Wednesday, May 08, 2019

Today -100: May 8, 1919: Such a confession in my mouth would be a lie

Headline of the Day -100:

The peace terms for Germany have been agreed upon. It’s the longest treaty ever. Germany will lose its colonies – Togoland, South West Africa, Tanganyika, Kamerun, German Samoa, etc –  1 million square miles and 15 million people, as well as Alsace-Lorraine. Saarland and Danzig will be internationalized, with a plebiscite in the former in a few years. It will lose territory to Poland, Denmark and Belgium (which feels short-changed). The German army will be restricted to 100,000 men, with no conscription, and the navy similarly reduced. Reparations including $5 billion or so in cash. Germany to agree to a trial of the kaiser. The NYT says, “It is a terrible punishment the German people and their mad rulers have brought upon themselves. Not only is their military power to be destroyed, but the military spirit will be crushed out of them by the stern but necessary conditions the nations impose. How great will be their moral and spiritual suffering we cannot know, for the world has its doubts about the German conscience.”

China won’t sign, in protest against Japan being awarded Germany’s rights in Shantung/Shandong. Japan orders China to ban a “national disgrace” meeting planned in Beijing.

Italy agrees to take over Fiume as a League of Nations mandate until 1923, at which time they’ll annex it fully. This is not precisely what will happen.

The US (following Britain and maybe France, I forget) recognizes Finland.

New York State bans the red flag.

Headline of the Day -100:  

Cruel aggressions would be a good name for a rock band. This is during the ceremony at which the peace terms are handed to the German delegates (although “cruel aggressions” doesn’t appear in the words quoted in the article). One of these delegates, Count Ulrich von Brockdorff-Rantazau, which is a name to conjure with, objects to the war-guilt clause: “It is demanded from us that we shall confess ourselves to be the only ones guilty in the war. Such a confession in my mouth would be a lie.” Without denying German responsibility for the war and the way in which it was fought, he points out other factors in the start of the war: the assassination of Franz Ferdinand, 50 years of imperialism by all European states, Russian mobilization, public opinion in all the countries that went to war etc. As to war crimes, they “may not be excusable, but they are committed in the struggle for victory and in the defense of national existence, and passions are aroused which make the conscience of people blunt.” He also wants Germany to be allowed to join the League of Nations. 

The French have a plane, the Farman Goliath, capable of carrying 25 passengers.

L. Frank Baum, author of 14 Oz books among others, dies at 62. What a world, what a world.

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