Saturday, June 27, 2009

Framework of Events: May/June at the Paris Peace Conference

OK, so I have bitten off more than I can chew! But that doesn't mean that we can't continue exploring important aspects of the "peace" year and even beyond. To those who are still reading, many thanks for your patience in waiting for the recent posts. In the coming days, we will be dealing with the German territorial issues, especially North Schleswig, and Upper Silesia, as they were embodied in the Draft Treaty of May 1919 and the Final Draft of June. And I want to come to grips in the next couple of posts with the issue of the "dictated peace."

For now, I want to get another framework of events up front, so that the various issues to come make more sense. First, a simple chronology.

April 25—First German Delegates arrive in Paris.

April 28—The Covenant of the League of Nations (worked out by Jan Smuts) was presented in final form, to be integral to the coming treaties and agreements.

April 29—The German Foreign Minister, Ulrich von Brockdorff-Rantzau arrives in Paris.

May 5—The Italian delegation returns to Paris, after having left abruptly eleven days previously.

(as the Draft Treaty for the Germans was hammered together during April, the French were increasingly adamant that the German treaty must include Germany's cession of all territories west of the Rhine, to make the Rhine the Franco-German border, for security reasons. )

May 7—The Draft Treaty was submitted to the German Delegation in the Seventh Plenary Session of the Peace Conference, held at the Trianon Palace at Versailles. The Germans were given fifteen days to "reply" to the terms of the Treaty in writing (in the French language). (Nine additional days were added a few weeks later.)

May 8—The Germans protested a number of specific terms, while the Foreign Office and ot

her German government branches began compiling materials for the Reply.

May 12—The Allied Economic Council decided to continue wartime Blockade against Germany if the Germans refused to sign the Treaty. (Although the Blockade on foodstuffs was still in effect, the Allies had allowed some limited deliveries since March 25.)

May 13—Brockdorff-Rantzau sends Note to Clemenceau refusing the Treaty clause in which Germany is to accept sole responsibility for the war.

June 2—Austrian Draft Treaty handed to Austrian Delegation.

June 3—Germany protests French support for an independent Rhine Republic.

June 12—Turkish delegation arrives at Paris.

June 16—Final Allied reply to a list of German objections to the Treaty. The Allies give the Germans five days to sign.

June 20—Centrist German cabinet (SPD, DDP, Center), led by Philipp Scheidemann, resigns after emotional meetings about the Treaty, Scheidemann saying "The hand which signs this Treaty will wither." All political elements in Germany oppose the Treaty, and the Foreign Minister, Brockdorff-Rantzau, is opposed to signing.

Same day, the Allied Supreme Council orders Marshal Foch to prepare to advance from occupied to unoccupied Germany if the Germans have not signed the Treaty by seven o'clock PM on June 23.

June 21—The German fleet, commanded by Rear Admiral Ludwig von Reuter and interned by the Allies in Gutter Sound at Scapa Flow, is scuttled by its crews, an open act of defiance: sunk were dozens of vessels, including fifteen capital ships. In trying to prevent the scuttling, British ships opened fire, killing nine Germans and wounding six.

June 22—In a Sunday session, and after much discussion, votes 237-138 to sign the Treaty, with reservations on the "war guilt" clause. The same day, the Supreme Council refused to recognize any signing with reservations.

June 23—The Germans seek a delay, which is refused. At 6:35 in the evening, twenty-five minutes before the deadline, German officials announce that Germany will sign the treaty without reservations, but under protest. The German National Assembly sends a telegram acceding, but calling the whole process "injustice without example."

June 28—At the Ninth Plenary Session of the Peace Conference, in the Hall of Mirrors at Versailles, the official signing of the Treaty took place. Signing for the Germans was Foreign Minister Hermann Müller (SPD) and Colonial Minister Johannes Bell (Center Party).

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Design of a Violent Century by Hunt Tooley is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.