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IN January 1919, the plenipotentiaries (representatives sent with full powers to negotiate on behalf of their states) and delegates of over thirty Allied and Associated states assembled in Paris for a conference whose task was to restore European and world peace after the most ruinous and devastating war in the history of mankind to date. At its height, there were more than a thousand diplomats and statesmen in Paris together with many experts and advisers, far eclipsing any earlier peace-making assembly in both its size and the extent of its responsibilities. The outbreak of a second major European war in 1939 suggests that they failed to create a lasting peace but, as Gerhard Schulz points out.
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Gerhard Schulz, Revolutions and Peace Treaties, 1917–1920 (1967, 1972 translation), p. 223.
F. R. Bridge and R. Bullen, The Great Powers and the European States System 1815–1914 (1980), pp. 142–63; Salisbury, 4.5.98, see J. A. S. Grenville, Lord Salisbury and Foreign Policy: The Close of the Nineteenth Century (1964, 1970), pp. 165–66, 434–40; H. W. Koch, ‘Social Darwinism as a Factor in the “New Imperialism”’, in H. W. Koch, The Origins of the First World War: Great Power Rivalry and German War Aims (1972), pp. 329–54, 2nd edn 1984, pp. 319–42.
Paul Kennedy, The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers: Economic Change and Military Conflict from 1500 to 2000 (1989), pp. 270–71. The following section is mainly based on Kennedy, pp. 249–330.
Ibid., pp. 299–312. See ‘The Origins of the Russian Revolution’, in Clive Emsley, Conflict and Stability (1979), pp. 193–258.
Michael Howard, The Continental Commitment: The Dilemma of British Defence Policy in the Era of Two World Wars (1972), pp. 9–30; Zara Steiner, Britain and the Origins of the First World War (1977), pp. 15–21; Kennedy, Rise and Fall, pp. 290–99; G. W. Monger, The End of Isolation: British Foreign Policy 1900–1907 (1963), pp. 1–20.
Kennedy, Rise and Fall, pp. 128, 314, 261–65, 277–90.
V. R. Berghahn, Germany and the Approach of War in 1914 (1973).
Kennedy, Rise and Fall, pp. 277–82; Ken Ward, Mass Communications and the Modern World (1989), pp. 58–61.
Bernard Porter, The Lion’s Share (1975), pp. 74–232.
Coral Bell, The Conventions of Crisis: A Study in Diplomatic Management (1971), pp. 17–19.
Bridge and Bullen, The Great Powers, pp. 142–79.
Monger, End of Isolation; Howard, Continental Commitment, pp. 31–51; Jonathan Steinberg, Tirpitz and the Birth of the German Battle Fleet (1965), pp. 31–60.
There is an immense and controversial literature on the origins of the war and the July crisis. Good starting points are Anika Mombauer’s The Origins of the First World War: Controversies and Consensus (2002) and William Mulligan’s The Origins of the First World War (2010). Fritz Fischer’s two seminal studies, Germany’s War Aims in the First World War (1967, translation of 1961 original) and The War of Illusions (1973, translation of 1969 original), which challenged the existing consensus that no single country should be blamed for the war provoked a flood of books attacking, supporting or qualifying his ideas about German responsibility: Berghahn, Approach of War; Koch, Origins; Steiner, Britain; F. R. Bridge, From Sadowa to Sarajevo (1972); Richard Bosworth, Italy and the Approach of the First World War (1983); D. C. B. Lieven, Russia and the Origins of the First World War (1983); John Keiger, France and the Origins of the First World War (1983); James Joll, The Origins of the First World War (1984); Samuel Williamson, Austria-Hungary and the Origins of the First World War (1991); Keith Wilson (ed.), Decisions for War, 1914 (1995); Niall Ferguson, The Pity of War (1998). The centenary of the outbreak of the war encouraged a number of new studies of which Christopher Clark’s The Sleepwalkers: How Europe went to War in 1914 (2012) has proved the most provocative in its attempt to spread responsibility for the outcome of the July crisis away from Berlin and Vienna to the other major capitals and to focus more closely on the role of the Balkans. Thomas Otte’s The July Crisis: The World’ s Descent into War, Summer 1914 (2014) and Gordon Martel’s The Month That Changed the World: July 1914 (2014) offer balanced and sympathetic accounts of men unable, or in some cases unwilling, to manage the consequences of Franz Ferdinand’s assassination. Other studies include Sean McMeekin’s July 1914; Countdown to War (2013) and Margaret MacMillan’s The War that Ended Peace; How Europe Abandoned Peace for the First World War (2013). Alan Sharp (ed.), 28 June; Sarajevo 1914 – Versailles 1919, The War and Peace that Made the Modern World (2014), outlines how each of the states entered the war and how it concluded. Max Hastings’ Catastrophe: Europe Goes to War 1914 (2013) covers the early battles.
P. H. S. Hatton, ‘Britain and Germany in 1914: The July Crisis and War Aims’, in Koch, Origins (1972), pp. 30–35. British war aims and policy are well covered in V. H. Rothwell, British War Aims and Peace Diplomacy 1914–1918 (Oxford, 1971) and Kenneth Calder, Britain and the Origins of the New Europe 1914–1918 (Cambridge, 1976). David Stevenson, French War Aims against Germany 1914–1919 (Oxford, 1982) reveals much about French planning for peace. See Porter, Lion’s Share, pp. 233–47, Christopher Andrew and A. S. Kanya-Forstner, France Overseas: The Great War and the Climax of French Imperial Expansion (1981) and Judith Brown and W. R. Lewis (eds), The Oxford History of the British Empire: The Twentieth Century (Oxford, 1999) on imperial developments.
Montagu to Balfour, 28.12.18, FO 800/215.
See Z. A. B. Zeman, A Diplomatic History of the First World War (1971). He quotes Lloyd George’s message via Page, the American ambassador in London, 8.2.17, p. 202. David Stevenson, 1914–1918 The History of the First World War (2004), Hew Strachan, The First World War: vol. I: To Arms (2001) and Gerard de Groot, The First World War (2001), Alan Kramer Dynamic of Destruction: Culture and Mass Killing in the First World War (2007), Keith Jeffery, 1916 A Global History (2015), Alexander Watson, Ring of Steel: Germany and Austria-Hungary at War, 1914–1918 (2014).
How close run the final outcome was may be judged from David Stevenson, With Our Backs to the Wall: Victory and Defeat in 1918 (2011). L. E. Gelfand, The Inquiry (Yale, 1963); Stevenson, French War Aims; M. L. Dockrill and J. D. Goold, Peace Without Promise: Britain and the Paris Peace Conferences 1919–1923 (1981), pp. 17–29; H. Elcock, Portrait of a Decision: The Council of Four and the Treaty of Versailles (1972), pp. 22–24; Schulz, Revolutions and Peace Treaties, pp. 95–104. Volker Prott, The Politics of Self-Determination: Remaking Territories and National Identities in Europe, 1917–1923 (2016), pp. 21–53, has interesting material on peace planning and, pp. 114–122, particularly on the role of experts in Paris, a subject that has attracted recent scholarly attention.
The Rapallo conference in November 1917 had established the Supreme War Council, comprising a monthly meeting of the political leaders of France, Britain and Italy, with an American observer, and a permanent military and naval committee at Versailles. H. Rudin, Armistice, 1918 (Yale, 1944), pp. 89–96; Bullitt Lowry, Armistice 1918 (Ohio, 1996), pp. 17–18; D. Lloyd George, War Memoirs (2 vols, 1938), vol. 2, pp. 1954–6; Balfour Papers, FO 800/206; S. P. Tillman, Anglo-American Relations at the Paris Peace Conference of 1919 (Princeton, 1961), p. 41; C. Seymour, The Intimate Papers of Colonel House (4 vols, 1928), vol. 4, pp. 87–88.
Ibid., pp. 83–85; Tillman, Anglo-American Relations, p. 44.
Seymour, Intimate Papers, vol. 4, p. 167.
Ibid., vol. 3, p. 341.
Elcock, Portrait of a Decision, p. 33; J. M. Keynes, The Economic Consequences of the Peace (New York, 1920), pp. 38–39. Stevenson, French War Aims, p. 101 quotes the French postal censors’ report for 15 Jan.–15 Feb. 1918: ‘While criticisms of our own diplomacy … are frequent, the approbation given President Wilson is without reserve.’
K. N. Waltz, Man, the State and War: A Theoretical Analysis (Columbia, 1959), pp. 1–15.
The text of the Fourteen Points and relevant extracts of Wilson’s other 1918 speeches are reproduced in Temperley, vol. 1, pp. 431–48.
Principle 2 of the Four Principles (11.2.18); Particulars 4 and 5 of the Five Particulars (27.9.18); End 1 of the Four Ends (4.7.18); Particular 1 echoing Principle 1 and End 4.
Tillman, Anglo-American Relations, pp. 44–51.
Seymour, Intimate Papers, vol. 4, pp. 184–93. See also Sir William Wiseman’s comment: ‘The “Freedom of the Seas” nearly broke up the Conference’, ibid., p. 171n. Tillman, Anglo-American Relations, pp. 48–51; C. K. Webster, ‘The Congress of Vienna 1814–15 and the Conference of Paris 1919: A Comparison of their Organisation and Results’, in W. N. Medlicott (ed.), From Metternich to Hitler (1963), p. 9.
Tillman, Anglo-American Relations, p. 52. Eric Geddes reflected ruefully, on 12 November 1918, ‘Had we known how bad things were in Germany, we might have got stiffer terms.’ David French, ‘Great Britain and the German Armistice’, in Manfred Boemeke, Gerald Feldman and Elisabeth Glaser (eds), The Treaty of Versailles: A Reassessment after 75 Years (1998), pp. 69–86.
D. R. Watson, Georges Clemenceau: A Political Biography (1974), p. 335; S. Weintraub, A Stillness Heard Round the World (New York, 1985), pp. 43–166; P. Renouvin, L’Armistice de Rethondes (Paris, 1968); Bullitt Lowry, Armistice 1918; Lloyd George, Memoirs, vol. 2, pp. 1980–85; Temperley, vol. 1, pp. 459–76; Klaus Schwabe, ‘Germany’s Peace Aims’, in Boemeke et al., The Treaty of Versailles, pp. 37–67.
Seymour, Intimate Papers, vol. 4, p. 194. Charles Neu quotes House as claiming that ‘the diplomatic battle of the past few days has resulted in a complete victory’ but argues that House’s success was more apparent than real, given that the pre-armistice agreement did not commit the Allies to much. Colonel House: A Biography of Woodrow Wilson’s Silent Partner (Oxford, 2015), pp. 371–72, D. Lloyd George, The Truth about the Peace Treaties (2 vols, 1938), vol. 1, p. 80. Sir Eyre Crowe minuted in the Foreign Office 30.11.18, ‘I do not believe President Wilson has thought out his nebulous proposals’, F0371/4353. On British peace preparations generally, see Erik Goldstein, Winning the Peace: British Diplomatic Strategy, Peace Planning and the Paris Peace Conference, 1916–1920 (1991) and his chapter ‘Great Britain: The Home Front’, in Boemeke et al., The Treaty of Versailles, pp. 147–66.
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