HOW THE PEACE IS BEING ENFORCED
THE Treaty of Versailles came into force on January 10, 1920. Since then the Allied Governments have on several occasions declared their common determination to enforce it absolutely. I reproduce here the most important of these declarations:
1. Ministerial Statement by Millerand's Cabinet (January 22, 1920).
2. Speech by Mr. Lloyd George (March 25, 1920) :
My right honourable friend, Mr. Asquith, stated that the time had come to revise the terms of peace. These terms need no revision whatever. . . First of all, Germany must clearly prove that she intends to carry out the Treaty to the full limit of her resources.
3. Resolution passed in the French Chamber of Deputies by 518 votes to seventy (March 27, 1920) :
The Chamber, approving the statements of the Government, and relying upon them to secure, in agreement with the Allied and Associated Powers, the strict enforcement of the Treaty of Versailles ............
4. Declaration of the Allied Governments at San Remo (April 26, 1920) :
The Allied Governments have unanimously decided fully to maintain the clauses of the Treaty of Versailles.
5. Speech by M. Millerand (April 28, 1920) :
The first condition for the Spa Conference is that any idea of revising the Treaty of Versailles should be formally excluded. It is not a matter of revising the Treaty, but of applying it.
6. Notes sent from Boulogne by the Allied Governments to the German Government (June 22, 1920) :
The Allied Governments surely and simply confirm their former decisions. The military clauses of the Treaty of Versailles are fully maintained. They must be strictly carried out.
These very firm declarations have been persistently belied by subsequent events. The Treaty of Versailles contained clauses of two kinds. Some were enforceable forthwith and they were all enforced absolutely and without delay, thanks to the preliminary steps taken in 1919 by M. Clemenceau. Other clauses on the contrary by their very nature entailed a certain delay and their enforcement was to begin in January, 1920. The most important of these clauses dealt with surrender of war criminals, disarmament of Germany and reparations.
The first capitulation of the Allies which prepared and made way for others occurred on January 13, 1920. It was in connection with the delivery to the Allies of the war criminals guilty of offenses committed in violation of international law and of the rules of warfare. To this provision which gave to the Treaty of Versailles the character of a verdict against Germany for her crimes, no Government had attached greater importance than the British. It was Mr. Lloyd George who in 1918, in a series of impassioned addresses, had rallied his fellow-citizens to the cry of "Hang the Kaiser!" a fit reply to the German "Gott strafe England!" It was the representative of Great Britain, Sir Ernest Pollock, who, in the eleven meetings of the Commission on Responsibilities, from February 3 to March 29, 1919, had uncompromisingly maintained the full demand for the surrender of the war criminals which was opposed by the American delegates. It was the British Prime Minister who, at seven meetings of the Council of Four from April 1 to May 5, demanded and obtained the strengthening of the proposals submitted by the Commission. It was Mr. Philip Kerr, Secretary to Mr. Lloyd George, who on June 16, 1919, wrote the letter in reply to Count von Brockdorff-Rantzau's protests stating that the Allies maintained their decisions. These documents ought to be quoted. On May 29, 1919, Count von Brockdorff-Rantzau wrote as follows:
The German Government cannot agree to a German being brought before a special foreign court of law.... Nor can the German Government give its assent to a request being sent to the Government of the Netherlands requesting the surrender of a German to a foreign Power, with a view to unwarranted proceedings being taken against him.... If there be grounds for satisfaction by the punishment of certain persons individually culpable, the injured State should not inflict such punishment itself. It can merely demand such punishment from the State responsible for the guilty party. Germany has never refused and declares herself entirely ready to take such steps as to ensure all violations of the law of nations being prosecuted with the utmost rigour.
On June 16, 1919, the Allied Governments replied as follows:
The Powers consider that it is inadmissible to entrust the trial of those directly responsible for offenses against humanity and international right to their accomplices in their crimes .......
On June 28, 1919, Messrs. Hermann Muller and Bell signed the Treaty which, in accordance with the text handed on the seventh of May to Count von Brockdorff, provided for the trial of the ex-Emperor and the other criminals by an international court of law. On February 13, 1920, the Allied Powers gave up their demand for the surrender of the Kaiser and authorized the Government of the Reich to bring the other criminals to trial before the Court of Leipzig---that is to say, to allow them to be tried by those who, on June 16, 1919, they had called "their accomplices in their crimes." Everybody knows that at the end of 1920 not a single one of these criminals had been tried. Germany with the assent of the Allies had torn up an essential clause of the Treaty. This was the reward of her resistance and an encouragement to renew it. On February 21, 1920, I wrote: "The same thing is going to be repeated either against the Military Control Commission or the Reparations Commission. " This is precisely what happened.
March 10, 1920, marked a time limit of capital importance for disarmament. Not only on this date was the supply of munitions to be limited to 1,500 and 500 rounds per gun, according to caliber, in the few strongholds still retained; the disarmament of all fortresses in the demilitarized zone east of the Rhine; the suppression of military schools. But also and above all, March 10 was the date on which, under Article 169, Germany was to have delivered up to the Allies for destruction all arms, munitions and material of war in excess of the quantities authorized, besides all machinery and tools used in their production. On the same date she was to have given up all captures effected by her during the war. April 10 marked the expiration of a second time limit. On that date Germany under Article 163 was to have reduced the total of her effectives to 200,000 men. The meaning of this obligation was clearly defined in a note from the Supreme Council, dated December 1, 1919, signed by M. Clemenceau, in which Germany was called upon to suppress immediately on the coming into force of the Treaty all auxiliary corps (Einwohnerwehren, Nothilfe, Sicherheitspolizei, etc.) which Noske had for four months been perfidiously forming. The Allies intended that at the expiration of the time limit there should remain in Germany only 200,000 men in all, without camouflage. Even this figure under Article 160 was to be still further reduced three months later to 100,000.
History will ever be amazed at the fact that for four months nothing was done by the Allies either to demand the execution of these two measures or to enforce them when the time came. For four months the Council of the Allies met uninterruptedly at London. On two occasions all the heads of the Governments were present together. Not once, however, did these meetings result in a reminder to Germany either by word or deed that the Allies insisted upon her disarmament and would not permit her to elude it. Not once was she solemnly and publicly summoned to fulfill the undertakings to which she had subscribed., Things were allowed to drift. To be sure the Military Commission which M. Clemenceau had sent to Germany as far back as November, 1919, was still at Berlin. But it is clear that, alone and unsupported by those who sent it, the clear that, Commission was inevitably powerless. It is forced to confine itself to technical discussions which the Prime Ministers never once raised to the level of politics, it was condemned in advance to be sterile. The Governments did not bring to bear the united pressure which they alone had power to exert.
When at the end of July, 1920, the Spa Conference met, the Allies were able to see the effects of their policy. German military legislation had not been changed. No law had been passed either to abolish conscription or comply with the obligation concerning reserves. Under guise of Reichswehr and other auxiliary formations, the Army still numbered nearly a million men, instead of 100,000. As to artillery, more than 15,000 guns remained to be delivered and destroyed. As to aviation, only 900 aeroplanes out of 10,000 had been delivered. Allied officers assaulted in several German cities in March had received neither apology nor satisfaction. Four months later, in November, 1920, some progress had been made with the destruction of artillery but the Einwohnerwehren and Sicherheitspolitzei wore neither disarmed nor dissolved.
This also encouraged Germany in the great financial offensive she was preparing to launch. In eluding the disarmament clauses she was prompted mainly by sentiment; for she could not possibly hope that her shortcomings, no matter how numerous, could enable her to begin war anew. But on the contrary in regard to reparation, every breach of the Treaty, every month gained, every clause eluded, was a positive asset in the great economic struggle by which Germany, her means of production untouched, hoped to achieve future victory.(50) By non-payment, by non-delivery of raw materials, Germany was sharpening her economic sword. By urging acceptance of a lump-sum, that is to say the arbitrary reduction of her debt, she lightened her liabilities and increased her assets. By concentrating her efforts against the Reparation Commission which was to force upon her a system that would enable her to pay, she was destroying the Allies' means of action. This plan was vast and obvious. At nearly every point Germany, in 1920, won the game.
Although by the nature of things time limits for Reparations were longer than for disarmament, certain things (and not the least important) were to have been done by Germany either immediately the Treaty came into force or within a time limit of three months, i. e., before April 10, 1920. Here, as in the case of disarmament, it is clear that performance could be counted upon only if Germany were made to understand that she would not be permitted escape. In these all important matters the Allies displayed the same weakness as in the case of the war criminals and of disarmament. For months nothing was done or even attempted. Nothing by the Governments, nothing by the Reparations Commission. And yet the Powers in 1919 had made known their will in the most forceful and clearest possible manner. They had replied to the German counter proposals as follows:
The proposals of the Allies confine the amount payable by Germany to what is clearly justifiable under the terms of the Armistice ......
The Allied and Associated Powers, consistent with their policy already expressed, decline to enter into a discussion of the principles underlying the reparation clauses.
The categories of damages and the clauses concerning reparation must be accepted by the German authorities as matters settled beyond all discussion ............
The Allied and Associated Powers will not entertain arguments or appeals directed to any alteration ........
Beyond this, the Allied and Associated Powers cannot be asked to go. The draft Treaty must be accepted as definitive and must be signed....
On June 28, 1919, Messrs. Hermann Muller and Bell signed the Treaty which, by Article 232, binds Germany without limitation or reservation, either as to amounts or duration of the payments, to make full reparation for all damages to persons and property and to pay the total amount of pensions---that is to say, for France alone according to the estimates put forward in May, 1920, by M. Millerand, about 200,000 million francs. Despite this, on May 15, 1920, it was announced that the British and French Governments had agreed to consider a lump sum which made impossible the full payment of damages and pensions imposed upon Germany, both by the Armistice and by the Treaty of Peace itself. Again Count von Brockdorff-Rantzau. had his revenge! At the end of 1920 the same vacillation in principle marked the Brussels Conference.
And what has been done on the other hand towards the future enforcement of the financial terms of peace? Here again the evidence is plain. To make this clear I reproduce the articles of the Treaty which the Reparation Commission is bound to apply to force Germany to pay.
Art. 236. Germany further agrees to the direct application of her economic resources to reparation.
Art. 248. A first charge upon all the assets and revenues of the German Empire and its constituent States shall be the cost of reparation, etc.
Para. B. Art. 12, Annex 11. The sums for reparation which Germany is required to pay shall become a charge upon all her revenues prior to that for the service or discharge of any domestic loan.
Art. 260. The Reparation Commission may within one year from the coming into force of the present Treaty demand that the German Government become possessed of any rights and interests of the German nationals in any public utility undertaking or in any concession, operating in Roumania, China, Turkey, Austria-Hungary and Bulgaria.
Art. 12. Paragraph B., Annex IL The German scheme of taxation shall be fully as heavy proportionately as that of any of the Powers represented on the Commission.
Annex II, Art. 12. The Commission shall have all the powers conferred upon it, and shall exercise all the functions assigned to it by the present Treaty.
Art. 240. The German Government will supply to the Commission all the information which the Commission may require relative to the financial situation and operations, and to the property, productive capacity, and stocks and current production of raw materials and manufactured articles.
Art. 241. Germany undertakes to pass, issue and maintain in force any legislation, orders and decrees that may be necessary to give complete effect to these provisions.
Art. 18, Annex II. The measures which the Allied and Associated Powers shall have the right to take, in case of voluntary default by Germany, and which Germany agrees not to regard as acts of war, may include economic and financial prohibitions and reprisals and in general such other measures as the respective Governments may determine to be necessary in the circumstances.
What has the Reparation Commission done with all these means of action in eleven months? Nothing or almost nothing.
1. Making up Germany's account. This essential function of the Reparation Commission has not been fulfilled and, despite reiterated demands of our Parliament the Reparation Commission has declared itself incapable of furnishing this account.
2. Means of payment., (a) Coal, I shall show below(51) that as a result of the Spa agreement coal has lost its value as a means of payment because for the 24,000,000 tons to be delivered a year the Allies have to disburse 4,170 millions in premiums and advances. (b) Live stock, The French Minister of the Liberated Regions informed the Senate on December 16, 1920, that for the deliveries under Paragraph 2 of Annex 4 to Chapter 8 of the Treaty he had forwarded his demands to the Reparations Commission in March, 1920. It was in December, 1920, that the Reparations Commission "laid down the conditions under which these deliveries would be made." This delay is all the more extraordinary in that the immediate deliveries under Article 6 of Annex 4 had been regularly made. (c) Tonnage. The Finance Commission of the Chamber wrote in its report of June 14, 1920, "as far as we are aware the Reparations Commission has not yet notified the German Government of the amount of tonnage to be laid down in the first two years following the coming into force of the Treaty." (Paragraph 5 of Annex 3). (d) German assets abroad. These assets estimated at 12,000 millions at least are a valuable means of payment. The Finance Commission in its report quoted above wrote, "Germany's capacity to pay by means of assets abroad ought to be immediately investigated by the experts of the Reparations Commission."
3. Supervision and modification of Germany's economic and financial systems. This---as I have said and as I repeat---was the fundamental task of the Reparations Commission. To accomplish it, it was given the fullest powers as evidenced by the text I have quoted above. It was armed to force Germany in the words of Lord Cunliffe, c, Governor of the Bank of England and British Delegate to the Peace Conference, to "organize herself as an exporting nation for the payment of her reparation debts." It was the only way in which Germany could possibly pay a debt of more than 300,000 millions. To this end the Reparations Commission was given the right and entrusted with the duty of supervising Germany's budget, her revenues, her expenditures, her production, her exports, her imports; the right and the duty to institute all measures of a nature to assure payment. What has it done with this right, what has it done to fulfill this duty?
Statistics drawn up last summer by the League of Nations proved that the individual German is less burdened by taxation than the individual Englishman or Frenchman. German interior loans continue to draw interest---money that belongs to the Reparations Commission. The prior lien on all property and assets of the German States has never been foreclosed. No change has been insisted upon in the German legislation to give effect to this privilege. Germany has even been allowed to lend money to neutrals. Quite recently M. Guy de Wendel, a member of the French Parliament, startled the Chamber by showing how the German Government by subsidizing its industries managed instead of paying its debts to compete with its creditors by dumping exports.
Not an initiative. Not even the least firmness, for firmness presupposes some effort---and no effort has been made. If things are thus: if the Reparations Commission which is composed of very distinguished men, which is provided with a numerous staff, liberally paid, and is supplied with enormous credits has displayed such impotence it is because, expecting the revision of the Treaty from day to day, it has had no heart to enforce it. Here again politics whose present results I have described prepares the same evil consequences for the future.
To these concessions by omission, further concessions by commission were added. The coal problem furnished the pretext, Spa the occasion. The quantities of coal to be delivered by Germany had been fixed by the Treaty at an average of 3,500,000 tons per month. The Reparations Commission taking Germany's difficulties into consideration had agreed to reduce this quantity to 2,400,000 tons. The Spa agreement still further reduced it to 2,000,000---about to what (within about 300,000 tons) had been proposed by Count Brockdorff-Rantzau on May 19, 1919. The reduction thus granted is forty-three per cent. of the amount written in the Treaty. At the same time to the stipulation that the coal delivered by Germany should be valued at German pit mouth prices the Spa agreement substituted a price increased by fixed premiums and variable advances ---both equally unwarranted. The premium of five marks (gold) per ton (francs 13.75) was granted in exchange for an alleged right given, the Allies' demand "coals of specific classified qualities." Now they were already entitled to this under Paragraph 10, Schedule 5, of Chapter 8 of the Treaty, giving the Reparations Commission power to decide all disputes concerning qualities. Under this paragraph the Allies had from the very beginning paid the sliding scale applied to the various qualities of coal and did that according to the German interior price scale. Under the Spa agreement, they are to pay a yearly increase of (francs 13.75 x twenty-four millions tons) or 330 million francs, 266 millions of which is France's share. The advances granted were still more onerous and had more far-reaching effects. The Spa Conference decided that the Allies would grant Germany "advances the amount of which shall be equal to the difference between the German inland market price plus the premium of five marks (gold) and the export price F. O. B. German port, or F. O. B. English port, and in any case the lower of these two prices." The cost of the operation was as follows:
English export price Frs. 240. German pit mouth price Frs. 70. Premium fixed at Spa Frs. 13.75 Total inland price after Spa Conference Frs. 83.75 Difference between the two prices Frs. 156.25
The advances therefore represented (francs 156.25 x 2,000,000 tons) or 312,500,000 francs a month. As under the Spa agreement, France was to furnish sixty-one per cent. of these advances she was obliged to appropriate 190,625,000 francs a month or about 2,287 million francs a year. In all taking France alone into consideration she found herself charged for the 1,600,000 tons she was to receive monthly with:
German inland market price 1,600,000 X 70 =112,000,000 Premiums 1,600,000 X 13.75 = 22,000,000 Advances ........61% of 2,000,000 X 156.25 =190,625,000
So to obtain valuable consideration to the amount of 112,000,000 francs which under the Treaty of Versailles she was to receive without having any payment to make, France was thenceforward to pay 22,000,000 francs in premiums and 190,625,000 francs in advances every month.
This revision of the Treaty, onerous as are its immediate consequences, has an even more serious effect. In the first place it runs counter to one of the essential principles of the Treaty of Peace, that reparations take precedence over German needs and that especially in the case of coal Germany is bound up to twenty million tons yearly to make good in absolute priority the French shortage caused by the systematic destruction of French mines in the North by the German Army. On the contrary the Spa agreement gave Germany, which in 1920 was satisfying her own coal needs to a greater extent than those of France (sixty-eight per cent. as against fifty-five per cent.), the right to special assistance to increase her industrial production. In other words, whereas the Treaty specified that deliveries to the Allies should be made before Germany's needs were attended to, the Spa Conference authorized Germany to serve herself first. In the second place coal has ceased to benefit the Reparation Fund as a means of payment; for either in the form of premiums or of advances, the Allies are obliged to make for every ton a cash disbursement exceeding the value of the coal received.
Finally the increase granted to Germany has resulted in the consolidation of British export prices. During the Paris Conference the French delegates had two main objects in view in regard to coal. The first was to put an end to the pre-war situation which permitted German industry controlling both coal and coal prices to blackmail French industry. That is why after long discussions they had obtained that the coal to be delivered by Germany under the Treaty should be reckoned at German inland prices. The second was to protect France against the rise in English export prices, which had just begun and has gone on increasing ever since. These guarantees were provided and agreed to after much opposition, but the Spa Convention reversed the situation. The premium of five marks (gold) per ton has handicapped French industry as compared with German industry to the extent of ninety per cent. The advances calculated on the English export price have strengthened the latter which is so high that Great Britain is able to supply her domestic consumers at less than cost price. The Spa agreement not only deprived France of the right to pay for German coal at the same rate as German industry, it bereft her also of all means of reducing the price of English coal by competition.
So revision---unmistakable revision---revision demanded not only by Germany but by one of our Allies---a revision at first implicitly tolerated and afterwards explicitly accepted has been the policy of the Allies in 1920 notwithstanding official talk about enforcement. The only clauses of the Treaty which have been enforced are those which went into effect prior to its coming into force on January 10, 1920, or those whose application in every little detail had been prepared by the Supreme Council of the Allies in 1919 (Schleswig, Upper Silesia, etc.). For the rest, carelessness, party spirit and lack of unity have played into Germany's hands, encouraged Pan-Germanist forces and delayed the coming of the new order of which the Treaty of Versailles had laid the foundations.
To excuse this failure two arguments are in turn employed. At times it is said that the peace is impossible of execution; at times that it is an unjust peace. This doctrine has its Bible and its Priests---let us see what it is worth.
An impossible peace! It was enforced in 1919 in its essential clauses. The reduction of German territory by 84,000 square kilometers? Enforced. The return of Alsace and Lorraine to France free of all charges; the return to Poznan. to Poland; the return of the Walloon cantons to Belgium? Enforced. Enforced also the rupture of governmental ties between the Sarre and Prussia: the plebiscite of Schleswig; the installation of the Plebiscite Commission in Upper Silesia.
Enforced also the occupation by Allied troops and the control by an Inter-allied High Commission presided over by a Frenchman of the left bank of the Rhine and the bridgeheads; the dismantlement of the fortresses of the neutral zone; the surrender of the fleet.
Other clauses, it was true, could only by their very nature be enforced progressively and within a certain lapse of time. But what do we see? At the very time when Germany was declaring these clauses impossible of execution, she was nevertheless obliged to execute them despite the weakness of the Allies. Let us take the period of the financial application of the peace which opened on January 10, 1920, when it came into force and will end on May 1, 1921. What were during the period the essential obligations of Germany?
1. To return the money, securities, live stock and goods of all nature carried off, seized, or sequestrated which could be identified, this restitution not being credited to Germany in the reparations account. (Articles 238-239 and 243 of the Treaty.)
2. To pay to the Allies on account of reparations 20,000 million marks gold either in gold, in goods, in tonnage, in securities or otherwise. (Article 235 of the Treaty.)
What has become of these two obligations?
1. Restitutions. The amount of securities, moneys and valuable assets identified and recovered from Germany totalled 8,300 million francs on May 31, 1920, to which were to be added 500,000 tons of machinery and raw material. (Report of the Finance Commission of the French Chamber, June 14, 1920.)
2. Reparations. On July 20, 1920, before the same commission Mr. FranÁois Marsal, French Minister of Finance, questioned on the total amount of payments made by Germany on account of reparations, declared that he did not have the exact figure. He added, however, that in his opinion Germany had already paid about 10,000 millions. Since then the Finance Commission, despite reiterated demands, has been unable to obtain an accounting of German payments. The most competent of its members estimate the total at about 12,000 or 14,000 millions as of December 31, 1920.
What conclusions are we to draw from this? Germany, with grace that is bad and faith that is worse, has been obliged by the mere existence of a Treaty enforced without conviction by its beneficiaries to comply with her undertakings to an extent that makes it extremely probable that on May 1, 1921, she will have fulfilled for the most part the financial obligations imposed upon her up to that date. Yet this is the very time that Germany chooses to declare the Treaty impossible of execution. How can one fail to see that the fear of having to execute the Treaty is responsible for this attitude? If Germany clamours so loudly that the financial clauses of the Treaty are impossible of execution, it is because she knows that, if they are enforced, they will be efficacious. If Germany asks that the Treaty be changed, it is because she knows that, in its present form, it obliges her to pay. If Germany decoys us to revision, it is because she feels that without revision she will have to pay sooner or later. A hypothetical statement? No---although our experience of Germany fully warrants it---but a fact based upon figures which the Allied peoples have not the right to ignore. The intent is clear. No one has a right to be duped by it. And yet the Allies have allowed themselves to be taken in by it, and they have meekly followed Germany to the various revision meetings in which she ensnares them. Better still Parliaments and Press echo with the assertion---sweet music to German ears-that Germany will not pay. Instead of proclaiming that she can pay, that present events prove that for the future it is enough to insist that she can pay---she has been allowed to have her way. Facts and figures which upset her contentions and confirm ours have been hidden.
We went to Brussels in December, 1920, as we had been to Spa, lured by an axiom, "made in Germany,"---and alas echoed in France for the satisfaction of political spite---that the Treaty was impossible of execution. And yet what happened? For the time being, that is to say for the period between January 10, 1920, and May 1, 1921, there is every probability that it will be carried out almost to the letter, for up to June 30, 1920, Germany had already paid more than half of the 20,000 millions. That for to-morrow, that is to say for the payment to be made after May 1, 1921, none of the means of action which the Treaty provides has been either utilized or even prepared. During all the year 1920, the givers of advice have flocked to Government and newspaper offices, each bringing his own little "plan of reparations." The only plan that counts is in the Treaty of Versailles. Facts prove both that this plan is possible of execution and that little indeed is being done to execute it. But let us stick to it. It is a plan which, however spinelessly applied, has already made Germany give back 9,000 millions of loot to France alone and pay some 12,000 millions of reparations to the Allies as a whole. It is better than the other plan under which, by the Spa agreement, the Allies are obliged to pay Germany more than 4,000 millions a year.
So much for the first criticism that the peace is an impossible one. What shall we say of the second: that it is an unjust peace which violates all the principles of the, Allies? Here again answer is easy. A peace imposed upon aggressor nations by nations attacked; a peace which places reparations to the account of the guilty, whose responsibility it proclaims; a peace which liberates Alsace and Lorraine, restores Belgium, brings Bohemia and Poland to life, and emancipates the oppressed populations of Transylvania, Croatia, Slovenia, the Trentino, Istria and Schleswig: a peace which conclusively proves that militarism does not pay,---such a peace is a sound peace, such a peace is a just peace.
However, let us not be deceived. These contentions whether put forward on political or on economic grounds are always pro-German arguments. "Capacity of payment," put forward to give the oppressor the benefits of his recovery; "economic solidarity," all the benefits of which go to the beaten foe; and "the reorganization of Europe" which makes European prosperity dependent upon German prosperity---these are the prize pro-German arguments. A German argument, too, that relating to the uselessness of small states and the "law of concentration!" An argument we used to read over the signatures of von B¸low and Bernhardi, before meeting it again over Mr. Keynes' name in connection with Dantzig, Upper Silesia the Germans of Bohemia or the Hungarians of Transylvania. An argument that is merely the German motto: "Woe to the weak!" Millions of Allied soldiers fell fighting against it. Should the makers of the peace become its converts after victory? Feigned indignation over alleged violations of principles will dupe those only who wish to be duped, it will not bear investigation. It is quite true that there are Germans in Dantzig, Upper Silesia and Bohemia, but who did not know beforehand that there would be? Who does not know that this is the necessary consequence of two centuries of German oppression and colonization? Who does not know of the mingling of races throughout Central Europe, due not only to long centuries of war, but also to the systematic policy of the Prussian Government?
And so there have been established by force and by ruse in Polish or Czech territory those German colonies which in time and by method have in certain places passed from minorities to majorities. What then was the position of the victorious Powers? They had promised in solemn declarations which in November, 1918, became the very bases of the Treaty of Peace to establish an independent Poland with access to the sea; an independent Bohemia within her historic frontiers. These promises had been approved by the Parliaments and by the peoples. They had to be kept and there was nothing to do but to leave a certain number of Germans or Magyars in Poland, Bohemia, Roumania and Jugo-Slavia. This had to be, for if the territories in which these Germans lived had been cut off from either Poland or Bohemia, neither of these nations could have formed a state. If Dantzig had remained German, Poland would have had no seaport. If the Germans of Bohemia had been separated from the Czecho-Slovakian that state would have had no frontiers. So unless the most solemn promises were to be repudiated, German minorities had to be included within the boundaries of the emancipated countries. Were these minorities to be excluded? Then there would be no Poland and no Bohemia. The promise would have been broken and to whose detriment? To the detriment of those who forcibly deprived of their liberty had for centuries awaited the just redress of their wrongs. And who would have profited thereby? Those who for centuries had professed that might makes right.
So the principle was unassailable. Fault has, it is true, been found with its application, and it is said: "In all such cases there ought to have been a plebiscite." In many cases that is exactly what was done. In other cases it could not be done. Why? Because the plebiscite---while confirming what was already known without it---would not have altered the dilemma I have just defined. No plebiscite was required to prove the existence of German minorities either in Poland or in Bohemia. But with or without a plebiscite the same difficulty remained, i. e.---the impossibility of recreating without these minorities a Bohemia or a Poland likely to last. With or without a plebiscite nations long-enthralled whose emancipation had been sworn would have been annihilated, and annihilated with refined hypocrisy by refusing them the means of existence just when they were being given a new life. This the Conference refused to do and it was right in so refusing. Nothing was left undone to limit an evil which could not be entirely avoided. First by careful inquiry the frontiers of the liberated nations were so defined as to comprise the smallest possible number of alien peoples. Then whenever the inclusion of districts peopled mostly by Germans was not vital, recourse was always had to a plebiscite. This was the case in Schleswig, Upper Silesia, Marienwerder and Allenstein, where as events have proved insufficient precautions were taken against German fraud. Finally, when ethnic minorities were placed under the sovereignty of another race their rights were surrounded by guarantees so far-reaching that the interested Governments denounced them as a violation of their rights. Such the bases of the Treaty. What others could have been suggested without betraying the war aims of the Allies, without sacrificing the victims of centuries of German might to the Germans themselves, without strengthening the bondage of these victims to their tyrants?
How can it be denied moreover that after a war which for five years had raised national aspirations to the highest pitch, the Treaty of Versailles makes a praiseworthy effort to conciliate the appeals of the future with the demands of the past? For the first time the need of international cooperation is recognized whether for Colonial administration, communications by land and water, labour legislation or means of preventing war. For the first time also instead of attempting like the Holy Alliance to build for all time, an agency was created by the Treaty itself for future evolution and improvement. I shall have something to say later, with special reference to the ratification of the Treaty by the United States, about the League of Nations.(52) How from a higher standpoint can one ignore the fact that the whole world looked to victory not only to end the war but also to organize peace? How would it be organized! There were many who, without even suspecting it, felt the necessity for such an organization. As Mr. Lloyd George said after visiting the battlefields: "In presence of so many ruins one understands that after all some other way must be found to settle disputes between nations." That was precisely the feeling of struggling humanity---the aspiration of all who having waged war did not wish it to begin again. It was President Wilson Is sympathy with this aspiration of the conscience of mankind that accounted for the immense popularity he enjoyed after the Armistice. Whatever one may think of the enactments embodied in Chapter I of the Treaty of Versailles; whatever one may think of the terms of the Covenant, no one can deny the universal aspiration echoed therein.
What does the result amount to? France though often accused of systematic hostility to the League of Nations has proved by her acts that she wanted something more and something better than the Conference gave. France it was who persistently demanded the creation of an international military force, the organization of permanent supervision over national Armies. France it was who from first to last urged the logical and clear solution without which the influence of any League of Nations is necessarily restricted. The French proposals were rejected by the very Powers who were supposed to champion the idea to which France as represented as being opposed. To tell the truth the reception accorded by the United States Senate to a milder Covenant than that proposed by the French representatives, relieves me from dwelling upon the reasons of parliamentary prudence which led Mr. Wilson to oppose M. Leon Bourgeois' amendments.
The Covenant is a timid effort--- though thought by some to be too daring---towards an improved organization of international relations. However imperfect, it may still serve as a basis for future solutions. In the Sarre, for instance, it has already given positive results. To be sure, the decision of the United States Senate deprived the League of Nations of an essential element of authority; and the limitation of its powers justifies M. Clemenceau in having refused to look upon it for the present as an adequate guarantee. But the way is clear for further progress. In what direction will the evolution made possible by Article 26 of the Covenant proceed? It would be rash to form a judgment in advance. But, no matter how real the difficulty, so strongly emphasized by the policy of the United States, of conciliating a supreme international law with the sovereignty of nations, the fact remains that whoever is not deaf to the demands of the future must by patient labour prepare for the coming of such a law.
The Treaty of Versailles furnished a plan which though incomplete and imperfect, nevertheless constitutes the first united step towards world legislation taken by Governments. This also emphasizes the liberal tendency which marks the Treaty of Peace. It has been said that this tendency was repudiated at the very moment of its assertion by the fact that Germany is not a member of the League. Who does not feel that following an international crime like that of 1914, a probationary period was the least that could be demanded of its perpetrator? Not one of the Powers that signed the Treaty of Versailles but hopes to see Germany grow worthy by reform of her institutions and of her mentality to become a member of the league of the Nations she once dreamed of enslaving. But that time is not yet come. Two years after the Armistice Germany showed no signs of repentance. Read and listen. What do we find?
Public opinion in full unrest, dominated by skilfully nourished hate which obstinately hides from her her sanguinary responsibilities and the nobility and value of voluntary amends. There are doubtless a few men here and there who discern the abyss of disappointment and ruin into which Germany will be plunged by the survival of her detestable warlike spirit. But such men are rare exceptions. Doubtless one may read now and then in the Sozialistichen Monatshefte that "the return of Alsace-Lorraine to France is by no means an outrage but an historic act of justice," or even that "it is only right to call upon German intellectuals to retract the famous manifesto of the ninety-three, as irreconcilable with a spirit of sincerity." But such opinions are lost in an ocean of disappointed ambitions, passionate incomprehension, and bitter jealousy. Germany is in the state of mind of a gambler who is a bad loser. She blames the whole world for the fault that is hers alone. France naturally comes in for a goodly portion of her hate, centuries of history are behind it. Instead of trying to understand, she is satisfied to accuse. There is no place in such a national spirit for any of that progress which might be hoped for, if a little light could penetrate the German conscience. This nation which in 1914 believed only in force now believes only in fraud.
The Treaty recorded this and was framed accordingly. Before welcoming Germany those who, at the price of their blood, averted the impending danger of her domination now have the right to insist upon certainty. And in such things certainty can only come as the result of a long series of acts. The key to Germany's redemption is in her own hands. It is only fair that this should be so.. The justice of the peace is in nowise lessened thereby,
Such are the political, economic and social bases of new France---of that France who, after the merciless war waged mainly upon her soil, wants peace and work. With these she is sure of her future---a future of reconstruction, of production and of liberty. But it is not enough for her that that future be assured, she needs it to be near. And so she must have the support in peace of those who stood shoulder to shoulder with her in war. I add that the unity she demands is not for herself alone, but is essential to all.
We have seen for months, in books and papers published in English---which although representing only a minority in their respective countries form nevertheless a noisy minority---an accusation against France, an accusation of imperialism, so vague, so indefinite, so venomous and so utterly foolish, that I blush to reply to it. Imperialism? Where? When? Why? France is the oldest of European nations---the nation whose moral unity is strongest and most coherent. And so she has no need of artificial stimulants, misused by others. For forty-three years she protested against the mutilation of 1871. Never in war nor in peace has she dreamed of inflicting such mutilation upon her enemies. France victorious---I ask my British and American friends never to forget it---has placed under her sovereignty no single human being who was not French body and soul. Within the frontiers of new Europe ethnic minorities have here and there been included for reasons of necessity I have already stated. France consented to forego any such thing and in a district like the Sarre, considerable parts of which had been French for centuries, she accepted a plebiscite. France has taken no undue advantage of her power. France has claimed only her rights. She issues from war bleeding and weakened, but true to her high ideals.
Imperialism? The threat of war? France more than any other country aspires to permanent peace. Those who say the contrary are either agents of Germany or, if they speak in good faith, know nothing of what France has suffered. They should see our ruined towns; our devastated fields; our pillaged factories; they should visit our French families mourning 1,400,000 of their dead. Then they will understand that a nation which has suffered thus from war is for all time the enemy of war.
Imperialism? People say this because French troops are to be seen in the four corners of Europe---not only on the Rhine, but in Schleswig, Upper Silesia and Carinthia. Let those who make this reproach in England and in America consult their own consciences! The Treaty, because it had to, provided an international police force for those territories, the future of which was to be decided by popular vote, an international force to be supplied by all the Powers. The United States did not ratify it. Great Britain shirked, as in Upper Silesia, the duty she had undertaken. France was left alone, or almost alone with Italy, to perform the ungrateful task of policeman of justice, thus setting an example of perfect loyalty to their pledged faith. To reproach them for this would in some cases be even more thoughtless than unjust. France has taken the Treaty of Peace seriously, just as she took the war. If others have done otherwise is France to blame?
Imperialism? In the last analysis it means that the French people demand the enforcement of the Treaty which put an end to the war. That is the real complaint against France! To this charge of imperialism France can proudly plead "Not guilty;" for it is France who here stands for justice and truth. When after six months of discussion an agreement has been signed in which each party to secure essential unanimity sacrificed some of its demands, it would be doubly immoral to go back on the pledged word; immoral because when millions of men have died to insure respect of Treaties, Governments, for whom victory was, won by these fallen heroes, cannot adopt the "scrap of paper" attitude without dishonour; immoral because sacrifices made to the principle of unanimity would be worthless if, once the Treaty came into force, its clauses were to be open to discussion. Two instances: Great Britain and the United States on June 28, 1919, promised France their military assistance in the event of aggression by Germany. Neither of these undertakings has, for reasons that are known, come into force. Is France to be accused of Imperialism because she now declares, on the strength of Article 429 of the Treaty of Versailles,(53) that under this circumstance, she will not evacuate the left bank of the Rhine? All the Allies have promised each other full and complete support for the enforcement of the financial clauses of the Treaty of Peace. One of them by its failure to ratify the Treaty is not officially represented on the Reparations Commission and another from month to month suggests subversion of France's rights. Is France to be accused of Imperialism if, holding to the Treaty, she insists by every means at her disposal, that Germany shall make good what she has destroyed?
France and her people, which some of our Press for political reasons depict as embittered and discouraged, are at work! Since 1914, the real France has been made clear in the eyes of men. Alone, almost unaided, she halted the Germans at the Marne; she lost 1,364,000 killed, 740,000 mutilated, 3,000,000 wounded and 490,000 prisoners; she had at the front in the fifty-second month of the war, 350,000 more men than in 1914; she contrived despite the loss of eighty-five per cent. of the metallurgic resources of the country, to increase the output of war material by nearly 1,500 per cent.; in two years since the Armistice, despite the burden of a debt increased from 35,000 millions to 255,000 millions, she has spent 20,000 millions on reconstruction and returned to their homes seventy-five per cent. of the people driven away by invasion. That in ten lines is what France has done. To lack faith in themselves the French would have to forget what they have done. So there can be no question of their recovery. France will recover. But she is determined to recover quickly and not to bend for fifty years beneath the burden which a just peace has placed upon other shoulders. It is of vital importance to France in her present revival to gain thirty or forty years. It is this vital importance which makes essential the enforcement of the peace; the placing of Germany in a position in which she can do no further harm; the payment by Germany for what she has destroyed. It is this vital importance which in honour binds the Allies of France to aid her in these things. Will it be difficult? Yes, doubtless, but life is a struggle. There will be resistance by the Germans? Yes, again. But is the past so quickly forgotten? Is the last fortnight of June, 1919, forgotten?(54) Is Count von Brockdorff's resistance forgotten with its accompaniment of loud protest? Is that monstrous bluff forgotten which, but for M. Clemenceau, would have been entirely successful? Forgotten also in presence of the firmness of the Allies, first the hesitation, then the lowered tone; and soon the change of teams, the arrival of MM. Muller and Bell and finally the signing? Germany will always be ready to change teams if the Allies do not change principles.
Addressing the French Parliament, M. Clemenceau made a statement on this subject which all the victors should read, learn and digest.
"A cataclysm," he said, "has overtaken the world. . . . You must not think that after such an upheaval we are going to bring you pages of writing, which one after the other will be voted, approved and ratified by the Chambers and that that will be the end of it and we shall all be able to go home; all wrongs in process of being righted, all precautions taken against a new outbreak and everybody able to say: Verily we have a paper 1 Now we can sleep! Well! Nothing of the kind! The life of mankind is not a life of sleep!
"Life is but a struggle. That struggle you can never get rid of. My idea of life is a perpetual conflict whether in war or in peace. I think it was Bernhardi who said: 'War is but politics pursued in another manner.' We can reverse the aphorism and say: 'Peace is but war pursued in another manner.'
"When a treaty comes before you, a treaty which has I don't know how many hundred clauses dealing with all kinds of questions, you must not forget that these so complex provisions will be of worth only by what you do. The Treaty will be what you make it.
"If you go to peace joyfully, as our men went to war, you will give it life; you will make it worth while, you will make it of service to mankind.
"If you waste time thinking of things which may never happen, of things that men of law love to write books about, what will happen? You will discredit the Treaty, you will discourage those who won the victory; you will make them believe that you are incapable of realizing a peace that insures safety.
"When you will have done this fine thing, you will be able to praise yourselves---nobody else will. The Treaty will be voted or will not be voted. But you will have given your country a thing of death instead of a thing of life. And if you have thought for a moment that we have been able to make a peace which will do away with the need for watchfulness between the nations of Europe which only yesterday were shedding their blood without stint upon every front, well then it means that you are unable to understand us!"
The fundamental truth dwells in these strong words. We have no choice, nor have our Allies. If we want the war and the victory to bear fruit, we must cleave to the soul of the Alliance. This is not alone a moral duty; it is an essential fact. Those unwieldy bodies at which it is the fashion to scoff, League of Nations, Reparations Commission, Military Supervisory Commission, are the means to achieve our end. They are the concrete expression of essential unity. It is their duty to bring it to pass. If they do not, the Treaty will not be enforced and, as time goes on and Germany after a half century recovers from her defeat, all the old perils of before the war will arise again for all of us, with bankruptcy into the bargain. I say all the old perils and I mean it. For France it would again be the direct threat to her national independence. But for Italy also, and Belgium and Great Britain---even for the United States---the German danger in all its insidious and penetrating forms would soon reappear in economies, politics and morals. If the unity of the Allies be broken, Germany will begin again. It is on the continent that Great Britain must defend herself against the German danger. It is in Europe that the United States finds its safeguard against the same danger. Isolated from the others no one of the victors would be certain to overcome the resistance which Germany is already preparing. Doubtless, as Roosevelt said, it is simpler for each to live at home, like a small tradesman in a little shop, than to work together. But the obligations of the war survive our military triumph and impose the same duties.
Consider France in all her glorious and bloodstained history. It was France who taught the world justice. And to justice she remains faithful. Her conception of the rules governing the relations of individuals is that which the masses aspire to see extended in the future to relations between nations. France it was who proclaimed the higher ideals of freedom of thought, equality of citizens, abolition of privileges and respect of human dignity. Consider France in 1914, taken unawares by sudden invasion, fighting for her life sans peur et sans reproche. Consider her people standing together more than four years in the most desperate struggle of all history; a people mild and strong, unselfish to excess, capable of mistakes costly to itself alone; industrious as none other; liberal, wise and free, above all loving justice. Foreigners too often judge France by the excesses of isolated individuals who do not represent the nation. The nation lives on---eternal in its pure and noble spirit. France is a democracy which has not forgotten what autocracy cost it, in 1815 as in 1871. France is a democracy which conscious of itself is determined to be true to itself and often---as very truly said by an American, Mr. Morton Fullerton---expresses as French ideals, those general ideals which civilization could not repudiate without danger.
France asks one thing only---that the pledged word be kept. While demanding it and refusing to abandon hope of obtaining it, is she idle and mourning, a prey to despair? No! She is working, without outside aid, to rebuild and to reorganize after the unheard-of ordeal through which she has passed; to rebuild and to reorganize for her own safety and for the safety of the whole world. This country is my country. Like all Frenchmen, I have the right to be proud of her, lovingly proud. But in this book I have confined myself to facts, to figures, to documents, the stern evidence of which I place before the consciences of the British and American peoples.
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