Thursday, January 31, 2019

Today -100: January 31, 1919: Of colonies, Posens, and Apaches

As the Peace Conference discusses the fate of Germany’s colonies, someone (the NYT does not say who) brings up the question of whether the US is violating its own alleged principles by continuing to treat Haiti and San Domingo as semi-colonies.

Australia objects to Britain’s assent to Wilson’s “internationalization” idea for the German colonies, because it might interfere with Australia’s plans to ban Japanese immigration into islands near it such as New Guinea (which it wants to annex). Prime Minister Hughes will later argue that not owning their new possessions outright would be a disincentive to invest. What’s the point of a colony if you can’t exploit it?

Poland and Czechoslovakia agree to allow the Peace Conference to decide who gets the Posen/Poznań district (55% Polish, says Poland; we want that coal, says Czech.; Germany still thinks Posen is part of Germany and is holding elections there for the Prussian Constitutional Convention). The Allies will occupy the area to keep the peace.

There have been reports of US soldiers committing assaults and murders and holdups in Paris. The AP claims these are “Apaches” – the pre-war name for Parisian street hoodlum types – in stolen uniforms, and that many of the alleged crimes never happened. Gen. William Harts says the reports of large numbers of murders by American soldiers are “untrue.” That is, he’s disputing the “large numbers” part, so I guess there are some murders by American soldiers in Paris. The Paris police chief points out that the US and Australian army uniforms really look a lot alike...

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