation as well as the
alliances. "_Notre but_?" says Tardieu. "_Sceller la garantie offerte,
mais y ajouter l'occupation_." Outside the Versailles Treaty the
United States and Great Britain had made several treaties of alliance
with France for the event of unprovoked aggression by Germany. Later
on the French-English Treaty was approved by the House of Commons, the
French-American underwent the same fate as the Versailles Treaty. But
the treaty with Great Britain fell through also on account of the
provision that it should come into force simultaneously with the
American Treaty.

In a Paris newspaper Poincare published in September, 1921, some
strictly reserved documents on the questions of the military
guarantees and the occupation of the left bank of the Rhine. He
wished to get the credit of having stood firm when Clemenceau himself
hesitated at the demand for an occupation of the left bank of the
Rhine for even a longer period than fifteen years. He has published
the letter he sent to Clemenceau to be shown to Wilson and Lloyd
George and the latter's reply.

He said that there must be no thought of giving up the occupation and
renouncing a guarantee until every obligation in the treaty should
have been carried out; he went so far as to claim that in occupation
regarded as a guarantee of a credit representing an indemnity for
damages, there is nothing contrary to the principles proclaimed by
President Wilson and recognized by the Allies. Nor would it suffice
even to have the faculty of reoccupation, because "this faculty" could
never be a valid substitute for occupation. As regards the suggestion
that a long occupation or one for an indeterminate period would cause
bad feeling, M. Poincare was convinced that this was an exaggeration.
A short occupation causes more irritation on account of its arbitrary
limit; everyone understands an occupation without other limit than the
complete carrying out of the treaty. The longer the time that passes
the better would become the relations between the German populations
and the armies of occupation.

Clemenceau communicated Poincare's letter to Lloyd George. The British
Prime Minister replied on May 6 in the clearest terms. In his eyes,
forcing Germany to submit to the occupation of the Rhine and the Rhine
Provinces for an unlimited period, was a provocation to renew the war
in Europe.

During the Conference France put forward some proposals the aim of
which was nothing less than to split up Germany. A typical example
is the memorandum presented by the French delegation claiming the
annexation of the Saar territory. This is completely German; in the
six hundred and fifty thousand inhabitants before the War there were
not a hundred French. Not a word had ever been said about annexation
of the Saar either in Government pronouncements or in any vote in the
French Parliament, nor had it been discussed by any political party.
No one had ever suggested such annexation, which certainly was a far
more serious thing than the annexation of Alsace-Lorraine to Germany,
as there was considerable German population in Alsace-Lorraine. There
was no French population at all in the Saar, and the territory in
question could not even be claimed for military reasons but only for
its economic resources. Reasons of history could not count, for they
were all in Germany's favour. Nevertheless the request was put forward
as a matter of sentiment. Had not the Saar belonged in other days
entirely or in part to France? Politics and economics are not
everything, said Clemenceau; history also has great value. For the
United States a hundred and twenty years are a long time; for France
they count little. Material reparations are not enough, there must be
moral reparations too, and the conception of France cannot be the same
as that of her Allies. The desire for the Saar responded, according
to Clemenceau, to a need of moral reparation. On this point, too,
the extreme French claim was modified. The Saar mines were given to
France, not provisionally as a matter of reparations, but permanently
with full right of possession and full guarantees for their working.
For fifteen years from the date of the treaty the government of the
territory was put in the hands of the League of Nations as trustee;
after fifteen years the population, entirely German, should be called
to decide under what government they desired to live. In other words,
in a purely German country, which no one in France had ever claimed,
of which no one in France had ever spoken during the War, the most
important property was handed to a conquering State, the country was
put under the administration of the conquerors (which is what the
League of Nations actually is at present), and after fifteen years of
torment the population is to be put through a plebiscite. Meanwhile
the French douane rules in the Saar.

It was open to the treaty to adopt or not to adopt the system of
plebiscites. When it was a case of handing over great masses of German
populations, a plebiscite was imperative--at any rate, where any doubt
existed, and the more so in concessions which formed no part of the
War aims and were not found in any pronouncement of the Allies. On the
other hand, in all cessions of German territory to Poland and Bohemia,
no mention is made of a plebiscite because it was a question of
military necessity or of lands which had been historically victims
of Germany. But only for Schleswig, Upper Silesia, Marienwerder,
Allenstein, Klagenfurth and the Saar were plebiscites laid down--and
with the exception that the plebiscite itself, when, as in the case of
Upper Silesia, it resulted in favour of Germany, was not regarded as

But where the most extreme views clashed was in the matter of
reparations and the indemnity to be claimed from the enemy.

We have already seen that the theory of reparation for damage found
its way incidentally, even before the treaty was considered, into the
armistice terms. No word had been said previously of claiming from the
conquered enemy anything beyond restoration of devastated territories,
but after the War another theory was produced. If Germany and her
allies are solely responsible for the War, they must pay the whole
cost of the War: damage to property, persons and war works. When
damage has been done, he who has done the wrong must make reparation
for it to the utmost limit of his resources.

The American delegation struck a note of moderation: no claim
should be made beyond what was established in the peace conditions,
reparation for actions which were an evident violation of
international law, restoration of invaded country, and reparation for
damage caused to the civil population and to its property.

During the War there were a number of exaggerated pronouncements on
the immense resources of Germany and her capacity for payment.

Besides all the burdens with which Germany was loaded, there was a
discussion on the sum which the Allies should claim. The War had cost
700 milliard francs, and the claims for damage to persons and property
amounted to at least 350 milliards for all the Allies together.

Whatever the sum might be, when it had been laid down in the treaty
what damage was to be indemnified, the French negotiators claimed
sixty-five per cent., leaving thirty-five per cent. for all the

What was necessary was to lay down proportions, not the actual amount
of the sum. It was impossible to say at once what amount the damages
would reach: that was the business of the Reparations Commission.

Instead of inserting in the treaty the enormous figures spoken of, the
quality, not the quantity, of the damages to be indemnified was laid
down. But the standard of reckoning led to fantastic figures.

An impossible amount had to be paid, and the delegations were
discussing then the very same things that are being discussed now. The
American experts saw the gross mistake of the other delegations, and
put down as the maximum payment 325 milliard marks up to 1951, the
first payment to be 25 milliard marks in 1921. So was invented the
Reparations Commission machine, a thing which has no precedent in any
treaty, being a commission with sovereign powers to control the life
of the whole of Germany.

In actual truth no serious person has ever thought that Germany can
pay more than a certain number of milliards a year, no one believes
that a country can be subjected to a regime of control for thirty

But the directing line of work of the treaties has been to break down
Germany, to cut her up, to suffocate her.

France had but one idea, and later on did not hesitate to admit it:
to dismember Germany, to destroy her unity. By creating intolerable
conditions of life, taking away territory on the frontier, putting
large districts under military occupation, delaying or not making any
diplomatic appointments and carrying on communications solely through
military commissions, a state of things was brought about which must
inevitably tend to weaken the constitutional unity of the German
Empire. Taking away from Germany 84 thousand kilometres of territory,
nearly eight million inhabitants and all the most important mineral
resources, preventing the unity of the German people and the six
million and five hundred thousand of German Austrians to which
Austria was then reduced, putting the whole German country under an
interminable series of controls--all this did more harm to German
unity than would have been done by taking the responsibility of a
forcible and immediate division to which the Germans could not have
consented and which the Allies could not have claimed to impose.

What has been said about Germany and the Versailles Treaty can be said
about all the other conquered countries and all the other treaties,
with merely varying proportions in each case.

The verdict that has to be passed on them will very soon be shown by
facts--if indeed facts have not shown already that, in great measure,
what had been laid down cannot be carried out. One thing is certain,
that the actual treaties threaten to ruin conquerors and conquered,
that they have not brought peace to Europe, but conditions of war and
violence. In Clemenceau's words, the treaties are a way of going on
with war.

But, even if it were possible to dispute that, as men's minds cannot
yet frame an impartial judgment and the danger is not seen by all,
there is one thing that cannot be denied or disputed, and that is that
the treaties are the negation of the principles for which the United
States and Italy, without any obligation on them, entered the War;
they are a perversion of all the Entente had repeatedly proclaimed;
they break into pieces President Wilson's fourteen points which were a
solemn pledge for the American people, and to-morrow they will be the
greatest moral weapon with which the conquered of to-day will face the
conquerors of to-day.



How many are the States of Europe? Before the War the political
geography of Europe was almost tradition. To-day every part of
Europe is in a state of flux. The only absolute certainty is that in
Continental Europe conquerors and conquered are in a condition of
spiritual, as well as economic, unrest. It is difficult indeed to say
how many political unities there are and how many are lasting, and
what new wars are being prepared, if a way of salvation is not found
by some common endeavour to install peace, which the peace of Paris
has not done. How many thinking men can, without perplexity, remember
how many States there are and what they are: arbitrary creations of
the treaties, creations of the moment, territorial limitations imposed
by the necessities of international agreements. The situation of
Russia is so uncertain that no one knows whether new States will
arise as a result of her continuous disintegration, or if she will be
reconstructed in a solid, unified form, and other States amongst those
which have arisen will fall.

Without taking into account those traditional little States which are
merely historical curiosities, as Monaco, San Marino, Andorra, Monte
Santo, not counting Iceland as a State apart, not including the
Saar, which as a result of one of the absurdities of the Treaty
of Versailles is an actual State outside Germany, but considering
Montenegro as an existing State, Europe probably comprises thirty
States. Some of them are, however, in such a condition that they do
not give promise of the slightest guarantee of life or security.

Europe has rather Balkanized herself: not only the War came from the
Balkans, but also many ideas, which have been largely exploited in
parliamentary and newspaper circles. Listening to many speeches and
being present at many events to-day leaves the sensation of being in
Belgrade or at Sarajevo.

Europe, including Russia and including also the Polar archipelagos,
covers an area of a little more than ten million square kilometres.
Canada is of almost the same size; the United States of America has
about the same territory.

The historical procedure before the War was towards the formation of
large territorial unities; the _post-bellum_ procedure is entirely
towards a process of dissolution, and the fractionizing, resulting a
little from necessity and a little also from the desire to dismember
the old Empires and to weaken Germany, has assumed proportions almost
impossible to foresee.

In the relations between the various States good and evil are not
abstract ideas: political actions can only be judged by their results.
If the treaties of peace which have been imposed on the conquered
would be capable of application, we could, from an ethnical point of
view, regret some or many of the decisions; but we should only have to
wait for the results of time for a definite judgment.

The evil is that the treaties which have been signed are not
applicable or cannot be applied without the rapid dissolution of

So the balance-sheet of the peace, after three years from the
armistice--that is, three years from the War--shows on the whole a
worsening of the situation. The spirit of violence has not died out,
and perhaps in some countries not even diminished; on the other hand
the causes of material disagreement have increased, the inequality
has augmented, the division between the two groups has grown, and the
causes of hatred have been consolidated. An analysis of the foreign
exchanges indicated a process of undoing and not a tendency to

We have referred in a general manner to the conditions of Germany as a
result of the Treaty of Versailles; even worse is the situation of the
other conquered countries in so far that either they have not been
treated with due regard, or they have lost so much territory that they
have no possibility of reconstructing their national existence. Such
is the case with Austria, with Turkey and with Hungary. Bulgaria,
which has a tenacious and compact population composed of small
agriculturists, has less difficult conditions of reconstruction.

Germany has fulfilled loyally all the conditions of the disarmament.
After she had handed over her fleet she destroyed her fortifications,
she destroyed all the material up to the extreme limit imposed by the
treaties, she disbanded her enormous armies. If in any one of the
works of destruction she had proceeded with a bad will, if she had
tried to delay them, it would be perfectly understandable. A different
step carries one to a dance or to a funeral. At the actual moment
Germany has no fleet, no army, no artillery, and is in a condition in
which she could not reply to any act of violence. This is why all the
violence of the Poles against Germany has found hardly any opposition.

All this is so evident that no one can raise doubts on the question.

Everyone remembers, said Hindenburg, the difficult task that the
United States had to put in the field an army of a million men.
Nevertheless they had the protection of the ocean during the period
when they were preparing their artillery and their aerial material.

Germany for her aviation, for her heavy artillery, for her armaments,
is not even separated by the ocean from her Allies, and, on the
contrary, they are firmly established in German territory; it would
require many months to prepare a new war, during which France and her
Allies would not be resting quietly.

General Ludendorff recently made certain declarations which have a
capital importance, since they fit the facts exactly. He declared
that a war of reconquest by Germany against the Allies and especially
against France is for an indefinite time completely impossible from
the technical and military point of view. France has an army largely
supplied with all the means of battle, ready to march at any time,
which could smash any German military organization hostile to France.
The more so since by the destruction of the German war industries
Germany has lost every possibility of arming herself afresh. It is
absurd to believe that a German army ready for modern warfare can be
organized and put on a war footing secretly. A German army which could
fight with the least possible hope of success against an enemy army
armed and equipped in the most modern manner would first of all have
to be based on a huge German war industry, which naturally could not
be improvised or built up in secret. Even if a third power wished
to arm Germany, it would not be possible to arm her so quickly and
mobilize her in sufficient time to prevent the enemy army from
obtaining an immediate and decisive victory.

It would be necessary, as everyone realizes even in France, that
Germany should wish to commit suicide. In consequence of the treaty
there is the "maximum of obstacles which mind can conceive" to
guard against any German peril; and against Germany there have been
accumulated "_such guarantees that never before has history recorded
the like_" (Tardieu), and Germany cannot do anything for many years.
Mobilization requires years and years for preparation and the greatest
publicity for its execution.

Wilson spoke of guarantees _given and received_ for the reduction of
armaments. Instead, after the treaties had been concluded, if the
conquered were completely disarmed, the conquering nations have
continued to arm. Almost all the conquering nations have not only high
expenses but more numerous armies. If the conditions of peace imposed
by the treaties were considered supportable, remembering the fact that
the late enemies were harmless, against whom are these continuous
increase of armaments?

We have already seen the military conditions imposed on Germany--a
small mercenary army, no obligatory conscription, no military
instruction, no aviation, no artillery except a minimum and
insignificant quantity required by the necessities of interior order.
Austria, Bulgaria and Hungary can only have insignificant armies.
Austria may maintain under arms 30,000 men, but her ruined finances
only permit her, according to the latest reports, to keep 21,700;
Bulgaria has 20,000 men plus 3,082 gendarmes; Hungary, according to
the Treaty of Trianon, has 35,000. Turkey in Europe, which hardly
exists any more as a territorial State, except for the city of
Constantinople, where the sovereignty of the Sultan is more apparent
than real, has not an actual army.

Taken all together the States which formed the powerful nucleus of war
of Germany as they are now reduced territorially have under arms fewer
than 180,000 men, not including, naturally, those new States risen on
the ruins of the old Central Empires, and which arm themselves by the
request and sometimes in the interest of some State of the Entente.

The old enemies, therefore, are not in a condition to make war, and
are placed under all manner of controls. Sometimes the controls are
even of a very singular nature. All have been occupied in giving the
sea to the victors. Poland has obtained the absurd paradox of the
State of Danzig because it has the sea. The constant aim of the
Allies, even in opposition to Italy, has been to give free and safe
outlets on the sea coast to the Serb-Croat-Slovene State.

At the Conference of London and San Remo I repeatedly referred to
the expenses of these military missions of control and often their
outrageous imposition on the conquered who are suffering from hunger.
There are generals who are assigned as indemnity and expenses of all
sorts, salaries which are much superior to that of the President of
the United States of America. It is necessary to look at Vienna and
Budapest, where the people are dying of hunger, to see the carnival of
the Danube Commission. For the rest it is only necessary to look at
the expense accounts of the Reparations Commissions to be convinced
that this sad spectacle of greed and luxury humiliates the victors
more than the conquered.

German-Austria has lost every access to the sea. She cannot live on
her resources with her enormous capital in ruins. She cannot unite
with Germany, though she is a purely German country, because the
treaty requires the unanimous consent of the League of Nations, and
France having refused, it is therefore impossible. She cannot unite
with Czeko-Slovakia, with Hungary and other countries which have
been formed from the Austrian Empire, because that is against the
aspirations of the German populations, and it would be the formation
anew of that Danube State which, with its numerous contrasts, was one
of the essential causes of the War. Austria has lost every access
to the sea, has consigned her fleet and her merchant marine, but in
return has had the advantage of numerous inter-allied commissions of
control to safeguard the military, naval and aeronautic clauses. But
there are clauses which can no longer be justified, as, for instance,
when Austria no longer has a sea coast. (Art. 140 of the Treaty of St.
Germain, which forbids the construction or acquisition of: any sort of
submersible vessel, even commercial.) It is impossible to understand
why (Art. 143) the wireless high-power station of Vienna is not
allowed to transmit other than commercial telegrams under the
surveillance of the Allied and Associated Powers, who take the trouble
to determine even the length of the wave to be used.

Before the War, in 1914, France desired to bring her army to the
maximum of efficiency; opposite a great German army was to be found a
great French army.

Germany had in 1913, according to the Budget presented to the
Reichstag, a standing army of 647,000 soldiers of all arms, of which
105,000 were non-commissioned officers and 30,000 officers. It was the
greatest army of Europe and of the world, taking into account its real

Whilst Germany has no longer an army, France on July 1, 1921, had
under arms 810,000 men, of which 38,473 were officers, therefore many
more than Germany had before the War. Given its demographic character,
it is the greatest military force which has been seen in modern times,
and can only have two reasons--either military domination or ruin. The
military budget proposed for the present year in the ordinary section
is for 2,782 millions of francs, besides that portion paid by Germany
for the army of occupation; the extraordinary section of the same
budget is for 1,712 millions of francs, besides 635 millions for
expenses repayable for the maintenance of troops of occupation in
foreign countries.


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