Feelings after the War
'Great War', as it came to be called, had destroyed a
generation, and it is understandable that it raised high
emotions in those who went to the peace conference:
Fault - Official
War was premeditated by the Central Powers... and was the
result of acts deliberately committed in order to make it
unavoidable. Germany, in agreement with Austria-Hungary,
deliberately worked to defeat all the many peaceful proposals
made by the Entente Powers.
on the Responsibility of the Authors of the War:
to the US Secretary of State (1918)
war evoked pity and terror like no other, and when peace was
declared there was an almost animal venting of emotion in the
streets of Britain. It toppled some monarchies and shook other nations to their
roots. And of course, when it was all over, the world had been
made safe, and the war to end all wars had been fought.
Stephen, The Price of Pity (1996)
Cry for Revenge
The country was indeed at this time swept by a
sudden, vehement cry for revenge. ......
The war had brought suffering of a scale and intensity
which the harshest pessimist could not have prophesied, and
for which Britain, after a century of peace and progress, was,
psychologically speaking, peculiarly unprepared. The
interminable casualty lists, the row upon row of beardless
faces in the `Roll of Honour', the rattle through a thousand
letter-boxes of the same War Office telegram – all this
produced a stunned sense of disbelief at the annihilation of
so much youth and promise. When, with the peace, people began to come to terms with what
had happened, it was not to be expected that they would rise
overnight to the serenity of saints or sages. Even
if they wished to forget, the press would not let them. As a Cambridge newspaper put it, `Somebody has got to be
Antony Lentin, Lloyd George, Woodrow Wilson
and the Guilt of Germany (1984)
Preconditions for Peace
December 1916, president Wilson of American tried to broker a
peace between Germany and the Allies. Mr Balfour,
the British Foreign Secretary, replied:
the people of this country share to the full the desire of the
President for peace, they do not believe that peace can be
durable if it be not based on the success of the Allied cause.
For a durable peace can hardly be expected unless three
The first is that the existing causes of international unrest
should be, as far as possible, removed or weakened.
The second is that the aggressive aims and the unscrupulous
methods of the Central Powers should fall into disrepute among
their own peoples.
The third is that behind international law and behind all the
treaty arrangements for preventing or limiting hostilities
some form of international sanction should be devised which
would give pause to the hardiest aggressor.
note formed the basis of the principles which the British
government demanded at Versailles - the defeat of Germany,
self-determination, reparations and some mechanism to prevent
a repetition of the outrage of 1914.
After 4 Years of Fighting!
cartoon by WK Heselden (11 Nov 1918)
cartoon was drawn on the day of the Armistice. It
shows a German soldier against the background of ruins, trying
to be friends again (Kamerad =
attitude of the cartoonist is clear in the caption - 'after 4
years of fighting!'
made in the 1918 General Election
Times summed up the issues into these headings:
A War issue: "The outstanding feature of the campaign has
been almost universal determination to ensure that Germany
shall pay the cost of the war, that the Kaiser shall be
brought to trial, and that no opportunity shall be afforded
for any future peaceful penetration of this country".
A Peace issue: "Almost as keen as the demand for a strong
policy abroad has been the call for radical reform at home on
the subjects of land, housing, health and conditions of labour".
King-Hall, Our Own Times 1913-1934 (1934)
they were given the draft Treaty in May 1919, the Germans at
first protested and asked for them to be changed. On 16 June 1919,
Philip Kerr (Lloyd George's secretary) gave Britain's reply:
the view of the Allied and Associated Powers the war which
began on August 1, 1914, was the greatest crime against
humanity and the freedom of peoples that any nation calling
itself civilized has ever consciously committed...
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...
conduct of Germany is almost unexampled in human history. The
terrible responsibility which lies at her door can be seen in
the fact that no less than seven million dead lie buried in
Europe while more than twenty million others carry upon them
the evidence of wounds and suffering because Germany saw fit
to gratify her lust for tyranny by resort to war.
Allied and Associated Nations 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...
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 what Germany has 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
people who now stagger under war debts which exceed thirty
thousand million pounds, that Liberty might be saved. There
must be Justice for those millions whose homes and lands,
ships and property German savagery has spoliated and
to do justice to all concerned would
only leave the world open to fresh calamities.
in Andre Tardieu, The Truth about the Treaty (1921).