The Treaty of Versailles – The Best Documentary Ever

The Treaty of Versailles - The Best Documentary Ever



I officially came to an end with the signing of the Treaty of Versailles on 28, 1919. 32 countries had come together in Paris in 1919 to .

This BBC documentary entitled The Peacemakers is an in-depth study of the Versailles Treaty of 1919. It provides some fine insight into the process, the politics .

A video lecture overview of the Treaty of Versailles and its effects. Created for students of the Social Studies, life long learners and the cray cray on the internets.

on the 11th of November 1918 the guns fell silent the killing of the First World War stopped as an armistice with Germany was signed two months later in January 1919 delegates from all over the world came to Paris to conclude the peace settlements that would end the war six months of haggling in conference rooms climaxed with the signing of a treaty with Germany in the Hall of Mirrors at Versailles three men dominated the peace making the American President Woodrow Wilson and the French and British Prime Minister's Georges Clemenceau and David Lloyd George these peace makers have often been seen as short-sighted and vindictive whose bungling led to a chain of events which ended with Hitler and a second world war but a generation of historians like Margaret Macmillan revisiting events in Paris are challenging this view of a failed peace with Germany but a trouble with hindsight as you know how the story ends and so you look back for things that tell you that the story was bound to end this way and that's not really how events unfold these historians argue that the peace conference was a realistic attempt to shape the map of Europe in many cases they were dealing with factors way outside their control or anyone else's control outside anyone's ability to control how do you control ethnic nationalism we haven't made such a great job of it today they see Paris as a global summit with a liberal progressive agenda for the world and urge greater understanding for the peacemakers of 1919 as they face dilemmas which remain grimly familiar to us today this is their story the first world war had left 10 million dead and twice that number seriously wounded and maimed for life if you think of September the 11th but then you think of September the 11th star casualties every day for four years then you begin to get some kind of feeling of what the sort of trauma was that existed in the Western countries in the Allied countries at the time particularly in Britain and in France which had never known levels of casualties of the kind that they'd experienced between 1914 and 1918 remember these were casualties suffered by civilian armies not just by regular soldiers so every family in Britain and France would be likely to have had some experience as someone close to them we've been killed or maimed the British hadn't fought a war in Europe for a hundred years they had never anticipated that so many troops would fight for so long nearly a million soldiers from Britain and its empire were killed these losses were in numbers which had never been anticipated and the sense of outrage and the sense that this was a tragedy of the deepest order grew from 1914 to 1918 25% of france's male population between 18 and 30 was either dead or wounded the fighting had devastated whole areas of northern France the retreating Germans destroyed farms flooded mines and looted factories Germany of course had also suffered by the end of the war 1.8 million Germans were dead but in November 1918 unlike at the end of the Second World War in 1945 there was no Allied invasion of Germany the line drawn on the day of the Armistice lay through Belgium and along Germany's western borders Germany never saw allied troops on German soil the Germans themselves never saw allied troops in occupation the German army itself marched back from the frontiers in good order and was greeted by the new President of the Republic who said we welcome you hadn't been defeated so there was a feeling that victory was incomplete the Peace Conference would have to resolve this inconclusive end to the fighting and punished Germany but the wider world the peacemakers also hope to shape in Paris was in chaos not only the German Empire of the Kaiser but Franz Josef's austria-hungary the Ottoman Empire and the Russia of the czars all these power blocks had vanished by January 1919 the simultaneous collapse of four powers is unprecedented it meant that the map of Europe would not look the same in 1919 whatever the peacemakers did that this was a map which would have to be redrawn because the very blocks which had constituted Europe earlier no longer existed throughout the peace conference there was quiet on the western front but fighting continued in the east poles against Russians Romanians against Hungarians but how to deal with this Allied troops were being quickly demobilized and those who waited to go home were impatient even mutinous so during these months in Paris they were always going to be severe limits to the power of the Allied leaders three weeks after the Armistice Woodrow Wilson the American president set sail for Europe Wilson had had a meteoric rise in American politics in 1910 he was a college president yet within only three years leading the Democrats Wilson entered the White House after a period of neutrality he led America to war in April 1917 Wilson had a Presbyterian belief in punishment for Germany but he also believed in Redemption his 14 points addressed to Congress in January 1918 promised a new more open diplomacy a belief in national self-determination and the moral supremacy of democracy the speech made Wilson a symbol of hope for the future the president's arrival in December 1918 a superstar was an extraordinary event one young American on the president's staff described Wilson's reception in Paris the parade from the station to the Mira house in Rio de Moz so which is to be his official residence was accompanied by the most remarkable demonstration of enthusiasm and affection on the part of Parisians that I've ever heard of let alone seen troops cavalry and infantry' lined the entire route and tens of thousands of persons fought for a glimpse the streets were decorated with flags and banners Wilson's name was everywhere stretched across the streets from house to house he seemed to embody America and that's I think a very important factor America had entered world politics at this point and many Europeans look to it for salvation really from the ills of the old world which was very much of course the American view themselves that they were bringing peace and redemption in a way to the old world you the American delegation made its headquarters at the luxurious hotel de Clio on the Place de la Concorde life at the Clio contrasted sharply with a simple lifestyle of the Prime Minister of France Georges Clemenceau living alone in a flat across the river in the 16th arrondissement he was a very cultured man he wrote books himself he was a thinker actually he got even philosophical books you know not only memoirs and such political books he had also a big career behind him as journalist very good one he had a huge political experience and he was certainly a very witty man as Prime Minister Clemenceau had a polished contempt for the president of France Raymond Wong curry there are only two perfectly useless things in the world one is an appendix and the other is prank I and Clemenceau reveled in his own nickname the tiger II relished his Eman she did everything to enhance that image because it was a political tool for him his reputation as a killer we would say today critics of his role at the peace conference saw him also as a weari product of the old world but he'd become Prime Minister during the lowest point in the war and led France to victory when news of the Armistice was announced he put his head in his hands and wept Clemenceau had a political career which dated back to 1870 when as mayor of more mob he saw France defeated by Prussia then occupied by the new Germany so in the peace making he had one simple aim to protect France so that 1870 and 1914 would never happen again on the 11th of January 1919 the British Prime Minister David Lloyd George arrived in Paris with clemenceau and Wilson Lloyd George completed the triumvirate of power in Paris everybody who knew him always commented on ons of the the incredible amount of energy had and there's a story of gloom also going to the Opera and saying he's seen the Barber of Seville Figaro here figure of a says he's a kind of Lloyd George he was always moving about always full of energy and full of full of ideas and something like that the peace conference in Paris where he's working on a world stage was simply made for Lloyd George like Kamal so Lloyd George had come to power during the dark days of the war and had recently been reelected in coalition with the Conservatives in the car key election of December 1918 he had a reputation as a politician of infinite flexibility but there was also substance to the Welsh wizard he wanted a stable Europe Europe would not again mean that Britain had to interfere in continental matters never again was Britain to send an army of the size of the Great War Army to the continent and I think for him stability was of extreme importance Lloyd George complained about Clements hos insistence that Paris was the venue for the peacemaking I never wanted dog a conference in his bloody capital I thought it'd be better to hold it in a neutral place but the old man wept and protested so much that we gave way fantasy later admitted Paris during these six months was the time of his life he set himself up in a luxurious flat with his secretary and mistress Frances Stevenson Balfour his foreign secretary lived one floor above and got used to hearing the sound of lloyd George's favorite hymns and Negro spirituals drifting up the rest of the 400 strong British Empire delegation was based at the Hotel Majestic on the Avenue clairebear here there was an obsession with security the British still didn't really trust their French allies all that much and to ensure really maximum security they fired all the front staff of the hotel chefs included and brought in staff from the Midlands which meant that maybe they had security although that was doubtful but what it did mean was that they had really good solid British food and so they had big British breakfast with lots of oatmeal porridge and so on they had lots of boiled cabbage lots of vegetables much to the fury in fact of many of the British Empire delegation who'd been looking forward to really good French food newsreel cameras were present to cover the official opening of the peace conference on the 18th of January in 1919 it took place in the Salle de los lodge at the French foreign ministry at the kid off see 32 countries sent delegates to Paris and following the official delegations were all those who look to the peacemakers to change the world for them as well six months it was the closest we have ever had to a world government and I don't suspect we'll ever have anything like it again you can imagine all those powerful people in the world here prime ministers came presidents foreign secretaries plus all the people who came because they were here you have suffragettes coming you had African Americans you had black Africans you had the Koreans who came from Siberia unfortunately they got that too late so they started out by dogsled and it was too slow but everybody came here and so for six months this was the world government Woodrow Wilson insisted that a League of Nations was the first item on the conference agenda this would be a permanent international organization to put into practice the ideals the president had advocated during the war the League of Nations to him was the most important thing the thing that above all he wanted to get out of the negotiations and the peace treaty it would be the thing which above all would justify his decision and bringing American to the war the deaths of 10 million men had created a determination to break with the past Harold Nicolson part of the British delegation reflected a passionate desire for change we were journeying to Paris not merely to liquidate the war but to found a new order in Europe we were preparing not peace only but eternal peace there was about us the halo of some divine mission we must be alert Stern righteous and ascetic for we were bent on doing great permanent and noble things the League of Nations were so important to Wilson that he chaired the Commission deciding its structure meetings took place in room three five one at the Clio the suite of Colonel house the president's closest advisor what happened in this room was what people at the time thought was probably the single greatest achievement at the Paris Peace Conference the League of Nations was basically made in this room in houses rooms the Commission for the League of Nations started meeting on February the 3rd they sat around a big table in this room covered with a great big red cloth about 19 members in that Commission and they hammered out what was called the Covenant of the League of Nations it had almost a religious connotation because for Woodrow Wilson this was the great gift that he was bringing to the world but Clemenceau scoffed at Wilson's idealism the president's ambitions seemed far too messianic for his liking God himself was content with 10 commandments we so modestly inflicted 14 points on us the 14 commandments of the most empty stairway Clemenceau wanted a little more rail politique the iron fist in the velvet glove she was all for a new international system because he was the Libyan he believed in wishes ideas to that extent and at the same time he deeply resented the fact that Wilson was but not pragmatic enough Clemenceau was in favor of the League of Nations but he would have wanted a League of Nations with a very strong May Day establishment League of nation with teef and we found the gems that's why it was the chemos position the search for a new world order had quickly been complicated by conflicting opinion amongst the Allies about the use of their power competing national agendas would divide the peacemakers for the duration of the conference Willson proved to be an effective chairman of the leaks commission despite disagreements a draft covenant had been agreed by the 13th of February so the president decided on a short visit home to begin the hard sell of the league to a skeptical Congress by the time of this midwinter break delegates had discovered the many delights of Paris by day's skating in the water bologna by night tasting the capital's more racier pleasures at the Hotel Majestic entertainment was peculiarly British well it was very British and a lot of the foreigners found it really rather extraordinary amateur theatricals poetry readings people had written their own poetry I'm charades dancing they had tea dances every Saturday which became so rowdy in fact that the British authorities wondered does they better put a stop to them there's a wonderful story that Marshall Fache came to see the dancing one evening and these days of course they were doing things like the black bottom of the foxtrot and he's reported to have said why do the British have such sad faces and such jolly bottoms one British representative from the centre of Europe who came hotfoot to Paris to try and warn people about things that were collapsing there said that when he got here he couldn't get anyone interested in the collapse of the austro-hungarian Empire because they're all too busy talking about the next amateur theatrical Harold Nicolson met Marcel Proust for dinner at the Ritz the novelist was fascinated by the peacemaking and demanded pristine detail about how exactly it worked tell me about the comedies you take a car from the delegation you get out at the quedagh say you climb the stairs you go into the room and then be specific in my friend to be specific and serving at the Ritz was a young kitchen assistant from Vietnam Ho Chi Minh the future revolutionary sent a petition to the Peace Conference requesting independence from France for his country he got no reply Canada's legal expert wrote to his wife about the culture to be had in Paris something earthy of the folly Bergere something a little more elevating at the Opera but wherever he went he was struck by the women of Paris he also described French women how elegant they were on the stage and off how sometimes they didn't wear very many clothes how attractive their ankles were at this point his wife wrote to him and said I'm coming over to join you he wrote then a very persuasive letter saying I would love you to come of course I adore you but I should point out that Paris is about to have a revolution you will not get enough to eat you probably won't have anywhere decent to stay in fact you may have to walk back to the Channel ports for safety wonderful letter and she didn't come but the lawman from Canada was right about a hungry continent seemingly on the brink of revolution beyond the salons and dining rooms of Paris Europe was mentally and physically exhausted communism was spreading from the east following the success of the Bolsheviks in Russia there had been insurrection in Germany a communist government would soon be established in Hungary the heart of the old Habsburg Empire they see Bolshevism shorthand for chaos for anarchy for famine for the lack of traditional authority and given that much of Eastern and Central Europe was now without a recognized government the fear was that if you did not make a settlement quickly then the plague the bacillus the germ of Russian communism would spread into eastern and central Europe among defeated people among disillusioned people and this was a really serious threat to the whole to the whole conference and on the 19th of February there was a reminder of this unstable world as claim also was leaving his flat on the Rue Franklin he was shot by an anarchist Amelia cordon he survived to complain about his would-be assassins marksmanship a Frenchman who misses his target six times out of seven at point-blank range both when Woodrow Wilson returned on the 14th of March to Paris it was obvious that his honeymoon with the French was over when we also came back the atmosphere was markedly different I mean it was decidedly cool when you think of the wildly enthusiastic crowds who greeted him in December 1918 there was almost none of that in the middle of March 1919 the French press were very hostile and they made jokes about mrs. Wilson they said her skirts were too short and she didn't know how to dress properly which in Paris was a pretty mean thing to say as the three leaders met again at the Hotel de Clio there was a renewed urgency to their deliberations now the central preoccupation of the peace conference was the final settlement with Germany the Treaty of Versailles it was agreed that Germany should be punished for the recent catastrophe the Allies believe that Germany had started the war and should pay for its aggression and the leaders had promised their electorates that Germany would pay Lloyd Georgia and clumb also had public opinion at home which is expecting Britain and France to seek the full costs of the war from Germany Britain's just had a general election in that general election one government Minister has said that I am for squeezing Germany until the pipsqueak a reparations committee met in the splendour of the Ministry of Finance on the Rue de Rivoli delegates briefed by the leaders tried to decide what Germany could or should pay and who might get these reparations arguments continued night and day Oh times it got really heated because they were squabbling over figures and they were squabbling over the share of the pie the two countries that got particularly heated with the British and the French the British because they felt the French were grabbing too much the French because they felt the British weren't giving them their just desserts the French and the Americans funnily enough actually worked out of the modus vivendi and and and really came together on a figure and it was the British who held out with a very high figure and so yes you had real arguments over it there was also disagreement about how the borders of Germany should be changed to try and prevent another war it was agreed that the provinces of Alsace Lorraine taken during the 1870s franco-prussian war should go back to France but after 1914 the French wanted more to guarantee security and prosperity a zone of security on the river rhine and control of the Saar coal fields what France is trying to look for is a secure boundary against Germany something which would never be quite as secure the channel and certainly not as securely landing both Lloyd George and Wilson already had security when they came to Paris in nineteen 19 the German fleet had gone there was no threat to either of them directly but clam also would have liked to have seen some form of physical barrier between himself and Germany Wilson objected that this went against the principle of national self-determination people in the Rhineland were German he argued they should be able to choose the country they lived in lloyd-george saw the potential for future conflicts as lloyd-george puts it the key concern this time is not to create hell says Lorenz in Reverse and have a situation where territories that are inhabited by Germans and want to be part of Germany are under French or Polish occupation and rule is that he thinks will create an unstable settlement in the future the Germans will not accept it and you'll have continuing tension and probably eventually another war in a few years time this fundamental tension between borders and self-determination highlighted by the Rhineland was being duplicated all over Europe by the time the conference opened states were already emerging from the wreckage of empire all the peacemakers could do was try and fix the borders of these new additions to the map in accordance with their liberal ideals the problem about solving the collapse of the empires in eastern and central Europe which was compound comparative caused by the fact that one principle should left at the end of the war was Wilson's idea of self-determination the idea that people should be allowed to choose what state they belong to and that was going to be very very difficult to apply in eastern and central Europe which had seen invasions migrations people coming and going some people staying some people going on little pools of people left all across the seashore of Eastern Central Europe experts who met at the quedagh Sea struggled long and hard to find solutions here in the grand banquet nichole many of the territorial Commission's met and so they read the submissions interviewed the witnesses they poured over the maps they argued among themselves as they tried to draw fair and rational boundaries what they were trying to do was impose order on a world 19:19 that was irrational and disorderly for Harold Nicolson it was agonizing work how able one feels here a map a pencil tracing paper yet my courage fails at the thought of the people whom our errant lines and clothes are exclude the happiness of several thousand people and this work was made even more difficult by the demands of the emerging nations at the hotel Chancellor's a state a delegation from Poland a nation which had disappeared at the end of the 18th century but had come back to life almost by historical accident during the First World War the Polish delegation came to the quedagh say to argue their case they wanted the great Poland of the past stretching from the Baltic to the Black Sea but this would include Germans Ukrainians Lithuanians and Russians the country would also include significant communities of Jews with pogroms in recent memory there was deep concern about the anti-semitism that came with Polish nationalism the problem of minorities in Poland was evident elsewhere The Statesman in Paris became aware as they tried to draw up the frontiers that they simply weren't going to produce frontiers on which everybody was coming on the right side at the end of them they were bound with people who can be left in a country they didn't want to be part of who would themselves be almost the living personification of the fact that national self-determination didn't work so the peacemakers found a solution which tried to protect the rights of these national minorities separate agreements were drawn up which with safeguard religious protection language rights and schooling and offer plebiscites or referendums in disputed areas but could liberal solutions be found for settlements outside Europe if Paris was to be the start of a brave new world then what should be done about the old traditions of dividing up the spoils of war in 1919 there were some very tempting prizes the colonies of Imperial Germany in Africa and the Pacific and the riches of the collapsed Ottoman Empire in the Middle East something like a million square miles of territory 14 million people scattered across the world are if you like up for grabs but the Paris Peace Conference once again sets itself higher ideals than previous settlements would have done to Wilson there should be no land grabs or annexations by the victors another solution must be found involving the League of Nations the answer found in Paris was mandates a civilized country say Britain would be given the opportunity to look after a less civilized part of the world until that country matured into nationhood oh I think mandates had a very paternalistic attitude behind them that these peoples in the Middle East these peoples in Africa these peoples in age of these peoples in the South Pacific went in anyway ready to rule themselves it's really interesting actually someone asked Woodrow Wilson if he'd like to do mandates in the center of Europe in the old collapsed austro-hungarian Empire and he looked totally stunned and said no no we don't need mandates for Europeans and so yes there was a paternalistic and indeed perhaps even a racist attitude here another group who came to the quedagh see petitioning for independence was an arab delegation led by prince faisal advised by TE Lawrence one of the most dramatic appearances at the Supreme Council was that of Prince Faisal the Arab leader he was dressed in flowing robes he had a gold scimitar at his side and he spoke passionately in Arabic apparently outlining the Arab case his interpreter was Lawrence of Arabia and it has been suggested by some that Faisal was simply reciting the Quran while Lawrence who of course knew the Arab case well presented it Faisal wanted the old Ottoman provinces of misil Baghdad and Basra Mesopotamia but this future state of Iraq was also coveted by the British who'd taken the area from the Turks during the war at his flat on the Rue Neto an advisor overheard lloyd-george thinking out loud about the Middle East Mesopotamia yes oil irrigation we must have Mesopotamia Palestine yes the Holy Land Zionism we must have Palestine Syria hmm what is there in Syria let the French have that the British had strong interests in the Middle East which were always going to conflict with the idea of Arab independence the British were very keen to maintain the security of the Suez Canal to couldn't maintain the security of the Persian Gulf and clearly the new strategic element of oil for this reason Britain began to press vigorously for a mandate in what would become Iraq it gave little real self-determination to the Arabs and when the British Mandate was finally ratified by the League of Nations there was no attempt to include Faisal in the decision a separate deal between Britain and France confirmed British control of muscle in northern Iraq but agreed French access to its oil fields resentment about the settlement led to immediate revolt and a bitterness which would endure during the April of 1919 the weather was grim in Paris and the volume of business was mounting up a German treaty to include the Covenant for a League of Nations still hadn't been agreed and they were now other obstacles to the success of the Peace Conference the Allied leaders were meeting daily at Wilson's new residents on the plus it as unique opposite lloyd George's flat since January the Italian Prime Minister Vittorio Orlando had been present at these meetings up until now this fourth ally had registered little interest in the proceedings Easter Sunday and Francis Stevenson was standing by the window looking out across to President Wilson's house just across the road here Francis Stevenson was lloyd George's secretary but she was also his mistress so they had a very close relationship and he had promised to take her out for a picnic and she was looking across to see if the meeting of the big four had just ended and as she looked across she saw standing at the window President Wilson's study Orlando the Prime Minister of Italy and he was weeping copiously and so she stood there horror wondering what had happened and what George's valet who was standing beside her said what on earth have they done to the poor old gentlemen what they had done was to refuse Italian demands in the Adriatic these Wilson angrily opposed provoking the Italians tears this clash between the two leaders was serious enough to provoke a walkout by the Italian delegation and there was now trouble from a fifth wartime ally Japan the Japanese though staying in some style on the plus one dome always felt ill at ease in Paris Clemenceau for one was openly rude to them they were treated with a certain amount of condescension to Japanese representatives in Paris were called the two Mikado's and Clement so for example used to make loud asides he said you know it's a beautiful day outside there's so many beautiful women in the world and here we are shut up with those ugly Japanese and rather loud voice – I bet they heard him you know there was an attitude that the Japanese were there really as a courtesy the Japanese delegation represented a nation which had had an astonishing rise to power by 1919 they had taken Korea and Manchuria in China so the Japanese came to Paris looking for respect and this was expressed in their demand for a racial equality clause in the league's covenant the Japanese wanted to have racial equality clause inserted into the Covenant of the League of Nations mainly because they were very concerned about the prestige and security as the only non-white great part to be invited to the Pais peace conference and then there was also the question of immigration or more precisely anti Japanese immigration in in in the United States and also in Australia in particular and they wanted to resolve this problem because of this fear of Japanese immigration racial equality was furiously opposed by the Australian Prime Minister Billy Hughes Hughes and allies in the Empire delegation feared for their whites-only immigration policies Wilson realizing he now had a problem of a racial equality used a meeting of the league Commission of the CLIA to veto the Japanese amendment well I think it shows again his pragmatism I think I mean actually I don't think he himself was a great believer in racial equality he himself had been brought up in the south and although his attitude towards blacks were as it was sympathetic rather than antagonistic they were premise on the kind of paternalist assumption of superiority which he certainly had the Japanese now demanded a quid pro quo Japan had taken possessions in the shantung Peninsula in China from the Germans during the war they now wanted their claims recognized if not the Japanese delegation made it clear they would walk out of the conference – but in Paris there was a Chinese delegation its leader Wellington Koo dramatically called the Japanese claim a dagger pointed at the heart of China who argued that shantung under the principle of self-determination was clearly Chinese but again to stop the conference falling apart Wilson decided to horse-trade agreeing to the Japanese claim the Chinese reaction to the Shandong settlement was an incredible disappointment as well as the sense of betrayal both by Wilson himself who was personally seen as the embodiment of the Estonian idealism but also more broadly speaking these principles of new diplomacy that Wilson was advocating at Paris the decisions made in Paris would have long-term consequences in the Far East disillusion in China would lead to the replacement of those like ku who believed political solutions lay in Western liberal democracy with those who saw the future in a Chinese form of communism a similar totalitarian fate awaited Japanese liberals Japan felt deeply betrayed by the anglo-saxon West particularly the United States and Britain and this meant of course that it led to the rise of more nationalistic streak of thought in Japan by the beginning of May the weather had improved and the countdown to the signing of the Treaty of Versailles with the Germans had begun invitations had now gone to Berlin requesting that a delegation travel to Paris to receive the Allied Terms after long hours of haggling in conference rooms deals had been struck Lloyd George and Wilson kick-started the process by offering Clemenceau guarantees of military support if France was attacked by Germany again Lloyd George made another offer well well George loved the dramatic gesture so what he said to the French is look even if the Germans attack a game which I doubt they will we are going to build a tunnel under the channel it's one of them Oh George is dreams and so if the Germans attack will simply pop through the tunnel up will be and we'll be there giving you aid the French understandably didn't really believe it the traditional view of the Versailles Treaty is that the peacemakers particularly the French were inflexible but in finding agreement on the final terms there had to be compromise on all sides Klim also softened the French position on the military occupation of the Rhine by agreeing that it should be demilitarized for 15 years thus our coal fields would be owned by France with sovereignty decided by a League of Nations plebiscite Tommaso knew perfectly well that the treaty was not perfect from the French point of view he could not have achieved military border on the Rhine permanent occupation of the Rhineland he knew that he understood that and there was a discussion force President of the Republic Waikele Todd came also you must not accept the treaty as it is but him also decided to accept the treaty treaty because he believed that the most important thing was to retain English English and American support historians now believe that the overall territorial settlement left Germany better off in 1919 than it had been before the war perhaps the peacemakers had been too lenient stirring up trouble for the future Germany as a political entity is left as it was before the war and in the sense that still there and that's very important Germany loses something like 13% of its pre-war territories something like 10% of its pre-war population in some sense is of course at the end of the First World War it's in a bad way it's been defeated it's it's not it's not in a good condition but if you look at the future Germany no longer has its borders policed on almost all sides by great powers at the Ministry of Finance the reparations Commission had also come to an agreement a split of the money 52 % France 28% Britain the rest to the other allies with a final figure to be agreed after the conference the great liberal economist John Maynard Keynes working with the Treasury team in Paris was furious with this deal Germany he believed could never afford the kind of figures suggested by the Allies its economy would be crippled with this deal the Allies were completing the destruction of Europe for Keynes Wilson was the hapless villain of the piece this blind and deaf Don Quixote was entering a cavern where the Swift and glittering blade was in the hands of the adversary Keynes accused Wilson of doing nothing to challenge the other allies when his own experts had been critical of their demands he thought the President had been conned he allowed himself to be drugged by their atmosphere to discuss on the basis of their plans and a ver data and to be led along their paths but Wilson was a politician not an economist he knew he had to give something back to the French and British in return for getting his own way with the League of Nations and an aide was telling him that liberal guilt over reparations was simply not an issue in America tamati and Washington wrote in to say remember that reparations is primarily of interest to the Europeans it's not a central issue with Americans and it's not worth wrecking the conference about from our point of view what matters to us is the league and I think again the sense of American domestic opinion and its priorities affected Wilson's own attitude so though he made this case he eventually acceded in its essence to the Allied point of view most historians now argue that reparations were never the burden that critics like Keynes made out out of an agreed figure of 6 billion pounds only a billion had been paid by the Germans when payments were suspended in 1932 and they conclude this revisionist analysis by challenging the view that decisions made in Paris led to the outbreak of the Second World War there was simply too much history in between the peace settlement in in Paris was not ideal but it wasn't of itself sufficient to cause another major war that was going to take a series of happenstance is the problem of the Great Depression the problem of the great slump in in in America 1929 and all that and the consequences that would have for Europe and perhaps most importantly of all they arrived on the scene of the National Socialists in Germany the whole series of events in the 1930s changed the European system and prepared the way for the outbreak of the Second World War that is a mistake to jump from 1919 to 1939 by the first week of May 1919 a German delegation had checked into the hotel de reservoir and Versailles the special trains taking them through northern France had been deliberately slowed down by the French to allow the enemy to ponder on the devastation it had caused you all big three with a Clemenceau Lloyd George Wilson their foreign ministers the representatives all the other powers that would journalists or Admirals that were generals and what they were seeing for the first time most of them was a German these were the people they defeated they haven't seen Germans since 1914 except on the other side of the Western Front and now they were going to see them face to face the head of the German delegation foreign minister Brock Doran sow took two speeches with him to the Triana one short and non-committal the other long and defiant the German Foreign Minister decided to use the hardline speech he was very nervous people who were close to him could see beads of sweat on his forehead he was probably shaking because of that he decided to sit down his legs were probably would probably have given away underneath him he sat at the table in the middle of this room packed with the Allies and read out this hardline speech he read it in a very harsh and rasping voice and of course he looked the picture of a German aristocrat the sort of person who had helped lead Germany into the First World War if he had wanted to do something it would hurt an Allied opinion even more he couldn't have chosen a better way to do it Woodrow Wilson came away and said I have never seen a worse speech and Boy George said now I understand why people hate the Germans so much as he left the hotel brach door console paused for a cigarette you whilst the Germans were given a deadline to respond to the treaty general Fache commander-in-chief of Allied forces was told to prepare 42 divisions to invade Germany if its leaders refused to sign the publication of the Treaty deepened liberal dissolution with the peace conference in January Paris had been a symbol of hope for Harold Nicolson now there was bitterness we came to Paris confident that the new order was about to be established we left it convinced that the new order had merely fouled the old we arrived as fervent apprentices in the school of President Wilson we left as renegades and doubts had spread to leading members of the British delegation lloyd-george went back to clemenceau and Wilson to suggest revisions they refused on matters of substance to budge Wilson was keen on being seen as tough towards the Germans he was told my Tamil tea his political secretary in Washington who read the American press and kept his ear very close to the ground that the German draft treaty which was produced on in early May and which liberals were so horrified by which people like canes and bullets and the others were so shocked by had actually been well-received in America the sort of quite belligerent sentiment of the previous autumn meant that Americans generally were in favor for tough peace on the 16th of June a final ultimatum was sent to Berlin the German government represented by Brock door France au in Paris resigned on the 23rd of June at 4:30 in the afternoon a telegram arrived at the K door C with the news that members of a new German government would sign as soon as this was replied to guns went off all over Paris you the signing ceremony took place on the 28th of June in the Hall of Mirrors at the Palace of Versailles the Italians had been persuaded to come back and sign the Chinese however stayed away their hotels surrounded by protesting students the signing was a deliberate piece of political theater by Georges Clemenceau he never forgot that the Hall of Mirrors was where the new German Empire had been proclaimed in 1871 after Prussia had defeated then occupied France the whole signing of the Treaty of Versailles at Versailles in the Hall of Mirrors was enormous ly important for the French the Hall of Mirrors had been louis xiv great hall in his great palace when France under louis xiv had dominated Europe it was in the Hall of Mirrors in 1871 that the new German Empire had been proclaimed and so it was going to be now in the Hall of Mirrors that Germany signed the treaty which marked its defeat and so clemenceau planned it very thoroughly he made sure that there was a special writing desk which had belonged to louis xiv there he made sure that there was a special ink stand that was there he made sure that sitting in the front row in the Hall of Mirrors when the Germans came in were badly grievously horribly mutilated French War veterans at 3:00 in the afternoon the Germans were shown in the Hall of Mirrors was crammed I mean there's this huge audience there the cameras the film cameras they're journalists the crowd looking through the windows trying to see what's going on and the Germans are shown in these two men in black suits who have finally agreed to represent the German government signed the treaty and there's a hush in the hole and they're shown in and that dead white and trembling and they come in and they sign the treaty and this is a terrible hush and and people almost feel sympathetic for them because they look so ill with the emotion of the moment and then all the other nations have to come and sign the treaty as well and then the dignity begins to break down a bit the first autograph seekers begin to get off I'm ashamed to say one of them was a Canadian you in Paris the celebrations began the next morning lloyd-george left his Paris flat for the last time he would stay in power until October 1922 when his coalition government fell and he was forced to resign as Prime Minister he remained a backbench MP until just before his death in 1945 at the end of 1919 Clem also stepped down as Prime Minister to try and become president of France but he had too many enemies in French politics so the tiger left Paris to travel the world and to enjoy the role of heroic elder statesmen he died in 1929 Wilson was pragmatic about the Peace Conference as he left France the president confided to his wife well little girl it is finished and as no one is satisfied it makes me hope we have made a just peace but it is all in the lap of the gods Wilson the Democrat went on an exhausting US tour to sell the Paris settlement to the American people on his return to Washington in October 1919 he had a massive stroke the republican-controlled Senate then refused to ratify the Versailles Treaty rejecting u.s. membership of the League of Nations Wilson's term as president would end in March 1921 his dreams seemingly unfulfilled his career ending in political failure he died in February in 1924 as an invalid in the White House Wilson requested a viewing of a film which had been made about his trip to Europe it was a reminder of his glory days but watching these images of Paris also reminds us of Wilson's vision his attempt to actively involve America in the world his belief that an international body could be a force for good and they remind us too of the peacemakers determination in Paris to resolve war by compromise and conciliation to prevent war by States working together to preserve the peace to neutralize the power and violence of nationalism struggling in 1919 with the very same problems we still can't resolve today stay with us tonight as superstar Russian soprano Anna Netrebko sings popular areas by Puccini Bellini and logic with the BBC Philharmonic the last night of the BBC for proms next it farms flooded mines unlooted factories Germany of course had also suffered by the end of the war 1.8 million Germans were dead but in November 1918 unlike at the end of the Second World War in 1945 there was no Allied invasion of Germany the line drawn on the day of the Armistice lay through Belgium and along Germany's western borders Germany never saw Allied troops on German soil the Germans themselves never saw allied troops and occupation the German army itself marched back from the frontiers in good order and was greeted by the new president of the Republic who said we welcome you hadn't been defeated so there was a feeling that victory was incomplete the Peace Conference would have to resolve this inconclusive end to the fighting and punished Germany but the wider world the peacemakers also hope to shape in Paris was in chaos not only the German Empire of the Kaiser but Franz Josef's austria-hungary the Ottoman Empire and the Russia of the czars all these power blocks had vanished by January 1919 the simultaneous collapse of four powers is unprecedented it meant that the map of Europe would not look the same in 1919 whatever the peacemakers did that this was a map which would have to be redrawn because the very blocks which had constituted Europe earlier no longer existed throughout the peace conference there was quiet on the western front but fighting tindora let alone seen troops cavalry and infantry' lined the entire route and tens of thousands of persons fought for a glimpse the streets were decorated with flags and banners Wilson's name was everywhere stretched across the streets from house to house he seemed to embody America and that's I think a very important factor America had entered world politics at this point and many Europeans look to it for salvation really from the ills of the old world which was very much of course the American view themselves that they were bringing peace and 'introduction in a way to the old world the American delegation made its headquarters at the luxurious hotel de Clio on the plaza la Concorde life at the Clio contrasted sharply with a simple lifestyle of the Prime Minister of France Georges Clemenceau living alone in a flat across the river in the sixteenth R&D small he was a very cultured man he wrote books himself he was a thinker actually he got even philosophical books you know not only memoirs and such political books he had also a big career behind him as journalist very good one he had a huge political experience and he was certainly a very witty many as Prime Minister Clemenceau had a polished contempt for the president of France rimmel frankly there are only two perfectly useless things in the world one is the first world war had left 10 million dead and twice that number seriously wounded and maimed for life if you think of September the 11th but then you think of September the 11th star casualties every day for four years then you begin to get some kind of feeling of what the sort of trauma was that existed in the Western countries in the Allied countries at the time particularly in Britain and in France which had never known levels of casualties of the kind that they'd experienced between 1914 and 1918 remember these were casualties suffered by civilian armies not just by regular soldiers so every family in Britain and France would be likely to have had some experience or someone close to them have been killed or maimed the British hadn't fought a war in Europe for a hundred years they had never anticipated that so many troops would fight for so long nearly a million soldiers from Britain and its empire were killed these losses were in numbers which had never been anticipated and the sense of outrage and the sense that this was a tragedy of the deepest order grew from 1914 to 1918 25% of france's male population between 18 and 30 was either dead or wounded the fighting had devastated whole areas of northern France the retreating Germans destroyed he nude in the east poles against Russians Romanians against Hungarians but how to deal with this Allied troops were being quickly demobilized and those who waited to go home were impatient even mutinous so during these months in Paris they were always going to be severe limits to the power of the Allied leaders three weeks after the Armistice Woodrow Wilson the American president set sail for Europe Wilson had had a meteoric rise in American politics in 1910 he was a college president yet within only three years leading the Democrats Wilson entered the White House after a period of neutrality he led America to war in April 1917 Wilson had a Presbyterian belief in punishment for Germany but he also believed in Redemption his 14 points addressed to Congress in January 1918 promised a new more open diplomacy a belief in national self-determination and the moral supremacy of democracy the speech made Wilson a symbol of hope for the future the president's arrival in December 1918 a superstar was an extraordinary event one young American on the president's staff described Wilson's reception in Paris the parade from the station to the Mira house in Rio de marzo which is to be his official residence was accompanied by the most remarkable demonstration of enthusiasm and affection on the part of Parisians that I've ever on the 11th of November 1918 the guns fell silent the killing of the First World War stopped as an armistice with Germany was signed two months later in January 1919 delegates from all over the world came to Paris to conclude the peace settlements that would end the war six months of haggling in conference rooms climaxed with the signing of a treaty with Germany in the Hall of Mirrors at Versailles three men dominated the peace making the American President Woodrow Wilson and the French and British Prime Minister's Georges Clemenceau and David Lloyd George these peacemakers have often been seen as short-sighted and vindictive whose bungling led to a chain of events which ended with Hitler and a second world war but a generation of historians like Margaret Macmillan revisiting events in Paris are challenging this view of a failed peace with Germany the trouble with hindsight as you know how the story ends and so you look back for things that tell you that the story was bound to end this way and that's not really how events unfold these historians argue that the peace conference was a realistic attempt to shape the map of Europe in many cases they were dealing with factors way outside their control or anyone else's control outside anyone's ability to control how do you control ethnic nationalism we haven't made such a great job of it today they see Paris as a global summit with a liberal progressive agenda for the world and urge greater understanding for the peacemakers of 1919 as they face dilemmas which remain grimly familiar to us today this is their story

3 thoughts on “The Treaty of Versailles – The Best Documentary Ever”

  1. I need to know the point of uploading a documentary that has already been uploaded. This video is a direct copy of the previously uploaded doc with the same audio dropout at the 48:00 minute mark. "best doc ever"? This is stupid.

  2. Britain wanted colonies for Belgium in Africa. This is the reason why Britain had started the world one to protect Belgium. I only remember that Belgium at that time was like Nazi Germany 30 years later because of the Belg colonies in Africa. So I ask why did so many Brits die for? But did Britain win this war really if they only wanted colonies for Belgium?

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