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Treaty of Peace the right to take their own decisive part in the settlement of social policy and social protection.
9. The German Delegation again makes its demand for a neutral enquiry into the responsibility for the war and culpable acts in its conduct. An impartial Commission should have the right to investigate on its own responsibility the archives of all the belligerent countries and all the persons who took an important part in the
Nothing short of confidence that the question of guilt will be examined dispassionately can put the peoples lately at war with each other in the proper frame of mind for the formation of the League of Nations.
These are only the most important among the proposals which we have to make. As regards other great sacrifices and also as regards the details, the Delegation refers to the accompanying memorandum and the annex thereto.1
The time allowed us for the preparation of this memorandum was so short that it was impossible to treat all the questions exhaustively. A fruitful and illuminating negotiation could only take place by means of oral discussion. This treaty of peace is to be the greatest achievement of its kind in all history. There is no precedent for the conduct of such comprehensive negotiations by an exchange of written notes only. The feeling of the peoples who have made such immense sacrifices makes them demand that their fate should be decided by an open, unreserved exchange of ideas on the principle: "Open covenants of peace openly arrived at, after which there shall be no private international understandings of any kind, but diplomacy shall proceed always frankly and in the public view."
Germany is to put her signature to the Treaty laid before her and to carry it out. Even in her need, Justice is for her too sacred a thing to allow her to stoop to accept conditions which she cannot undertake to carry out. Treaties of Peace signed by the Great Powers have, it is true, in the history of the last decades again and again proclaimed the right of the stronger. But each of these Treaties of Peace has been a factor in originating and prolonging the World War. Whenever in this war the victor has spoken to the vanquished, at Brest-Litovsk and Bucharest, his words were but the seeds of future discord.
1 The memorandum and annex appear in Foreign Relations, The Paris Peace Conference, 1919, vi, 800.
The lofty aims which our adversaries first set before themselves in their conduct of the war, the new era of an assured peace of justice, demand a Treaty instinct with a different spirit. Only the cooperation of all nations, a cooperation of hands and spirits can build up a durable peace. We are under no delusions regarding the strength of the hatred and bitterness which this war has engendered; and yet the forces which are at work for an union of mankind are stronger now than ever they were before. The historic task of the Peace Conference of Versailles is to bring about this union.
Accept, Mr. President, the expression of my distinguished consideration.
Reply of the Allied and Associated Powers to the Observations of the German Delegation on the Conditions of Peace, and Ultimatum
Letter to the President of the German Delegation, Covering the Reply of the Allied and Associated Powers
June 16, 1919.
SIR: The Allied and Associated Powers have given the most earnest consideration to the observations of the German Delegation on the Conditions of Peace. The reply protests against the peace both on the ground that it conflicts with the terms upon which the Armistice of November 11th, 1918 was signed, and that it is a peace of violence and not of justice. The protest of the German Delegation shows that they utterly fail to understand the position in which Germany stands to-day. They seem to think that Germany has only to "make sacrifices in order to attain peace", as if this were but the end of some mere struggle for territory and power.
The Allied and Associated Powers therefore feel it necessary to begin their reply by a clear statement of the judgment passed upon the war by practically the whole of civilised mankind.
In the view of the Allied and Associated Powers the war which began on August 1st, 1914, was the greatest crime against humanity and the freedom of peoples that any nation, calling itself civilised, has ever consciously committed. For many years the rulers of Germany, true to the Prussian tradition, strove for a position of dominance in Europe. They were not satisfied with that growing pros
perity and influence to which Germany was entitled, and which all other nations were willing to accord her, in the society of free and equal peoples. They required that they should be able to dictate and tyrannise to a subservient Europe, as they dictated and tyrannised over a subservient Germany.
In order to attain their ends they used every channel in their power through which to educate their own subjects in the doctrine that might was right in international affairs. They never ceased to expand German armaments by land and sea, and to propagate the falsehood that this was necessary because Germany's neighbours were jealous of her prosperity and power. They sought to sow hostility and suspicion instead of friendship between nations. They developed a system of espionage and intrigue which enabled them to stir up internal rebellion and unrest and even to make secret offensive preparations within the territory of their neighbours whereby they might, when the moment came, strike them down with greater certainty and ease. They kept Europe in a ferment by threats of violence and when they found that their neighbours were resolved to resist their arrogant will, they determined to assert their predominance in Europe by force. As soon as their preparations were complete, they encouraged a subservient ally to declare war against Serbia at 48 hours' notice, knowing full well that a conflict involving the control of the Balkans could not be localised and almost certainly meant a general war. In order to make doubly sure, they refused every attempt at conciliation and conference until it was too late, and the world war was inevitable for which they had plotted, and for which alone among the nations they were fully equipped and prepared.
Germany's responsibility, however, is not confined to having planned and started the war. She is no less responsible for the savage and inhuman manner in which it was conducted.
Though Germany was herself a guarantor of Belgium, the rulers of Germany violated, after a solemn promise to respect it, the neutrality of this unoffending people. Not content with this, they deliberately carried out a series of promiscuous shootings and burnings with the sole object of terrifying the inhabitants into submission by the very frightfulness of their action. They were the first to use poisonous gas, notwithstanding the appalling suffering it entailed. They began the bombing and long distance shelling of towns for no military object, but solely for the purpose of reducing the morale of their opponents by striking at their women and children. They commenced the submarine campaign with its piratical
challenge to international law, and its destruction of great numbers of innocent passengers and sailors, in mid ocean, far from succour, at the mercy of the winds and the waves, and the yet more ruthless submarine crews. They drove thousands of men and women and children with brutal savagery into slavery in foreign lands. They allowed barbarities to be practised against their prisoners of war from which the most uncivilised people would have recoiled.
The conduct of Germany is almost unexampled in human history. The terrible responsibility which lies at her doors can be seen in the fact that not less than seven million dead lie buried in Europe, while more than twenty million others carry upon them the evidence of wounds and sufferings, because Germany saw fit to gratify her lust for tyranny by resort to war.
The Allied and Associated Powers believe that they will be false to those who have given their all to save the freedom of the world if they consent to treat this war on any other basis than as a crime against humanity and right.
This attitude of the Allied and Associated Powers was made perfectly clear to Germany during the war by their principal statesmen. It was defined by President Wilson in his speech of April 6, 1918, and explicitly and categorically accepted by the German people as a principle governing the peace:
"Let everything that we say, my fellow countrymen, everything that we henceforth plan and accomplish, ring true to this response till the majesty and might of our concerted power shall fill the thought and utterly defeat the force of those who flout and misprize what we honor and hold dear. Germany has once more said that force, and force alone, shall decide whether justice and peace shall reign in the affairs of men, whether Right as America conceives it or Dominion as she conceives it, shall determine the destinies of mankind. There is, therefore, but one response possible from us: Force, Force to the utmost, Force without stint or limit, righteous and triumphant Force which shall make Right the law of the world, and cast every selfish dominion down in the dust."
It was set forth clearly in a speech of the Prime Minister of Great Britain, of 14th December 1917:
"There is no security in any land without certainty of punishment. There is no protection for life, property or money in a State where the criminal is more powerful than the law. The law of nations is no exception, and, until it has been vindicated, the peace of
the world will always be at the mercy of any nation whose professors have assiduously taught it to believe that no crime is wrong so long as it leads to the aggrandisement and enrichment of the country to which they owe allegiance. There have been many times in the history of the world criminal States. We are dealing with one of them now. And there will always be criminal States until the reward of international crime becomes too precarious to make it profitable, and the punishment of international crime becomes too sure to make it attractive."
It was made clear also in an address of M. Clemenceau, of September 1918:
"What do they (the French soldiers) want? What do we ourselves want? To fight, to fight victoriously and unceasingly, until the hour when the enemy shall understand that no compromise is possible between such crime and 'justice.' . . . We only seek peace, and we wish to make it just and permanent in order that future generations may be saved from the abominations of the past."
Similarly, Signor Orlando speaking on October 3rd, 1918, declared: "We shall obtain Peace when our enemies recognise that humanity has the right and duty to safeguard itself against a continuation of such causes as have brought about this terrible slaughter; and that the blood of millions of men calls not for vengeance but for the realisation of those high ideals for which it has been so generously shed. Nobody thinks of employing-even by way of legitimate retaliation-methods of brutal violence or of overbearing domination or of suffocation of the freedom of any people-methods and policies which made the whole world rise against the Central Powers. But nobody will contend that the moral order can be restored simply because he who fails in his iniquitous endeavour declares that he has renounced his aim. Questions intimately affecting the peaceful life of Nations, once raised, must obtain the solution which Justice requires.”
Justice, therefore, is the only possible basis for the settlement of the accounts of this terrible war. Justice is what the German Delegation asks for and says that Germany had been promised. Justice is what Germany shall have. But it must be justice for all. There must be justice for the dead and wounded and for those who have been orphaned and bereaved that Europe might be freed from Prussian despotism. There must be justice for the peoples who now