Who signed the Versailles Treaty ?
The US President, the French and the British, come up with the idea of a international body designed to avoid war in the futur. They call it « The League of Nations ». On June 28, 1919, at the Palace of Versailles, five years day to day after the assassination in Sarajevo, delegates from all the nations that were war with Germany sit down together. They are ready to sign the Treaty. The famous Hall of mirrors has been choosen for the signing. That was here that Willam the First was crowned Emperor of Germany after defeating France in 1871. In this highly symbolic sitting, the German representatives must sign the Treaty of Versailles, which is imposed by the victors. Hitler will later call it « the Diktat ».
The Allies divide up Germany's colonies among themselves. The Treaty has many critics. The renowned British economist, John Maynard Keynes, writes : « If we take the view that Germany must be kept poverish, and her children starve, vengeance, I dare predict, will not limp. » But for Clemenceau, what matters above all is the return of Alsace-Lorraine to France, with the fields of the Saar Valley. Austria-Hungary ceases to exist, with some areas going to Italy, and others becoming new countries, between 1919 and 1922. Germany is divided in 2 by the polish corridor, Dantzig, intended to give Poland the access to the sea. Russia is excluded from the Treaty. After a bloody civil wars, it becomes the Soviet Union, the USSR.
Wilson sales back home. Americans are hostile to the Treaty and Congress fails to ratify it. The Senator from Pennsylvania, Philander C. Knox, tells Wilson : « Mister President, this treaty does not spell peace but war, war more woefull and devastating that the one we have but now closed. »
Voir l'épisode en version française ici.