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The Treaty of Versailles

 
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Percy Toplis



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BerichtGeplaatst: 17 Mei 2010 23:11    Onderwerp: The Treaty of Versailles Reageer met quote

Modern World Blunder: The Treaty of Versailles

Introduction

The Treaty of Versailles is a document that brought closure to World War I. The treaty dealt with Germany's surrender to the Allied powers. Under the treaty Germany suffered humiliation, economic collapse, and was ultimately shunned by world powers in her time of need. This mishandling of Germany's future at the hands of the leaders of the victorious nations at that time forced Germany to seek radical changes within its government. These unrealistic treaty expectations were present from the very start of the process that brought about the treaty in Paris. "Paris was a nightmare......the mingled significance and unreality of the decisions; levity, blindness, insolence, confused cries from without, -- all the elements of ancient tragedy were there." (Keynes 7). It was the Treaty of Versailles that lead to the Nazi party's ascension to power and subsequently World War II.

Treaty of Versailles

The Treaty of Versailles was the first and most important of several treaties brought about during the Peace Conference of Paris in 1919. It formally sealed the defeat of Germany following World War I and served as the cornerstone of a peace settlement process for the new Europe that emerged from a ravaged land decimated by death of 10 million of its people. Political and social changes during this time have rarely been experienced by Europe. Chief among these changes was the collapse of the Russian, Austrian, German, and Ottoman Empires and their ruling dynasties.

As the war drew to a close late in 1918, Austria-Hungary disappeared from the map of Europe. In Russia, revolution was the popular pastime of its people and pursued by the Bolshevik movement. Germany was at the mercy of its victors, a very bitter France and its allies. The victors were sure to make territorial adjustments to both Germany's eastern and western borders. The Ottoman Empire actually started its collapse prior to World War I and the war just helped push the Empire to ruin. The Turks, under the treaty, stood to lose control over all non-Turkish peoples. These four great collapsed Empires were to be replaced by a series of new and unstable governments and countries mostly located in Eastern Europe between Germany and Russia.

These new states effectively created a power vacuum that would suck Europe into a worse situation than before the war. Russia was defeated by Germany and Germany was in turn defeated by a combined allied effort including France, Britain, and America. However, both Russia and Germany remained powerful despite their defeats. Russia was bent on a sweeping revolution that would encompass the globe and Germany was interested in protecting its borders. It is with this knowledge that the victorious powers converged upon Paris in December 1918 to write a treaty that would force Germany to respect its new frontiers and to limit the extent of Russian revolution.

The Peace Conference of Paris formally convened on January 18, 1919. The top four western delegates were known as the council of four. Georges Clemenceau, Premier of France and President of the Peace Conference; David Lloyd George, the British Prime Minister; Thomas Woodrow Wilson, President of the United States; and Vittorio Emanuele Orlando, Prime Minister of Italy. The four agreed that the draft should insure the longevity of peace and to recognize the defeat of Germany. Beyond this there was very little middle ground. Clemenceau, was concerned with stripping the Germans of the Rhineland and preventing any further attacks towards France. Lloyd George did not want to weaken Germany and wished to return Europe to the way it were before the war with the exception of protecting France from Germany. President Wilson was obsessed with his famous fourteen points (though he only cared about the last one). The Italian spokesman played a minor role and only wanted to secure some territories promised to it by France and Great Britain. Despite these disagreements the treaty was finished four months later, in April, when the allies instructed Germany to send a delegation to receive the finished document.

The major parts of the treaty were the fourteen points on Wilson's famous list, the establishment of the League of Nations and also the Articles, which dealt with German rights and the country's interests outside Germany. President Wilson believed that the League of Nations would in time deal with any shortcomings, which may have been incorporated into the treaty. On June 28, 1919, the fifth anniversary of the assassination of the Archduke Francis Ferdinand, the treaty was signed in the Hall of Mirrors. All the great powers signed it except the United States, which refused to ratify it. In August 25, 1921, the Americans concluded a separate peace treaty with Germany.

German Hardship

Germany's treaty was unforgiving mostly because the Germans were the principal leaders of the Central Powers in World War I. The Germans regarded the settlements of the treaty as harsh even though they suffered less than some of their allies. Both the Ottoman Empire and Austria-Hungary had collapsed and ceased to exist, while Germany was still a strong viable nation. The Central Power's leaders had hoped for a sort of equality of nations as pointed out by President Wilson's principles. Instead, a clause in the treaty (Article 231) clearly laid all of the guilt for World War I on Germany and her allies.

Germany suffered substantial land losses along its western and eastern frontiers. The treaty set up the Rhineland as a demilitarized area to be occupied by French troops for a period of fifteen years. A new, independent Polish state was given much land from Prussia to give the Poles an outlet to the sea. Outside of Europe, Germany had to surrender all its colonies, which were taken by the League of Nations and distributed among France, Great Britain, Japan, and a few other countries.

As harsh as these territorial implements were the disarmament treatments were even more overbearing on Germany's health as a country. The army was not allowed to exceed one hundred thousand soldiers, all of who had to be long-term volunteers with no reserve force allowed. "Germany was left, as even the Allies admitted, with something closer to a police force than an army" (Macmillan 176). The General Staff that led Germany through the war was disbanded and materials productions were severely limited. The German navy was reduced to a pathetic small few ships with no submarines being allowed into their fleet. The air force was completely eradicated. Then came the payments for the cost of the war, which seemed only fair to the allies, because Germany had started the war in the Allies eyes. Much suffering had been dolled out on both sides and the cost of the war was staggering.

No definitive amount was set at the signing of the treaty, but the Allies decided that Germany was only to pay for actual damages, not the costs of waging war. Effectively the victors were asking Germany to sign a blank check and to pay later when the total had been figured out. The Germans called the treaty a Diktat-a dictated peace. By May 1, 1921 Germany was to pay in cash the sum of billions of dollars. It was soon found out that a stripped down Germany would not be able to fulfill the obligations delegated towards the country by the treaty. The war and subsequent peace had taken its toll on the German currency.

The unsatisfactory repayment conditions led the Weimar Republic's leading statesman, Foreign Minister Gustav Stresemann, to enter into a series of agreements known as the Locarno Pact in 1925. This pact did not overturn the Treaty of Versailles but further committed Germany to the treaty with a few conditions. The reparation payments were to be scaled down to facilitate payment. A major turn of events came when Stresemann and the other leading diplomats of Europe, attending the Pact talks, agreed that the nations of the entire European continent should work for a general program of disarmament. Germany argued that by doing this the disarmament requirements of the Treaty of Versailles forced upon them would not seem so harsh and be easier to bear.

This lasted for a few years, but deep down the Germans hated the Treaty of Versailles and a change was needed to help Germany out of a deep recession. The Nazi movement thrived on this hatred and found momentum in their rise to power with Adolf Hitler. Yet by the time Hitler rose to power in 1933, Germany was freed of its reparation obligations and only the military requirements remained in place.

Failing of Versailles and Hitler's Rise to Power

The two major guarantors of the peace settlement, Great Britain and France, found their task of enforcing the treaty difficult due to frequently conflicting foreign policies. A greater difficulty rested in the fact that the United States and Russia never officially recognized the treaty and therefore took little interest in upholding the settlement. This is ironic in that one of the leading statesmen, President Wilson, who had contributed so much to the formation of the treaty now turned America's back in isolation from Europe. Russia, now in the hands of the Bolsheviks, was concerned with promoting worldwide revolution. Despite all these handicaps both Great Britain and France, with the support of Italy, managed to uphold the Treaty of Versailles until 1935 when they started to give way to the demands of Hitler's Germany.

During a disarmament conference in Geneva in 1933 containing sixty nations, Hitler began causing trouble for the other nations. German representatives vetoed all efforts of compromise and also convincing the delegations in Geneva not to count its paramilitary Nazi storm troopers as soldiers. As the disagreements in Geneva were on going Hitler continued the clandestine manufacture of German arms. In October Hitler withdrew Germany from the conference blaming the other countries at hindering a successful resolution. Nine days later Germany withdrew from the League of Nations, which Stresemann had entered during his reign as chancellor. Europe continued to isolate Germany. The Soviet Union became a member of the League of Nations and quickly entered into an anti-German bloc with France and her allies. Even Benito Mussolini, Fascist Dictator of Italy, and once an ally with Germany seemed to be turning his back on Germany. In 1935 Rome and Paris signed an agreement that settled disputes on African colonies but in reality the treaty was directed against the renewed threat of Nazi Germany.

Hitler, feeling this isolation, officially declared in March that his country would no longer abide by the disarmament clauses of the Treaty of Versailles, and promptly began a full rearmament. The League of Nations did nothing but mildly condemning the action as a precursor to war. Great Britain was too concerned with domestic matters and the new President of France, Pierre Laval, was concerned with Moscow relations. Mussolini was preparing his war against Ethiopia. With all of this going on in Europe Hitler refortified the Rhineland with German troops almost one year after he withdrew Germany from the League of Nations. This act not only destroyed the Treaty of Versailles but the Locarno Pact as well.

Conclusion

The German military reoccupation of the Rhineland was a flagrantly illegal act; it clearly violated Articles 42 and 43 of the Versailles Treaty. France had initially hoped to detach the Rhineland from Germany, but America and England preferred a demilitarized buffer zone between the two. The English and Americans had given France a security guarantee for this zone in a separate treaty in June 1919. When France called upon her British ally for support in opposing the German move, the British rejected the use of force and economic sanctions. Britain insisted on negotiation since the Rhineland was of no real interest to the British. When France and Britain called upon the United States to condemn the German action, America refused and crept further into isolation. The lack of any military action confirmed Hitler's belief that France, Britain, and the United States could be blackmailed by the threat of war. The Versailles Treaty and the Locarno Pact were effectively dead. The failure of the Western powers to act in 1936 helped to set the stage for the next World War.

The onset of World War II was a direct result of the mishandled Treaty of Versailles. The severe economic pressure of a democratic Germany eventually gave in to the radical ideals of the National Socialist party. The economic pressure was due to the harsh demands of the economically ignorant Treaty of Versailles. "It is an extraordinary fact that the fundamental economic problems of a Europe starving and disintegrating before their eyes, was the one question in which it was impossible to arouse interest of the Four" (Keynes 226). For these reasons the Treaty of Versailles should be considered one of the modern world's greatest blunders that cost the lives of millions throughout the world.

Bibliography
• Coetzee, Frans and Marilyn. World War I: A History in Documents. Oxford University Press, 2002.
• Keynes, Maynard. The Economic Consequences of Peace, Revised, 2003.
• Macmillan, Margaret. Paris 1919. Random House, Inc., New York, 2001.
• The Council of Four. Treaty of Versailles. Paris, 1919.


http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/697933/modern_world_blunder_the_treaty_of.html?cat=37
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Percy Toplis



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BerichtGeplaatst: 17 Mei 2010 23:15    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

Was the Treaty of Versailles a Successful Settlement of the War?

All three representatives had different aims towards the defeated countries, however they were forced to make compromises, therefore leaving the meeting unsatisfied. The final Treaty of Versailles included a constitution of the League of Nations which contained 14 points, thus again calling for compromise between three conflicting countries. In the end, there were many conflicting ideas about the results of the Treaty of Versailles in the eyes of Wilson, Clemenceau, and Lloyd George.

Woodrow Wilson of the United States contributed the '14 Points', through which Wilson calls for open diplomacy, freedom of the seas, removal of trade barriers and reduction of armaments in support of his central attempt to address the world's problems. The points ultimately led to the League of Nations, which Wilson had a major part in forming; during the signing of the treaty. Article 10 in the treaty called on the US to support the League of Nations, which received national opposition due to what was viewed as a large amount of unnecessary American casualties during the war.

Ultimately, America was dissatisfied with the outcome of the treaty, therefore the US Senate never ratified it. This, of course, meant that they had never joined the League of Nations, partly because they wanted to limit their involvement in future European wars. Although America probably tempered the treaty, preventing Clemenceau from being overly harsh on Germany, the nation as a whole was unsatisfied, while Wilson defended it to the end.

In France, George Clemenceau was satisfied to a point with the treaty. He accepted Article 231, the disarmament clauses of the Treaty, getting back Alsace-Lorraine, and being given Germany colonies as mandates on behalf of the League of Nations. However, he was unhappy that France got the Saar coalfields for only 15 years, and he was angry that the Rhineland was merely demilitarized. France had wanted the Rhineland made into a powerless independent country, and Germany split up. Also, Clemenceau wanted reparations so high that Germany would be crippled, however the reparations committee determined an amount later, which did initially anger Clemenceau.

Britain received some of the German colonies, which was one of their aims. Overall, after the treaty they considered it fairly acceptable and were contented for a while. Germany's military force was weakened, meaning less threat to the empire. However, eventually it was thought the treaty was too harsh on Germany, and also it didn't deal with Germany's eastern borders, which Lloyd-George considered a possible trouble spot in the future.

Even in Britain the opinion was split on the treaty. Winston Churchill believed that the treaty was the best settlement that could have been reached and "'the wishes of the various populations prevailed'". However, Harold Nicholson, a British delegate at Versailles, called the treaties "neither just nor wise". So even in between the powers in Britain, there was some disagreement. Germany's economy was not in any way protected, in fact it was ripped apart by reparations and debt, eventually crashing into hyperinflation. This was something Lloyd-George tried to avoid and it negatively affected the rest of Europe.

It is clear that not one of the three nations were completely satisfied with the Treaty of Versailles, however this doesn't mean that none of their aims were achieved. The resulting treaty satisfied Clemenceau in some ways, but he didn't receive everything he wanted. Germany did, in fact, have to pay huge sums to the nations, however it was never harsh enough for France.

Lloyd-George liked the reduction of the German navy, for it ensured that 'Britannia ruled the waves'. However, he was suspicious about the annexation of the League of Nations, and opposed self-determination, thinking it would cause problems in the future. His predictions of another war were accurate. Wilson agreed with the self-determination and a League of Nations, but felt let down because few of his fourteen points were included. They all benefited in the way of certain compensations and new land, however tensions still remained high all over Europe. It's safe to say that the treaty did not meet the requirements of a peace agreement, rather it was a compromise barely satisfying all parties involved.

http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/2995392/was_the_treaty_of_versailles_a_successful.html?singlepage=true&cat=37
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"Omdat ik alles beter weet is het mijn plicht om betweters te minachten."
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Percy Toplis



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BerichtGeplaatst: 17 Mei 2010 23:17    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

Treaty of Versailles

On June, 28 1919 the Treaty of Versailles was created, which was a peace treaty that would officially end World War I. World War I was between the Allied and Associated Powers and the Central Powers. During the formation of the treaty, negotiations took almost six months between France, Britain, and the United States to get a complete agreement among the nations.

"A man who has to be convinced to act before he acts is not a man of action. You must act as you breathe."

-Prime Minister George Clemenceau

There were many provisions that the treaty had undergone but one of most important was which Germany and its allies had to accept full responsibility for causing the war. Another provision was that Germany couldn't have a large army and had to give up territory. At this meeting at the Versailles Palace, France was represented by Prime Minister George Clemenceau, Britain was represented by Prime Minister David Lloyd George, and the United States was represented by President Woodrow Wilson.

"Begin to free yourself at once by doing all that is possible with the means you have, and as you proceed in this spirit the way will open for you to do more."

- Prime MinisterGeorgia Clemenceau

France, Britain, and the United States all had different opinions as to what should happen to Germany and its allies. This would make the agreement among the nations tougher to get than what originally thought. Huge disagreements among these men and their nations would follow throughout the creation of the Treaty of Versailles.

"America is the only nation in history which miraculously has gone directly from barbarism to degeneration without the usual interval of civilization."

- Prime Minister George Clemenceau

France had lost many soldiers due to World War I and much of the western front had been fought on French soil. France wanted to get revenge by gaining control of many of Germany's factories. Clemenceau's intentions of what he wanted to happen to Germany were quite simple. He thought Germany's military should be weakened forever (so they wouldn't be able to invade France again) and he also wanted to destroy the old, military style Germany and to hang Kaiser (who fled to Netherlands near end of the War). Clemenceau also wanted to set-up naval blockades around Germany and protect secret treaties.

Also in his opinion, Germany should also be punished territorially. France demanded the return of Alsace-Lorraine and also Germany's colonies should be taken and distributed among the victorious nations. France was also suffering from damage to the country, damage to historic and important buildings (750,000 houses and 23,000 factories - destroyed) and Clemenceau wanted reparations. Basically Clemenceau's goals were: 1) Gain control of German factories 2) Humiliate German People 3) Forever end Germany's large and powerful army and 4) Create "Safe Zone". (Wikipedia)

"I tell you, as one who has studied the whole situation, I don't think Hitler is a fool - he is not going to challenge the British Empire"

- Prime Minister David Lloyd George

Unlike France, Britain was never invaded by Germany but still the British people wanted revenge just like the French. Many British soldiers were killed in battle during the War, and Prime Minister David Lloyd George supported reparations, but lesser than that of the French. Lloyd George realized that if the French got their demands they would become very powerful, and a balance would then become unsettled. He also supported the naval blockades and secret treaties. Prime Minister George Clemenceau and he both also see a threat and feel threatened by Wilson's 'self-determination' which they saw as a threat to their empires. Basically, he wanted to see Germany pay but not another nation become extremely powerful.

"Four specters haunt the Poor / Old Age, Accident, Sickness and Unemployment. We are going to exorcise them. We are going to drive hunger from the hearth. We mean to banish the workhouse from the horizon of every workman in the land."

- Prime Minister David Lloyd George

Prime Minister David Lloyd George was able to gain reparations for the widows, orphans, and the men left unable to work by injury. He also wanted to gain some territory and gain Britain's colonies. Although, he wanted these and supported the other nations, to a degree; Lloyd George understand what could come from a bitter Germany and thought a less harsh treaty would be better than a severely punishing treaty, which the French and British people were all for. He also took into consideration that Germany was Britain's second largest trade partner, and wanted to keep peace between them.

Prime Minister David Lloyd George didn't want to upset the 'Balance of Power' that had been set up, and was quite a major issue with him - if France got what they wanted, it would send the 'Balance of Power' into an uproar. Prime Minister David Lloyd George's goals were 1) Defend British interests 2) Reduce Germany's future military power 3) Not to create bitter Germany that would seek revenge and 4) Aid German economy to become strong trading partner with Britain. (Wikipedia)

"What do you want to be a sailor for? There are greater storms in politics than you will ever find at sea. Piracy, broadsides, blood on the decks. You will find them all in politics."

- Prime Minister David Lloyd George

Although the British and the French people supported getting revenge from Germany, the American people thought the United States should get out of European affairs as soon as possible. Therefore, the United States took a conciliatory view towards the German reparations. Also, like the British, the Americans also wanted to ensure future trading opportunities.

"The world must be made safe for democracy."

-President Woodrow Wilson

Before the end of World War I, President Woodrow Wilson, had put forward his Fourteen Points, which was he thought should happen to Germany, and something that was quite less harsh than the French and British demands. Germany had originally thought that the Treaty of Versailles was going to be based basically off of Wilson's Fourteen Points.

The American public didn't want another to follow because of the actions of the treaty, so Wilson felt that punishing Germany to hard would leave no other choice but a war. He proposed the idea of the formation of the League of Nations, which would ensure nothing like this would ever happen again. European allies felt that Wilson's proposals were to idealistic and that he didn't know how the European power politics were dealt with.

"No nation is fit to sit in judgement upon any other nation."

-President Woodrow Wilson

Also, Wilson was very strongly for was 'Self-determination' of smaller countries. He felt that they should have their own government and almost all should become very independent. Both the British and the French felt threatened by this because they felt as if it were directly aimed at their empires. Unlike, Britain and France, the United States did not support Secret Treaties, but he did agree with the idea that the German army should be at a smaller size. President Woodrow Wilson's goals were 1) Prevent another war 2) Establish League of Nations and 3) End Secret Treaties. (Wikipedia)

"There is such a thing as a man being too proud to fight; there is such a thing as a nation being so right that it does not need to convince others by force that it is right."

-President Woodrow Wilson

http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/234729/treaty_of_versailles.html?cat=37
_________________

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Percy Toplis



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BerichtGeplaatst: 17 Mei 2010 23:19    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

Why it is a Mistake to Lay Most of the Blame for World War II Upon the Treaty of Versailles

The substantial impact of the Treaty of Versailles on the emergence of the conditions that eventually led to World War II should not be underestimated by any means, but under dissimilar circumstances the Treaty by itself would only doubtfully have been enough to create circumstances of inevitability. The thing that has become inevitable, of course, is that the terms of the Treaty of Versailles have been routinely blamed by lazy historians and ideologically unsound revisionists for producing the level of economic fear and insecurity among Germans that could manufacture a psychological state of mind embraced by the nation as a whole that facilitated the unquestioned acceptance of the patently ludicrous political message at the heart of Hitler and the National Socialists. Lost admit this assurance of a correspondence between divergent events, however, is that Germany was not exactly unaccompanied in the global economic devastation that gripped the world during Hitler's rise to power.

The impact on the inevitability of World War II by the 1920 stock market crash thousands of miles away from Berlin cannot be underestimated. This event brought the boom market of the Roaring Twenties to an instantaneous halt not just in America, but around the world. While it is true that Germany suffered enormously, so too were other major players in World War II affected. The utmost impact of the economic hesitation engendered by the stock market collapse was not relegated to economic viability such as the inability to conduct necessary trade, but to political opportunism. The massive loss of jobs and income threw many people around the world into abject poverty, and with poverty comes despair, and with despair comes the willingness to look for an answer out. The Great Depression created the perfect opportunity for extremist or radical ideas to flourish. The 1930s saw the rise in power of proponents of both communism and fascism, each of whom promised a way out of hopelessness.

This hopelessness presented especially ripe opportunities for those who had been most devastating by the Treaty of Versailles and the loss of World War I. The fascists in Italy quickly gained support by appeals to nationalism by being quite capable of pointing the finger toward America and England as the cause of their misery. It was the rampant capitalism and the power of the banks and the blind greed that had thrown the world into turmoil. Promises of prosperity and the realignment of their own rightful place among the world leaders proved to be instruments of great appeal to those who saw in these pledges the best opportunity to fill their hungry bellies and meager bank accounts. The real key to the success of the fascist revolt resided in tying the emotional power of nationalist sentiment to a xenophobic hatred of the outsiders who had allegedly been responsible for all their problems.

http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/563633/why_it_is_a_mistake_to_lay_most_of_pg2.html?cat=37
_________________

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Andriessen



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BerichtGeplaatst: 18 Mei 2010 19:50    Onderwerp: versailles Reageer met quote

Bij het lezen van het artikel ove versailles kwam de volgende gedachte bij mij op:


De schuldvraag;
Door: J.H.J.Andriessen

‘Zo vanzelfsprekend als men ten aanzien van de Tweede Wereldoorlog kan stellen dat het nationaal socialisme hem ontketende, zo inge¬wikkeld ligt het vraagstuk wat betreft de Eerste Wereldoor¬log.(1914-1918). Weliswaar noemde de Duitse historicus Fritz Fischer de Duitse houding vóór 1914 agressiever en nationalis¬tischer en de Duitse oorlogsdoelen duidelijker dan die van de andere landen waardoor haar schuld aan het ontstaan van de oorlog groter zou zijn’, maar.¬...zo schreef de Nederlandse historicus Dr.P.M.Luykx (1940) in het voortreffelijke boek Veranderende Grenzen 1815-1919:

‘al¬gemeen aanvaard zijn deze stellingen nimmer’

en hij voegde daar aan toe:

’Wat het verdrag van Versailles over de schuld¬vraag vaststelde is in elk geval onjuist’.

Met deze opmerkingen voegde Luykx zich bij die kleine minderheid van historici die hun twijfel uitspraken over de juistheid van de bewering , vastgelegd in artikel 231 van het Verdrag van Versailles, dat Duitsland als enige schuld had aan- en verantwoordelijk was voor het uitbreken van de Eerste Wereldoorlog. een oorlog die 4 jaar zou duren, zo'n dertig miljoen slachtof¬fers kostte en de wereld voorgoed van aanzien veran¬derde.

Het was in de vijftiger jaren dat tijdens een bijeen¬komst van interna¬tionale historici te Verdun, een gezamenlijke verkla¬ring werd uitgegeven waarin gesteld werd dat het ont¬staan van de Eerste Wereldoorlog niet de schuld was van slechts één land of één bevolking, maar het gevolg van een complex van oorzaken en reacties. Een opzienbarende verklaring welke toentertijd echter maar weinig aandacht kreeg. De inte¬resse in de Eerste Wereldoorlog en alles wat daar mee te maken had was, zo kort na de Tweede Wereldoorlog, natuurlijk ook nog niet zo groot.
Inmiddels echter staat de oorlog van 14-18 weer meer in de belangstelling en men zou dan ook verwachten dat men bij het onder¬zoek naar de werkelijke oorzaken van het ontstaan van die oorlog, zou kunnen putten uit een scala van historische studies met nieuwe meningen en standpunten. Opvallend genoeg is dat echter niet zo. In grote lijnen wordt de rol van Duits¬land vóór 1914 door de meeste historici nog steeds op welhaast de zelfde wijze ge¬schetst als direct na 1918 het geval was.

Het feit dat toegegeven moest worden dat Duitsland niet de hoofdschuldige aan de oorlog was geweest had nauwe¬lijks of geen consequenties voor de beschrijving van haar rol en die van de geallieerde landen in die dagen en dat mag toch wel verbazing¬wekkend genoemd worden.
Als Duitsland dan niet schul¬dig was of niet alleen schuldig, wie was- of waren dat dan wel? En wat moeten we dan aan met arti¬kel 231 van het Ver¬drag van Versailles waarin Duitsland toch de volledige verant¬woorde¬lijkheid voor het ontstaan van de oorlog werd aangezegd en waarop de op haar toegepaste straf¬maat¬rege¬len waren geba¬seerd. Indirect was het ‘Verdrag van Versailles’ en speci¬aal artikel 231 toch mede verantwoor¬delijk voor het ontstaan van het Duitse nationaalsocialisme en het naziregime?
En waarom drongen de Duitsers zelf niet opnieuw op rehabilita¬tie aan? De ‘Verklaring van Verdun’ was toch een unieke kans om zich van een zeer belastend stuk verleden te ontdoen?
En waarom waren voornoemde internationale historici niet duidelijker en lichtten ze hun verklaring niet nader toe?

Als Duitsland niet alléén schuldig was, wat was dan de rol van de andere partici¬panten in die oorlog? Moesten de latere Duitse verkla¬ringen dat de oorlog hen was opgedron¬gen dan wellicht toch serieus worden genomen?
Maar zou het het dan niet noodzakelijk worden de verklaringen van de geal¬lieerden in dat drama eens opnieuw kritisch te bestuderen, nu vanuit de gedachte dat hun rol mogelijk niet zo onschuldig is geweest als nogal eens werd beweerd?
Kortom, de ‘verklaring van Verdun’ had feitelijk een enorme opschudding teweeg moeten brengen maar verrassend genoeg deed het dat niet.

Opvallend is dat veel hedendaagse historici vlot erken¬nen dat men Duitsland niet meer als de alleen schuldige ziet maar dat de interesse om dan de juiste gang van zaken te onderzoeken, minimaal blijkt te zijn. Natuurlijk, in de twinti¬ger jaren waren er historici van naam, die reeds toen om herziening van artikel 231 van het Verdrag van Versailles riepen of op z'n minst hun grote twijfel over de geldig¬heid van dat artikel, dat Duitsland als de enige schuldige aanwees,uitspra¬ken.
De Amerikanen liepen daarbij voorop. Niet alleen weigerde het Amerikaanse Congres het ‘Verdrag van Versailles’ te onder¬teke¬nen en verwierp de Amerikaanse delegatie bij de vredesbesprekingen nadrukkelijk óók artikel 227 (waarin de Duitse keizer als oorlogsmisdadiger werd opgevoerd om wiens uitlevering moest worden gevraag), ook bekende Amerikaanse historici als Sydney Fay, Bar¬nes, Owen e.a. publiceerden indrukwekkend feitenmateriaal waarin ze het ‘Verdrag van Versailles’ en beide artikelen veroor¬deelden. Ook van Duitse zijde werd destijds uiteraard een vloed van feiten aangedra¬gen. De Weimanregering stelde zelfs een Parle¬mentaire Enquêtecommissie in die op¬dracht kreeg de schuld¬vraag te analyse¬ren waarbij ze gebrui¬k¬ maakte van de beëdigde verkla¬ringen van de belang¬rijkste betrokke¬nen. Tenslotte waren daar dan ook nog publica¬ties van enkele Britse en Franse schrijvers en historici die hun steentje bijdroegen aan de herzieningsgedachte.

Hun stem echter werd niet gehoord, Aan hun argumenten werd uiteindelijk geen aandacht besteed, de tijd was er niet rijp voor en de pogingen om tot herziening van de schuldvraag te komen werkten alleen maar averechts.
Daar kwam nog bij dat in de dertiger jaren, met de opkomst van het nationaal-socialisme,het uitdragen van de dolkstoot¬theorie door de nazi's en hun verklaringen dat de Duitsers verraden zouden zijn, olie op het vuur betekende. Men was nu nog minder dan ooit geneigd de oorza¬ken van de Eerste Wereld¬oorlog nog eens nauwkeurig te onderzoeken en de later gepleegde schanddaden van de nazi's in de Tweede Wereldoorlog versterk¬ten die antihouding natuurlijk nog verder.

Pas in de zestiger jaren van de twintigste eeuw kwam er weer wat meer belangstel¬ling voor het onderwerp maar door de publicatie van ‘Griff nach der Weltmacht’ van de Duitse historicus Fritz Fischer, die de schuld en verantwoordelijkheid voor de Eerste Wereldoorlog weer voornamelijk bij Duitsland legde, ontstond er een enorme discussie tussen voor- en tegen¬standers die echter niet leidde tot een eenduidig en duidelijk stand¬punt.
Fischers publicatie maakte veel indruk en wellicht dienen we hier dan ook de oorzaak te zoeken van het m.i geweldige historische manco dat thans voor ons ligt namelijk het feit dat de waarheid over de schuldvraag nog steeds niet echt boven tafel is gekomen. En ook dat is weer uiterst merkwaardig omdat er niet alleen grote kritiek mogelijk is op Fischers stand¬punten, die overi¬gens voor een deel al weer zijn achter¬haald, maar vooral omdat er een over¬weldigende hoeveelheid bronnen be¬schikbaar is gekomen die aan duidelijkheid niets te wensen overlaten.
Men zou denken dat de historicus welhaast tot herinterpretatie gedwongen wordt wil hij althans de consequen¬ties trekken uit de ‘verklaring van Verdun’ en uit het nu toch wel algemeen erkende feit dat de stelling dat Duitsland de enige schuldige is geweest, niet houdbaar is gebleken.

Ook de wetenschap dat in de meeste officiële staatsdocumenten uit die tijd (de z.g kleurboeken) dé facto grove vervalsingen voorkomen en de erkenning dat de officiële Britse geschied¬schrijving over de Eerste Wereldoorlog (Edmonds) onbetrouw¬baar is gebleken, leidde niet tot een herwaar¬dering van het verdrag van Versail¬les met uitzondering van enkele spora¬di¬sche publicaties over de werkelijke gang van zaken.

Het is tegen deze achter¬grond dat ik al jaren lang pleit om de bronnen en documenten opnieuw tegen het licht te houden en te vergelijken om na te gaan of de rol van met name de aan de oorlog deelne¬mende geallieerde landen nog wel klopt met de gangbare mening die vandaag de dag nog steeds door velen als de enige juiste wordt geciteerd. Ik pleit voor een nieuw en neutraal onderzoek naar de oorzaken van het ontstaan van de Eerste Wereld¬oorlog omdat ik van mening ben dat de gangbare visie te veel gebaseerd is op met name Brits bronnenmateriaal, materiaal dat in veel gevallen blijkt onbetrouwbaar, eenzijdig en selectief te zijn. (Op de website van de SSEW heb ik daar enkele voorbeelden van gegeven.)

De in 1925 door het Amerikaanse blad "Cleveland Plain Dealer" ge¬stelde vraag:

‘If Germany is not the offender,how are the millions of soldiers who bore arms against Germany, going to justify the war they fought, to their children and grand children?’

blijft actueel en wellicht zou zo’n door mij genoemd nieuw en neutraal onderzoek nieuw licht kunnen doen schijnen op deze pijnlijke vraag. Dat zou, bijna 100 jaar na het begin van dat drama dat wij thans Eerste Wereldoorlog noemen, m.i geen overbodige luxe zijn. In mijn boeken “De andere waarheid”en “De Mythe van 1918” heb ik gepoogd de discussie daarover alvast een aanzet te geven.
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Andriessen



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BerichtGeplaatst: 18 Mei 2010 19:53    Onderwerp: Versailles Reageer met quote

Met verontschuldiging voor de vreemde foutjes in de tekst. Als rechtgeaard digibeet begrijp ik niet hoe die er in komen want in de originele tekst zie ik ze niet terug.
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BerichtGeplaatst: 02 Jan 2011 21:20    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

Paris Peace Conferences, 1919

The Paris Peace Conference of 1919 was a conference organized by the victors of World War
One to negotiate the peace treaties between the Allied and Associated Powers and the
defeated Central Powers. The conference opened on 18 January 1919 and lasted until 21
January 1920 with a few intervals.

Lees verder op http://fcweb.sd36.bc.ca/~mah_d/ParisPeaceConf_Readings.pdf
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BerichtGeplaatst: 07 Jan 2011 23:13    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

When asked how he thought he had done at the Versailles Conference, Lloyd George replied: "Not badly, considering I was seated between Jesus Christ and Napoleon."

Ongedateerd, http://www.johndclare.net/peace_treaties3.htm
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BerichtGeplaatst: 12 Nov 2012 7:59    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

The Treaty of Versailles finally brought an end to hostilities between Germany and the Allies in World War I and was signed in 1919. If you are interested, you can read the text of it through this site:

http://net.lib.byu.edu/~rdh7/wwi/versailles.html
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