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tv   1919 Paris Peace Conference  CSPAN  August 26, 2020 11:06pm-12:33am EDT

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eastern. lectures in history is also invaluable as a podcast, find it where you listen to protest. historian mark mullen is the offer of 1996 months to change the world paris peace conference which got the hammer out of peace treaty for over one reaching an agreement that satisfied all nations territorial claims and adequately punish germany for his wartime actions the national world war one museum and memorial in kansas city hosted the top in front of their annual symposium last november. >> good evening, ladies and gentlemen. what a day. really terrific event that we've had so far and thank you for being with us. i know that there is a lot of excitement as there ought to be about this evening's conversation so thank you for
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taking time to be here we are so delighted to have professor margaret mcmillon with us today. it really is a delight. thank you so much for traveling to be with us on this important conversation and who will help us with that is better equipped than margaret mcmillon, americas professor international history at oxford, professor of history at the university of toronto, she serves in a many and varied roles. trustee of the central european university and more recently, at the imperial war museum. we are second only here at the national world war one museum and memorial to the imperial war museum in terms of history. they began collecting a 1917 and we began collecting in 1920. we are further delighted that they are having their world war ii gatherings re-installed by
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the gallery designs over the world war one museum so they are very wise, i might say. margaret's research specializes in british imperial history and the international history of the 19th and 20th centuries and she is written many publications and books. i don't want to list those but one of which is particularly pertinent to the conversation tonight, paris, 1919, six months to change the world. which really puts her in a position of authority to have the conversation with us this evening. she is of course been awarded with many distinguished prizes and awards, gave the bbc's 2018 brief lectures on war and humanity which explored the tangled history of war and society a complicated feelings toward it and those who fight.
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which is short to say of course that ladies and gentlemen we are in the presence of a historical rock star. tonight. from 75 to 2002, dr. mcmillon was the member of the history department at robertson university in toronto, where she also served as chair. she is a fellow of the royal society of literature, serves on various boards an editorial groups that focus on history and world war i studies, honourary fellows and college at oxford, she has received recognition from a number of academic institutions by being awarded honourary doctorates. in 2006, professor mcmillon was invested as an officer in the order of canada. which is four americans, that sort of the very distinguished award. and in 2016, she was appointed as companion of the order of
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canada. the 2008, the queen's new years honors list was appointed her the companion of honors for service to higher education history and international affairs, which in countries are sort of a big deal. after professor mcmillon has given her lecture, there will be an opportunity for questions and answers and laurel facilitate that. we have some microphones and we would invite you as you have another sessions to move to those and bring your questions. or if you would prefer to ask from where you are, just indicate and laura will help facilitate that. we it was almost five years ago that we had the honor of welcoming dr. mcmillon to our auditorium stage. once again, we have the opportunity to do so and as i say, we couldn't be more pleased. the excitement surrounding her keynote is evident, when you started to gather here and it's
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really palpable. if you haven't read paris 1919, six months to change the world, we'd really encourage you to do so and move it to the top of your queue. in fact, the books till tomorrow will be open you might want to take a coffee with you. tonight, she'll expand on that topic and the research that she has undertaken and present a thesis of her arguments. ladies and gentlemen, please join with me in welcoming our esteemed keynote speaker, dr. margaret's mcmillon. (applause) >> that was extremely kind. thank you. thank you very much i think that is the example of the commonwealth sticking together. it was much to kind, thank you very much for that introduction. many thanks to the war museum for inviting me back. i've enjoyed everyone and i tell everyone that they must
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come to kansas city and senior museum and also see your beautiful city. it's almost becoming a family thing, i gather my deputy dense snow was here last fall. talking, be careful, the rest of the family might be following along. we have both been so enthusiastic. this is a good time, 100 years later. anniversaries can be useful for taking stock and looking back. and what happened at the end of the first world war as the whole of the first world war is something that is shaped the history of this 20th century and also shape the world in which we live. and so i think it's quite useful to use anniversaries to think about what that means, with those great events of the past meant and what they might mean for us today. i think it is quite right that in your title, you put 1919, peace, question mark. because there is a view widely shared that what happened in paris in 1919, this is the great peace conference that was
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summoned to wind up in the first world war and try and set a structure for a lasting peace. and the world after 1919. what happened in paris in 1919 has been blamed for the outbreak of the second world war. there is a very simple version of history, which is that the statesman and there were all pretty much met in those days, the statesman met in paris in 1919. they made such a mess of things that europe simply moved down a tram way with no escape to 1939. i myself find that much to simple. my short answer to people who say doesn't 1919 leads directly to 1939? is what was everyone doing at those 20 years? an awful lot can happen in 20 years. i think europe and the world faced many choices in that period. perhaps the most single influential book in creating that view of 1919 as the doomed
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piece attempt that set in motion the events that led to 1939 is the book by john maynard keynes, the great economist. who in 1919 was not yet so well known. but he was very arrogant and very self confident young man. i should point out he went to cambridge university. well so we are not surprised by that. . he was in paris as an economic adviser to the british delegation and he got fed up with what he felt were the mistakes they were making. he was also, i think, going through something of a personal crisis in his life. at any rate, he threw out the job in paris, went back to england in the summer of 1919 and wrote a book, which took him six weeks. it is a polemic. it is a very successful polemic and it is been imprints ever since and translated into many languages. for such an exciting little book, it has a rather dull title, it's called the economic consequences of the peace.
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but if you read the book, and i'm sure some of you have, it is condemning everything that was going on in paris. let me just read you a little bit of it to give you the flavor. paris was a nightmare and everyone there was morbid. a sense of impending catastrophe overhung the frivolous scene. the futility and small-ness of man for the great event confronting him. the mingled significance and on reality of the decisions. levity, blindness, insolence, confused cries from without. all the elements of ancient tragedy where there. the statesman, he claimed in this book, were hypocritical or subtle and dangerous spell binders, engaged in empty and arit intrigue. the treaty oversight, the treaty with germany which was probably the most difficult one of all to go sheet and which helps to set the template for the other treaties, the treaty of versailles it was imbecile
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greed, oppression, dishonourable, ridiculous and injurious. he wrote devastating portraits of the three key states men who were at the center of the decisions that they made in paris. clemenceau, the french foreign minister, he portrayed as an ancient ape fasten to his chair thinking only of revenge on germany. wilson, the american president, he portrayed as a booby. . like in one of those games were children play were in england they call it blends bluff. where you put a scarf around someone's eyes and pin them around and then they don't know which direction they're going in. and this is how he described wilson, being spun around, naive and foolish, being spun around by the devious europeans. and david loyd george, the british prime minister, he portrayed as half man and half g.o.a.t..
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who came out of the welsh myth with no moral sense whatsoever and his mother actually made him take some of the router passages out. but this was a very powerful piece of work. it helps to set a picture ever since, of what happened in paris is being futile and worse than futile, dangerous, condemning europe in the world to a second world war. i will not deny that not all the decisions in paris were good. they did make mistakes i think, in their division of the arab territories of the middle east and their treatment of the ottoman empire for example. the powers showed carelessness in the shortsightedness for much of the 20th century so not only did and i want to defend everything that happened there, but i want to say that what we need to do is try to understand what it was they were dealing with i think what we must do is
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ask ourselves what would we do if we were in that position? what would we be facing it's all good to look back in the past and say they should've done this, or that, they should have known that there was a young german corporal called adolf hitler coming along who was going to seize on the treaty of versailles and use that to help him in his nazi party get into power. of course they didn't know that, but we always have to remember when you rewrite history when is what people actually had to work on at the time. what concerns did they have? what obstacles they face? what is it that they were actually dealing with? . i think we need to look at the paris peace conference and the conference which came at the end of a great catastrophe and try to understand just with the circumstances of that conference were. what i would like to do is make a few general points about wars because ending wars is never easy. especially if those wars have been great and the level of destruction of been very high. apart from anything else, the
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greater the war, the rate of the expectation, and the greater the desire that someone or something should pay for what happened. and this was certainly the case at the end of the first world war. the war had shocked europe and indeed it shocked most of the world. partly because the 19th century had been such a very good century for europe. europe had known terrible war's, its history. most centuries have been marked by dreadful wars and europe in the 19th century was actually one of the most peaceful and prosperous and progressive centuries in european history. perhaps the most peaceful prosperous and progressive that europe had ever known. there had been a number of very short wars in the 19th century after the napoleon nick wars and it in 1815, but those wars were short, they were usually fought between two countries like for example, the frank oppression war the war between pressure and austria. and they usually resulted in a clear result and in peace was reestablished. and so europeans had come to
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think, by the beginning of the 20th century, that they had somehow changed and that there will to change, and that they were going to go on living in a peaceful world and, they were going to go on building peaceful and progressive and prosperous societies. that this peace and prosperity and progress was going to spread around the world. we look back and say how foolish that was, but this is something that many people were thinking in europe before 1914, which made the shock of the first world war all the greater. europeans had four years of war, a war which they had hoped wrongly, would be short and decisive, after four years of a dreadful war, they look back and they look at the lies that gone. 9 million men, possibly more. we will never know. mostly it was men in the first world war. the loss of human potential, the loss of human talent, the money that had gone, the destruction that had gone, the empires that had gone. three great empires disappeared as a result of the first world
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war. force disappeared shortly afterwards. russia, which was an empire as well as the state fell to pieces in the course of the russian revolution. austria hungry, that huge multinational empire at the center of europe, which for better or worse, i created a sort of stability toward the centuries, felt pieces as the war was ending. in germany, which had been an empire including many polish lance also fell to pieces as an empire at the end of the first world war. and then in the months just after, the ottoman empire was going to fall to pieces and disappear as well. and so it was a very different political and social landscape that the europeans looked at in 1918, they had seen a 1914. and they had done something more to themselves, they had also shaken their position in the world. before 1914, europe had been the most powerful part of the world. directly or indirectly, european countries had controls most of the surface of the world. european finance was what you needed if you wanted to build
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anything, if you want technology came to europe, if you wanted money if you wanted education you came to europe. if you wanted fashion, if you wanted ideas you came to europe. and by 1918 the europeans also had that sent. their civilization was in some way superior. the war in addition to all the other things that had done, had shaken european confidence in themselves tremendously. paula valerie, the great french writer said something is broken and we will never be quite the same again. it will be like those other empires the disappeared, names now that mean nothing to us like babylon, we now know what it's going to be like to go into the abyss of history. when that were ended then, there is a sense of doom since of apprehension and also worry that the war has ended but fighting hadn't ended this afternoon much to get a least 1920s, there's also fear it
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take them with russia the european societies are simply going to be swept away and so that was part of the atmosphere in which the peace conference met. what also i think affected the decisions of those and that puts tremendous pressure on the peacemakers because they worried they sort of things out soon and things would get much worse. some of the pressing issues there would see resolution also i think, it was their own public. this was a conference that was mostly engaged in by powers and politicians what their publics wanted, with the public's demand it. and of course we're having to think about the next elections. at the congress just taken place, napoleon a course, that is not something that the peacemakers had to worry about,
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they have to answer to new people. they were going to what the publics wanted, the public with the public wants it was not always compatible. what they want to currently on the winning side someone to pay, someone to pay and some of the take responsibility for the war. the french, they felt very strongly about this, often, and the literature later, it's not how unreasonable the french were, but i think we need to remember that the french had been invaded twice by german forces in the lifetimes of many people including clinton so himself. in 1870 the german confederation had invaded france and very nasty battles had been fought on french soil and fence had been defeated and have had to pay very large fine indeed and suffer german occupation. germany had declared war on france and invaded france in 1914, the french didn't start the first world war with
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germany, the germans started it with french's. and most of the war on the western war was false unfriendly the belgian soil the damage that was done by that war and i'm sure many of you have been to the western front, you can see some of that damage, the damage had been done to belgium and to france, done to their economies, belgium was stripped bare of much of his agriculture much of its wealth belgian historians will tell you that belgium has never really recovered from the german occupation in the first world war. the war in france was fought in what had been the most industrialized parts of france. french factories were destroyed. something like 40% of french production capacity was destroyed in the fighting in the first world war. french mines, french railways, french bridges. you can understand why the french public looked over at germany, which was largely unscathed unoccupied, largely unscathed by the war, where the infrastructure had not suffered that sort of damage and said,
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they can pay. why should we pay, why should we paid to do the damage, to pay for the damage which germany has done to us? and the british public felt much the same and so to the american public. the american president woodrow wilson was worried about what he fell to be the anti german feeling that he was encountering among the american public. the pressure that he felt too and flicked we tributed piece on germany. and so the allied public wanted someone to pay and they look to germany and thought germany was the proper country to pay. austria hungry couldn't pay because it fall into pieces. it was no longer an empire, only a tiny little austria and a hungry that was in revolution and upper new countries which didn't really see themselves as being on the losing side. the ottoman empire clearly was unable to pay anything, bulgaria, which was another defeated nation was unable to pay. germany was. there was a desire on the part of the public, which put real pressure on the statesman in paris to get something out of
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germany. to make up for the damage of the war. but at the same time, you also had a willingness and a longing. among publics. it was not just the l.a. public 's, it was certainly on the defeated side. it was also in the wider world, it was in asia, it was in africa, it was in australia, it was in north america. a desire that out of this dreadful war, which had caused such damage and such suffering, whose consequences were clearly so momentous, that out of this war, something better should come. and so what i like publics and other publics wanted was a new world. a new world order, a new peaceful order. some thoughts of institutions or ways of doing things that would prevent the world from ever having a were like this again. this is not easy for the statesman to do. with they have been pushed in different directions and of course, they had to think of their own national interest. it's a common place but a very important one that at the end of a coalition wars where you have a number of countries fighting together, the coalitions tends to fall apart once peace is achieved.
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nations will come together in a great cause to save themselves from destruction or defeat an enemy or conquer other nations, once they have achieved those goals, they tend naturally to begin to think of their own interest. and the coalitions begin to fall to pieces. we saw the very clearly at the end of the first world war the end of the second world war. inevitably, the powers that made in paris began to think of their own interest. the french were thinking of recompense, they were thinking of their own security. if you are french, you knew that germany was still strong. it was just there on the other side of your borders. there were more germans being born every year than there were french being born, which meant there were more future german soldiers and what you wanted with security. you want to protection from germany as much as you want it germany to pay for the war damage. with the british wanted was and and to the german fleet, which would cost so much concern before the first world war. they had already got that by the time the peace conference met.
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because when the germans signed the armistice, which was really more surrender i think that an armistice, they had surrendered their high fleet and their submarine fleet and both were in british ports. the british or parts of the british empire had also want to german colonies and they had already got hold of those before the peace conference started. and so the british, unlike the french, could come to the peace conference not really asking for all that much for themselves and were able to portray themselves as being less selfish and less grasping than the french were. and then you have the united states. as president and american diplomat said very clearly, the united states does not come into this war to fight for itself. it very pointedly called itself an associate and not a not an ally to show that it was somehow different from the european powers. and what the united states wanted was a better world. having said that, i think the united states was also conscious of its newfound economic and financial and military power and wants it a greater say in world affairs.
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and so you get different national goals and difference national interests. i also think that what was putting pressure on the peacemakers was this since that time was not on their side. that if they weren't careful, time is going to run out. this very real sense which i mentioned, of revolution simply spreading through. they had what looked like really worrying evidence. hungary had hissed communist governments for six months in 1919. there were communist or left-wing insurrections, armed and violent instructions in italy, in the center of europe there is a strike in winnipeg, of all places. canadians tend not to get involved in revolutionary activity, but we had a general strike, which concerned lot of people because it had very radical rhetoric and clearly was inspired by what was happening in russia. and so there was a fear that the world was on the edge of
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revolution. but another pressure that the peacemakers faced was that the world was also on the edge of starvation or parts of it were. they found themselves having to act as a world government in ways they hadn't intended, because conditions in the center of europe were disastrous. when austria hungry and the other empires fell to pieces, economic units fell to pieces. and so just to give one example, vienna, which used to get its coal from the north, used to get wheat from the east, suddenly found there were barriers because there was now poland or czechoslovakia their. new borders were put up. and there was now a much larger romania and an independent hungary, which is where they had once got their wheat and suddenly became much more difficult to get to the sorts of things that the viennese economy needed, and the view needs themselves need to survive. and the red cross, which was doing relief as other organizations were in vienna, in the winter of 1918, said that people were starving. they were seeing illnesses among children which they never
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expected to see in their lifetime, illnesses caused by lack of food. things like rick it's, which the associated with much court for a country so there was a sense that they had to take on these responsibility and they had to move quickly. and what was also happening is that they were dealing with very powerful forces. the first world war did not end and did not suddenly results and it did not end quietly, it did not result in peace. in addition to the forces of revolutionary socialism, which were very strong, these are forces that people would go on into the streets for and fight and die for. very difficult to contain. the other force which they were dealing with is nationalism. and nationalism, ethnic nationalism in particular, in the center of europe, was beginning to spread further afield through the middle east, one of the emotions and feelings which people are prepared to die for and prepared to get out and fight for. and the fall of the empire meant that the different ethnic groups who had been pushing in
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some cases, like the checks, for greater autonomy within a bigger structure like austria hungry, suddenly saw as one of the put it, the prison doors had opened. they could actually established in countries. and i think what a lot of these different groups that, if we don't do it now, it was a bit like thing what happened after 1989, if we don't do it now, things won't get the chance to get our own country, you had ferocious ethnic nationalism kind of marking themselves out on the mark of europe and elsewhere, poland was reconstituting itself, people often talk as if the peace conference recreate in poland in may czechoslovakia and made yugoslavia. they were in fact making themselves on the ground. often through fighting. often through fighting with their neighbors because one of the difficulties of the ethnic nationalism which began appearing and began trying to crater concurrent countries, was that the claims overlapped. they base their claim so often on history. the ways that country's borders had come and gone in the past meant that you had a choice of
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what sort of borders you want. the probe trouble is you would often be choosing border that incorporated land that someone else wanted. in poland, there was a debate between those polls who said look we should settle for a reasonably size poland such as what we had at the end of the 18 century and there were those who said let's go back to the polish lithuanian commonwealth which was much bigger. this cause trouble. it was going to be the source of a number of the small wars that we're going to break out. you can imagine what a country such as greased. it greece and italy to went right back into the classical each. the greeks they said they once had empires the greeks looked at their maps from put the classical agent said we once controlled the coast of asia minor all those islands, istanbul, konstantin opal. we control the whole swath around the black sea. that is what was happening in 1918 1919, as people began to see the possibility of expanding their borders or reconstituting countries or
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creating new countries. and the final thing, and there were many other things, the final thing that we have to remember when you think of what those statements were trying to do with was that their own power was shrinking. these were representing very powerful countries. some of the most powerful countries in the world where they're in paris. some 30 nations there. japan was there, china was there, thailand was there, a number of latin american countries, other european countries where there. countries which are becoming independent within the british empire like my own country, canada where there. but the real power was with britain, france and the united states. italy in japan were seen as slightly junior partners. that represented a lot of power but it wasn't unlimited. there is always a danger that powerful nations have, but they look at their own shower and they think they can do what they want. they think they can reach out and adjust the pieces on the maps. and those pieces will stay were put. of course they don't. the powers of the allies actually had with shrinking.
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mas and massive navies and in the beginnings of air forces to fight the war. but once the war ended and as far as a light publics were concerned, it ended in november, 1918. once the war hadn't, it soldiers who had survived that war did not want to go on fighting. they did not want to be sent to places they had never heard of in the caucuses or the middle east or possibly to afghanistan to fight a series of wars that were breaking out. their families did not want them there. the treasuries did not want them there. the publics did not want them there. and so under great, the allies knew that they could not afford to keep these forces in the field. what's more, they couldn't depend on them. there were a number of mutinies as soldiers and sailors said, we want to go home. we don't see any points in staying here anymore. the capacity of the allies to actually influence what was happening was diminishing month by month. week by week. as the peace conference dragged on. but june 19th, 1919, when the
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question of the german treaty came up and whether or not journey would sign it, the allies and their military were really concerned about whether or not these people would force the treaty on germany if germany refused to sign it. that was another factor, they filed increasingly that their capacity to do what they wanted, especially the further away the places were in the more difficult the communications where was limited, the famous occasion when lord george climate so and wilson were sitting around and fighting, think if i'm right between poland and czechoslovakia over small but rather rich country that contained railways junctions and coal mines and so on. and as poland czechoslovakia her son to fight about it, they said no. lois george and clemenceau said this is dreadful. they called in the supreme allied commander. they said we've got to do something and he said of course i will follow orders, tell me what to do, which is what he tended to say. and they said well i need to go
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over there and stop the fighting and he said absolutely, but i don't think i can do it. because the railways aren't running and there's no way i can actually troops over there. and so they'll look at each other and something like consternation. and lloyd george said who was always optimistic, said i have it. they turn to him with a certain amount of hope and set, we will send both sides extremely strong telegrams. i'm just trying to get a sense of what it was they were dealing with and the context that they were dealing with and the world with which they were dealing. this was not a world that was easy to settle. because things were changing very quickly. it was a world in which you had these forces, forces of revolutionary socialism. forces of ethnic nationalism. publics, which were putting terrific pressure on their governments, which were in some cases pressure to do contradictory things. and they were dealing with many great things at once. many of the books written on
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the paris peace conference tends to assume, it's the only way they can do it, that there was this sort of polish question constantly before the peacemakers. or a bulgarian question constantly before the peacemakers. of course they were dealing with about tender things a day. or more, they were constantly getting petitions and demands coming in, plus pressures from home to get a settlement quickly. and so i think if they made mistakes, and of course they made mistakes, it can at least partly be explained by the pressures under which they were dealing and by the range of problems with which they were dealing. the congress of vienna at the end of the napoleon war's, was much quieter by comparison when they had a very clear agenda and they were able to sit down with the defeated nations. this is one of the great problems later on, with the paris peace conference, and one of the reasons the germans came to resent it so bitterly. it was that there was no peace negotiation between the winners and losers in paris. there was meant to be.
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the allies thought that they would have a peace conference on the lines of the congress of vienna. or later congress is in europe. and they thought that what they would do is they would meet briefly in paris. in january 1919. it was cold, they actually called it a preliminary peace conference until they realize that they had slipped over into the real thing. and they had come up with some agreed terms which had then offered germany and germany had negotiated and they would all sit down and as they've done in vienna and hammer out a settlement. it took them from january to may to get agreements on their peace terms. there were so many issues and so many difficulties and so many moments when the peace conference looked like breaking up. at one point, the italians walked out because they weren't getting everything they wanted. the chinese were threatening not to sign the treaty and in the end, didn't. the japanese were complaining and threatening to walk out. the belgians were saying that they would might walk out. and so by the time the allies actually agreed on the peace terms to be offered germany. they didn't dare sit down with
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germany and reopen all the discussions. it was to be something that germany resented bitterly, but i think from the allied point of view, it had been so difficult to get to this point they did not dare risk doing it. and so what they did is they cobbled together by may, a peace treaty. there is the treaty of versailles, it was probably one of the most difficult one although some of the other the treaty with the ottoman empire is going to be difficult. the treaty of versailles is the one which most people remember and which formed, as i say, a sort of template for the others. and it is a not treaty, it is something like 440 clauses. it was put together and no one actually read it through before the senate to the printers. and so what you get is everything from a very grand scheme. the first part of the treaty, the for section of the treaty is a league of nations. that was something that woodrow wilson had insisted upon and others have supported him. and so the very first part of the treaty is the covenant. the founding document of the league of nations, which sits
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out how it is to be set up. then you get a whole section on reparations that germany was to pay, oh section on disarmament, where germany was meant to undertake, but then you also get some odd little things, various other things about trying people who are guilty for starting the war. there was talk about trying the kaiser. and then there was talk about sending him into exile. like they have done with napoleon. the british offered the falkland islands, which would've been interesting if he had gone there. but in the end that didn't happen but it was a treaty which encompassed decisions for another world a better world and attempts to limit the power of germany in the future. but it also contained really very specific clauses, a foreign clause which i remember about how the germans ethnographic museum in berlin must hand back the skull of an african chief which someone had taken there in the 18 seventies. and so it was the sort of grab
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bag of into which foreign officers threw it was understandable of the germans were not going to be pleased by the process or by the treaty that they got. the attempts i think, to build a better world was a genuine one. as often it's often been said that woodrow wilson came with his vision of the league of nations to europe. varying this great gift of the promise of the europeans black hearted as usual simply spurned it. and that is, rather like cheney's portrait of the whole peace conference. it was simply not how it was. many europeans supported the league of nations. they knew very well what a war had done. many of them had survived it or they members of their families had died. you could see if you chose to, you could take a day trip north of paris and see what warhead meant and see the destruction of the war. and so i think a lot of europeans supported the league
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of nations every bit as much as american state. and indeed, many of the ideas in the league of nations came from things that europeans and others have been talking about before 1914, an attempt to build international law, an attempt to promote free trade, an attempt to build a community of nations. that would provide collective security for each other. these have been such things as been mentioned as far back as 150 years previously. emmanuel can't, the great german philosopher, who talks about a league of nations that would work together to make war impossible and so i think the lead was very real and was very real in its support that it gained but it was not a treaty that was going to satisfy germany and i think there were a number of reasons for this. and i don't think it was just that some of the treaty was unfair. there were things that germany rightly resented. it was supposed to sign a treaty, setting up a league of nations which it wasn't going
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to be a lot to join. or at least not yet. it was not given a chance to negotiate the terms of the treaty. someone so handed the terms of the treaty to germany in late may, 1919. and said here you are, you have two weeks to look at them and you can put in any reservations and writing that will be no negotiation. i think the germans resented. but if you look at what germany actually lost in that treaty, it did lose its fleet, it did lose its colonies. it had already lost those by the time of the peace conference. it did lose territories in europe. mostly territory that was inhabited by non german speakers which germany had ceased from other countries in the past and you could argue and many did at the time that germany did not lose all that much. you could also argue that germany came out of the first world war and of course germans didn't feel this but if you look back you can certainly see it. germany came out of the first world war in a stronger strategic position that it had
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been before the first world war. because after the first world war ended, there was no more common borders between russia and germany. there was not poland in between them, and there was no austria hungry which had been arrival to germany and even as an ally had been an uncertain ally and fall into pieces. and so what had once worry the german high command and with reason, which was the power of russia in the capacity of russia increasingly the capacity of russia to move troops up to the common border, that now had a barrier between germany and russia. russia itself of course was plunged into a civil war. but part of the russian threats had been removed and instead of austria hungry nations which was relatively easy when against the others. of course it didn't feel like that to germany at the time and what always matters i think is
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deception. perception. i don't think the germans were going to accept any treaty they were going to have to sign in 1919. in the end, of course, they did sign it. because they didn't feel that they had lost the war. increasingly, they came to feel that they had not started it either. i will explain what i mean by this because perception is very important in human affairs and international relations. the germans surrendered in 1918. but if you look at the terms of the armistice, of november the 11th, 1918, it is a surrender, it's more than a cease-fire, it's more than a conventional armistice is. germany lost all its heavy equipment it lost its fleets it lost its some marine it lost its aircraft lost its tanks it lost his feelers hillary and one german officer who is negotiating the famous railway carriage and competing said could you please leave us a few machine guns because we may need them against the revolution in germany. and so in other words, germany
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lost its capacity to make war, it lost its equipments in german troops were obliged to evacuate all troops and move back into germany. but as time went by the high command the supporters argue that germany hadn't lost and they shouldn't have signed the armistice and the background to this is that the high commands in particular, looting dwarf and hinton burke, had effectively established a middle terry dictatorship by 1918. and they had kept the civilian government and the german public and the dark about how germany was doing on the battlefield. and germany by the summer of 1918 was doing very badly on the battlefield it was beginning to fall back german troops were increasingly what to sign on because. it and have the equipment they needed and they're endless desperate pleas from german officers in german generals and so on, there are
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president to make an armistice. at the time, the german high command recognize that it was being defeated, and wanted to salvage something out of this. the civilian government appeal to woodrow wilson. he publicly was an exchange of notes, they came to an agreement for an armistice in an armistice was signed. the high command then switched its tune and said we could afford armistice disability government that didn't want to
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fight on. the same of ludendorff who had panicked and fled to sweden disguised in a funny hat and said they are traitors at home. we could have fought on. very ominously, he began and others and his supporters said that germany was stabbed in the back. it could have fought on at that had not been for this civilian government but those civilians who are out demonstrating against an increasingly futile war. those enemies with stab germany in the back were the socialists, the liberals and the jews. and this was going to become political rhetoric of the 1920s and then of course into the 1930s. if you don't think you've lost the war and that is increasingly what german public opinion began to feel then you don't think the treaty is going to be fair. does anyone know someone who's gone to civil litigation in a court and has come out saying oh the judge was absolutely fair. i lost? it's right that i lost in this
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right that i would have to pay a fine. germany like anyone who loses who doesn't feel that they should have lost did not feel the german public opinion did not feel that they lost the war. what also began to happen is increasingly germany and others came to feel that germany had started the war. the allies were clear in their own minds. in paris in 1919 the germany and its allies the start of the war but it does begin to creep in and in the english speaking countries, not so much in france but certainly in the english speaking countries that maybe germany hadn't really started the war maybe the war had been an accident. or maybe the french had made the russians on and the germans again not all germans but the germans foreign ministry had set up a special unit and-funded organizations to attack the prevailing view that germany had started the war and they invited academics and american academics in particular to calm and look at our archives which are very carefully selected to show the germany had really wanted peace
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and somehow the world happened. by the end of the 1920s, the view certainly as i say in english speaking countries was the war had not been germany's fault. it had been simply something that it happened in europe. it had been no one's fault or everyone's fault. and so again, that undermined the treaty it undermined the validity of the treaty because if germany hadn't started the war, and if it hadn't lost the war, then why should it be paying reparations, why should they be paying any form of recompense for the war. you get a treaty that doesn't want to be signed and allies should have been enforcing it particularly britain and the united states not wanting to enforce it. and i think that is what helped to make the situation so difficult. what you also got us allies who felt that they hadn't got everything they want it. the italians who have joined on the allied side hoping to get more territory and complete the italian national unification they came to call the peace the
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mutilation piece because they felt they hadn't gotten the promise and that helps to fuel mutually knees rise to power. the peace settlements maiden powers left behind a great deal of resentment and left behind a great deal of dissatisfaction and those who should have been thinking of enforcing the british the french and the americans for their own reasons we're going to separate ways the united states in the end of course didn't ratify the treaty and therefore didn't join the league of nations and in turned away from europe understandably and began to preoccupy itself more with what was going on in its own hemisphere and war with what was going on in japan and asia. the british turned as they have often done to their empire and began to turn their backs a bit on europe and that lit the french let them feeling defenseless and worried about their security and try to find allies on the other side of germany and from some of these new states in the center of europe which of course may germany feel surrounded and tended to reinforce the nationalistic and revanchist
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feeling in germany. having said that, that it wasn't a perfect piece, and it left all sorts of dissidents behind it. i think we can also look at the 1920s and see that there were signs of hope. that we have tossed them too much in the 1920s as a brief breathing space before the disaster of the 1930s and the slide down towards the second world war. but if you actually look at the 1920s, if they had lasted longer if that period had last longer, i think you could see real signs of hope. europe did get back on to a sort of even footing. revolution was content and democracy proved to be more resilient i think and many others have thought european production was back to what it has been before the first world war. and europeans were beginning to lift reasonable and prosper lives again and it didn't mean in every country but of course there were memories of the dreadful inflation of the 1920s. it began to affect urban public opinion.
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they did come into existence and did not have the united states as a member and they got up and running and they began to set up a number of institutions which did begin to improve the international environment the international labor organization the international forthright organization try and deal with human slavery many of them are still with us today and set up in the 1920s and did i think did begin to make the deal progress and there was a lot of support for the league of nations. around the world. the united kingdom, there was a league of nations society which had something like 25 million members. this was something that i think people put a great deal of hope in. and the leak also sponsored other countries sponsored the storm irma conferences. and so the seem to be progress in the 1920s towards dealing with some of the things that helped cause the first world war. the washington naval conference was very important in 1921 naval war the from pacific and
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countries voluntarily who the signs of the battleships and naval craft, voluntarily they don't want to work on the islands. the league of nations sponsored big government conferences in geneva which people hoped would really move towards getting rid of some of the weapons and limited, it was a great sign of hope that the united states and france had created the pact of power so the breonna collect pack, named after the two band who created it, has some 61 countries signed on and promise not to use warts and instruments of states, and so they really thought that maybe we're making some progress after the first world war to setting up international organizations to dealing with the scourge of arms races. they tried actually to move past war. germany settle down they started a community and a 1925
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the site a series of agreement and they would not try by force, they joined the league of nations although it remained a revolutionary power and actually became an ordinary power they could see signs and things were getting back to more stable order and maybe the world was even moving beyond what had existed in 1914. i think in 1929, you have the beginnings of the great depression. i think without the great depression, without those years when world trade thousands of millions of people were thrown out of work, 25% of the american labor force was thrown out of work. what was years with shake people's faith in capitalism and democracy. and it's turned them in many countries towards more radical parties which promised easy and painless solutions.
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it turned them towards the radical party toward the left and the radical parties of the right. so i think to look at the paris press conferences something just to go back to my original point something the lip directly to the second world war, we need to look at what actually happened as a result of the conference. in the 1920s and we need to look at what happened with the great depression. we have second world war as we know even more dreadful and more far-reaching is in effect then the first world war finally enough, after that war, we did get a sort of peace. we had no comprehensive peace settlements but possibly you could argue the big peace conferences are in themselves part of the problem but what i think is also interesting after the second world war is that the defeated nations were treated even worse than they were treated after the first world war. germany and japan were obliged to surrender unconditionally and that was partly or very largely because of the allies didn't want any doubts to sign about who had lost and why.
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and both were occupied, both were treated very harshly indeed in the german case, reparations were squeezed out in the soviet zone. but we don't hear. complaints about the settlements at the end of the second world war. we seem to have moved on. the summaries of what happened at the end of the first war is still seen as a very bad example. i'm not going to defend it all, but i would like to leave you the question. are we any better at making peace. thank you. (applause) >> ladies and gentlemen know that you are used to a ten minute period q&as but you will notice in our q&a that it is a bit longer than that. just know that i'm not going to keep my normal profession scheduling for these things. you know that there are two microphones down here so it is
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first come first serve and we are looking forward to this continued conversation. i have a question, you want to say a few words about of ovarian separatist movement?
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