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In response to Pof Jervis’ post of 18 November re German war guilt I am not a lawyer, nor a political scientist, nor an IR person, but I shall answer as many questions as I can. Long ago, I did much research on the peace conference and the Allied-German diplomacy of the 1920s, but unfortunate circumstances at my former institution prevented completion of the work before my health broke. The documents indicate clearly that the authors of Art 231 (lawyers and financial experts) were concerned to establish a firm legal basis for German reparation payments. As Prof Keylor indicated, any war guilt clause would have emanated from the Commission on Responsibility. Germany expected a war guilt clause and so seized on Art 231, though Austria and Hungary did not interpret their identic clauses that way. This is not news. International historians have long been saying these things – and that the Versailles treaty was not a disaster – , but we seem to shout into the wind. So-called historical truths seem to be in the air and everybody “knows.” Prof. Moise, who is an expert on the military history of the Vietnam War, is very unusual in that he has actually read Art 231. Most who denounce it have not. Art. 231 was not the only issue. Germany protested nearly all the terms, partly because public reaction was intense. As I said in the article under review, the heated German-Allied exchanges before the treaty was signed converted Art 231 into something of an unofficial war guilt clause – but the treaty did not. Germany mounted a huge and thorough propaganda effort against many clauses, including Art. 231. For two articles shedding light on this, see Herman J Wittgens, “War Guilt Propaganda by the German Foreign Ministry during the 1920s” in _Historical Papers, 1980_ (Canadian Historical Assn, 1981) and Holger H Herwig, “Clio Deceived: Patriotic Self-Censorship in Germany after the Great War,” _International Security_ 12 (1987). Also, in looking into French use of colonial troops in the occupied Rhineland, I discovered that Anglo-American stamp dealers were flooded with racist propaganda about “black African savages,” which offended them. I think the intense popular German reaction to the Versailles treaty, which led to the propaganda campaign, arose from the fact that in November 1918 the German people expected imminent victory and were stunned by the Armistice. In their unscathed homeland, most of which the victors did not occupy, they soon convinced themselves that the German army was not defeated (which was unthinkable) and that the war had been fought to a draw. So Wilson’s ”just peace” meant the status quo ante bellum with improvements (notably Austria) and no losses other than a few border districts to a Poland carved out of Austria and Russia. The victors did next to nothing to counter this. When they got the treaty, a loser’s peace, Germans were shocked almost beyond belief and deemed it “unfair,” a complaint which has echoed ever since even though many of the improvements to it suggested through the years by English-speaking historians would have led to German domination of Europe without any help from Hitler. As to post-treaty negotiations: First of all, Lloyd George, who set British policy for the 1920s, turned against France as soon as victory was in sight and was intensely hostile to his ally within a year. Like other Brits, he saw only the short-term and so thought Germany too weak and France too strong. Thus he soon aided Germany and Britain joined in arguing that the treaty was unfair, trying for de facto piecemeal revision (though I don’t think Britain ever challenged Art 231; it favored fewer reparations, but not none). The US, which soon got most of its information on certain questions from Britain, sometimes joined in. Secondly, the negotiations, which I have slogged through, concerned primarily reparations (schemes, duration, totals, division, etc) , secondarily German disarmament, occasionally other matters. I do not recall Art 231 ever coming up in formal (or even informal) negotiations. The propaganda campaign continued and, at infrequent intervals (perhaps 3 to 5 times in 6 years) the German government would issue a public blast about “unilateral war guilt”, which the Allies ignored. These do not seem to have been discussed in the German cabinet, though I don’t know about the one in late August 1925 about six weeks before Locarno, which had nothing to do with the negotiations. I can only hazard a guess that Stresemann issued it to placate ardent German Nationalists. I have long thought that there is a great deal of work to be done on the role of propaganda in shaping 20th century history and international politics. Certainly it was a factor in the history of the interwar period, especially the Weimar years. In regard to a completely different topic, I would note that during the failed Igbo war of independence from Nigeria, I was partly in London, partly in the US. In both places, everybody I encountered was rooting for the Igbos, and few knew that they had hired a marvelous Swiss p.r. firm. A few years ago, I had cause to do library research on the topic. Most of the lit is propaganda (both sides), but I found a solid work on the foreign policy of the war with much valuable background. I came away thinking maybe the Igbos weren’t the good guys after all. People were astonished. I hope all this addresses some of your questions. Sally Marks Independent Historian ------------------------ From: "Edwin Moise" <email@example.com> Date: Tue, November 19, 2013 12:43 pm I thank Dr. Marks for her explanation of the reparations bill presented to the Germans in 1921. She has made a convincing case for her original statement, that this was in fact a bill for 50 milliard gold marks, disguised as a bill for a much larger amount. This leaves the question of which should be treated as the amount called for by the Versailles Treaty, the 50 milliards demanded in 1921, or the much larger amount implied by the language of Article 232 of the treaty. A reasonable case could be made either way, so I will not argue the matter. As for her assertion once again that the Versailles Treaty "does not mention war guilt," I note that although she says that in regard to this question "the actual text matters most," she still does not quote the relevant words of the text, "damage to which the Allied and Associated Governments and their nationals have been subjected as a consequence of the war imposed upon them by the aggression of Germany and her allies," and explain why she does not think those words constitute a statement of German war guilt. As for Dr. Jervis' question about Article 231: >do we know whether those who adopted it intended it in >the narrower sense of providing the necessary legal foundations for >reparations or the broader sense of writing the historical >judgment of assessing blame? I believe there is a pretty strong historical consensus that the primary purpose of Article 231 was to provide a legal foundation for reparations. I have no idea whether John Foster Dulles, author of the first draft, left a complete enough and candid enough record of his thoughts to enable a historian to judge what secondary purposes might also have been in his mind. But by the time we get to those who adopted it, we are talking about a group decision, by a poorly organized group. It would be utterly astonishing if the records were complete enough and candid enough to make possible even a moderately reliable judgment as to what secondary and tertiary purposes might have been in the minds of the key decision makers. We should consider ourselves lucky if we can always be sure what their primary purposes were. Edwin Moise Clemson University --