Success or Failure
At the end of World War I (WWI), as with most wars, it was necessary to hold a peace conference and due to the number of countries involved in the war, this task was extremely imposing. The desired conclusion of this conference was world peace, but with approximately 75% of the world nations represented and each country having it’s own agenda, the search for peace was elusive because of a desire for vengeance. This vengeance may have set the stage for World War II.
On January 12th, 1919, the Paris Peace Conference (PPC) opened at several different venues, in and around Paris, France, but was moved to the Versailles Palace because of the number of attendees. As many as 32 World Leaders were represented at the PPC, but the negotiations were basically between the Triple Entente, (Britain, France and Italy), Japan and the United States.
Each country and leader came with individual expectations, and with so many voices desiring to be heard, protocol had to be found. This was accomplished by allowing the main negotiators to be Georges Clemenceau (France), David Lloyd George (Britain), Vittorio Orlando (Italy), and Woodrow Wilson (United States). The actually number of treaties agreed upon at the PPC were five, the Treaties of Versailles with Germany, St. Germain with Austria, Trainon with Hungary, Neuilly with Bulgaria and Serves with Turkey . Though the most renown treaty is the Versailles Treaty, because it dealt with Germany, who was generally seen as the driving force behind WWI.
To understand the prospectives, emotions and desire for revenge against the Triple Alliance, and Germany in general, you have to know that a vast majority of Europe had been destroyed, decimated and that the number of casualties were in the millions. It is estimated that the Triple Entente, Belgium, and America, suffered over 4.2 million soldier deaths and 4.5 million soldiers wounded, and 3.6 million soldiers killed on the side of the Triple Alliance and Bulgaria. The total deaths of all nations, civilian and soldier deaths, who fought in WWI, are thought to be well over 8.5 million deaths and 21 million being wounded.
The desire of revenge against Germany and the countries that fought with them, resonated through out the conference. In secret treaties, held prior to the end of the war, the PPC outcome had basically already been decided. Europe was determined to make Germany pay and the actual treaty, in essence, was victory-with-vengeance. Woodrow Wilson brought his Fourteen Points document to the peace table hoping to change the way of thinking in Europe, but he was up against centuries of inbred infighting. Wilson’s Fourteen Points, which included the following four;
1) no more secret treaties
2) countries must seek to reduce their weapons and their armed forces
3) national self-determination should allow people of the same nationality to govern themselves and one nationality should not have the power to govern another