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The Paris Peace Conference: A Historic Gathering for Global Peace

  • The Paris Peace Conference of 1919 was a significant event in world history. It opened on 18 January 1919, marking the anniversary of the proclamation of William I as German Emperor in 1871.
  • At the conference, delegates from 27 nations were assigned to 52 commissions to prepare reports on various topics, including prisoners of war, undersea cables, international aviation, and responsibility for the war.
  • The major decisions made at the conference included the establishment of the League of Nations, the signing of five peace treaties with defeated enemies, the awarding of overseas possessions as mandates, reparations imposed on Germany, and the redrawing of national boundaries.


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>The Conference opened on 18 January 1919. This date was symbolic, as it was the anniversary of the proclamation of William I as German Emperor in 1871, in the Hall of Mirrors at the Palace of Versailles, shortly before the end of the Siege of Paris - a day itself imbued with significance in its turn in Germany as the anniversary of the establishment of the Kingdom of Prussia in 1701. The Delegates from 27 nations (delegates representing 5 nationalities were for the most part ignored) were assigned to 52 commissions, which held 1,646 sessions to prepare reports, with the help of many experts, on topics ranging from prisoners of war to undersea cables, to international aviation, to responsibility for the war. Key recommendations were folded into the Treaty of Versailles with Germany, which had 15 chapters and 440 clauses, as well as treaties for the other defeated nations. ⇒この会議は1919年1月18日に開かれたが、その日付は象徴的なものであった。1871年にドイツ皇帝としてベルサイユ宮殿の鏡のホールで宣誓したウィリアムI世の記念日であり、パリの包囲戦終結の直前であり―1701年にプロイセン王国の創立記念日としてドイツにおいて日付自体が重要な意味を内包する、そういう日だったからである。27か国からの代表団(5か国の代表はほとんど無視された)が、52の委員会に割り当てられた。戦争捕虜から海底ケーブル、国際航空、戦争責任まで、多くの専門家の助力を得て、報告書を作成するために1,646回の会合が開催された。ドイツとの「ベルサイユ条約」には、15章と440条の条約とともに、他の敗戦国に関する条約がまとめられている。 >The five major powers (France, Britain, Italy, the U.S., and Japan) controlled the Conference. Amongst the "Big Five", in practice Japan only sent a former prime minister and played a small role; and the "Big Four" leaders dominated the conference. The four met together informally 145 times and made all the major decisions, which in turn were ratified by other attendees. The open meetings of all the delegations approved the decisions made by the Big Four. The conference came to an end on 21 January 1920 with the inaugural General Assembly of the League of Nations. ⇒5大国(フランス、英国、イタリア、米国、日本)が会議を支配した。この「ビッグ・ファイブ」のうち、日本は事実上前首相を派遣しただけで、小さな役割しか果たしていない。「ビッグ・フォー」の指導者(4大巨頭)が会議を統括した。そのビッグ・フォーは、非公式に145回会合し、すべての主要決定を下し、他(国)の出席者によって批准された。すべての代表団の公開会合も、ビッグ・フォーによって行われた決定を承認した。この会議は1920年1月21日、「諸国家リーグ(同盟組織)」総会をもって終了した。 >Five major peace treaties were prepared at the Paris Peace Conference (with, in parentheses, the affected countries):  the Treaty of Versailles, 28 June 1919, (Germany)  the Treaty of Saint-Germain, 10 September 1919, (Austria)  the Treaty of Neuilly, 27 November 1919, (Bulgaria)  the Treaty of Trianon, 4 June 1920, (Hungary)  the Treaty of Sèvres, 10 August 1920; subsequently revised by the Treaty of Lausanne, 24 July 1923, (Ottoman Empire/Republic of Turkey) ⇒「パリ平和会議」では、5つの主要な平和条約が立案された(カッコ内は被告国):  「ベルサイユ条約」、1919年6月28日、(ドイツ)  「サンジェルマン条約」、1919年9月10日、(オーストリア)  「ノイリー条約」、1919年11月27日、(ブルガリア)  「トリアノン条約」、1920年6月4日、(ハンガリー)  「セヴル条約」、1920年8月10日、その後、「ローザンヌ条約」、1923年7月24日、と改定、(オスマン帝国/トルコ共和国) > The major decisions were the establishment of the League of Nations; the five peace treaties with defeated enemies; the awarding of German and Ottoman overseas possessions as "mandates", chiefly to members of the British Empire and to France; reparations imposed on Germany, and the drawing of new national boundaries (sometimes with plebiscites) to better reflect the forces of nationalism. The main result was the Treaty of Versailles, with Germany, which in section 231 laid the guilt for the war on "the aggression of Germany and her allies". This provision proved humiliating for Germany and set the stage for very high reparations Germany was supposed to pay (it paid only a small portion before reparations ended in 1931) ⇒主要な決定事項は、「国家リーグ(同盟組織)」、敗戦国との平和条約5項目、ドイツとオスマン帝国の海外所有地を「命令」として主に英国とフランスに授与すること、ドイツに賠償(責任)が課されること、それと民族的な境界をよりよく反映するために新しい国境線を引く(時には国民投票を伴う)ことであった。主な結果は、ドイツと交された「ベルサイユ条約」で、その第231節では「ドイツとその同盟国による侵略」に関する戦争犯罪が扱われている。この条項は、ドイツにとって屈辱的であり、ドイツが支払うことになる高額賠償の条項舞台になった(ただし、1931年の賠償請求期限が終わる前に支払われたのはわずかな部分のみであった)。






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    The German economy was so weak that only a small percentage of reparations was paid in hard currency. Nonetheless, even the payment of this small percentage of the original reparations (132 billion gold marks) still placed a significant burden on the German economy. Although the causes of the devastating post-war hyperinflation are complex and disputed, Germans blamed the near-collapse of their economy on the treaty, and some economists estimated that the reparations accounted for as much as one-third of the hyper-inflation. In March 1921, French and Belgian troops occupied Duisburg, which formed part of the demilitarized Rhineland, according to the Treaty of Versailles.[citation needed] In January 1923, French and Belgian forces occupied the rest of the Ruhr area as a reprisal after Germany failed to fulfill reparation payments demanded by the Versailles Treaty. The German government answered with "passive resistance", which meant that coal miners and railway workers refused to obey any instructions by the occupation forces. Production and transportation came to a standstill, but the financial consequences contributed to German hyperinflation and completely ruined public finances in Germany. Consequently, passive resistance was called off in late 1923. The end of passive resistance in the Ruhr allowed Germany to undertake a currency reform and to negotiate the Dawes Plan, which led to the withdrawal of French and Belgian troops from the Ruhr Area in 1925.In 1920, the head of the Reichswehr Hans von Seeckt clandestinely re-established the General Staff, by expanding the Truppenamt (Troop Office); purportedly a human resources section of the army. In March, 18,000 German troops entered the Rhineland under the guise of attempting to quell possible unrest by communists and in doing so violated the demilitarized zone. In response, French troops advanced further into Germany until the German troops withdrew. German officials conspired systematically to evade the clauses of the treaty, by failing to meet disarmament deadlines, refusing Allied officials access to military facilities, and maintaining and hiding weapon production. As the treaty did not ban German companies from producing war material outside of Germany, companies moved to the Netherlands, Switzerland, and Sweden. Bofors was bought by Krupp, and in 1921 German troops were sent to Sweden to test weapons. The establishment of diplomatic ties with the Soviet Union, via the Genoa Conference and Treaty of Rapallo, was also used to circumvent the Treaty of Versailles. Publicly, these diplomatic exchanges were largely in regards to trade and future economic cooperation. However, secret military clauses were included that allowed for Germany to develop weapons inside the Soviet Union. Furthermore, it allowed for Germany to establish three training areas for aviation, chemical and tank warfare.

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    The Treaty of Versailles (French: Traité de Versailles) was the most important of the peace treaties that brought World War I to an end. The Treaty ended the state of war between Germany and the Allied Powers. It was signed on 28 June 1919 in Versailles, exactly five years after the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand which directly led to World War I. The other Central Powers on the German side of World War I signed separate treaties. Although the armistice, signed on 11 November 1918, ended the actual fighting, it took six months of Allied negotiations at the Paris Peace Conference to conclude the peace treaty. The treaty was registered by the Secretariat of the League of Nations on 21 October 1919. Of the many provisions in the treaty, one of the most important and controversial required "Germany [to] accept the responsibility of Germany and her allies for causing all the loss and damage" during the war (the other members of the Central Powers signed treaties containing similar articles). This article, Article 231, later became known as the War Guilt clause. The treaty required Germany to disarm, make ample territorial concessions, and pay reparations to certain countries that had formed the Entente powers. In 1921 the total cost of these reparations was assessed at 132 billion marks (then $31.4 billion or £6.6 billion, roughly equivalent to US $442 billion or UK £284 billion in 2018). At the time economists, notably John Maynard Keynes (a British delegate to the Paris Peace Conference), predicted that the treaty was too harsh—a "Carthaginian peace"—and said the reparations figure was excessive and counter-productive, views that, since then, have been the subject of ongoing debate by historians and economists from several countries. On the other hand, prominent figures on the Allied side such as French Marshal Ferdinand Foch criticized the treaty for treating Germany too leniently. The result of these competing and sometimes conflicting goals among the victors was a compromise that left no one content: Germany was neither pacified nor conciliated, nor was it permanently weakened. The problems that arose from the treaty would lead to the Locarno Treaties, which improved relations between Germany and the other European powers, and the re-negotiation of the reparation system resulting in the Dawes Plan, the Young Plan, and the indefinite postponement of reparations at the Lausanne Conference of 1932. Although it is often referred to as the "Versailles Conference", only the actual signing of the treaty took place at the historic palace. Most of the negotiations were in Paris, with the "Big Four" meetings taking place generally at the Quai d'Orsay.

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    The British military historian Correlli Barnett claimed that the Treaty of Versailles was "extremely lenient in comparison with the peace terms that Germany herself, when she was expecting to win the war, had had in mind to impose on the Allies". Furthermore, he claimed, it was "hardly a slap on the wrist" when contrasted with the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk that Germany had imposed on a defeated Russia in March 1918, which had taken away a third of Russia's population (albeit of non-Russian ethnicity), one-half of Russia's industrial undertakings and nine-tenths of Russia's coal mines, coupled with an indemnity of six billion marks. Eventually, even under the "cruel" terms of the Treaty of Versailles, Germany′s economy had been restored to its pre-war status. Barnett also claims that, in strategic terms, Germany was in fact in a superior position following the Treaty than she had been in 1914. Germany′s eastern frontiers faced Russia and Austria, who had both in the past balanced German power. Barnett asserts that its post-war eastern borders were safer, because the former Austrian Empire fractured after the war into smaller, weaker states, Russia was wracked by revolution and civil war, and the newly restored Poland was no match for even a defeated Germany. In the West, Germany was balanced only by France and Belgium, both of which were smaller in population and less economically vibrant than Germany. Barnett concludes by saying that instead of weakening Germany, the treaty "much enhanced" German power. Britain and France should have (according to Barnett) "divided and permanently weakened" Germany by undoing Bismarck's work and partitioning Germany into smaller, weaker states so it could never have disrupted the peace of Europe again. By failing to do this and therefore not solving the problem of German power and restoring the equilibrium of Europe, Britain "had failed in her main purpose in taking part in the Great War".The British historian of modern Germany, Richard J. Evans, wrote that during the war the German right was committed to an annexationist program which aimed at Germany annexing most of Europe and Africa. Consequently, any peace treaty that did not leave Germany as the conqueror would be unacceptable to them. Short of allowing Germany to keep all the conquests of the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk, Evans argued that there was nothing that could have been done to persuade the German right to accept Versailles. Evans further noted that the parties of the Weimar Coalition, namely the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD), the social liberal German Democratic Party (DDP) and the Christian democratic Centre Party, were all equally opposed to Versailles, and it is false to claim as some historians have that opposition to Versailles also equalled opposition to the Weimar Republic.

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    The French Mandate was settled at the San Remo Conference. Comprising the region between the Euphrates River and the Syrian Desert on the east, and the Mediterranean Sea on the west, and extending from the Alma Dagh Mountains on the south to Egypt on the south; Area of territory about 60,000 sq mi (160,000 km2) with a population of about 3,000,000. Lebanon and an enlarged Syria, which were later assigned again under League of Nations Mandate. The region was divided under the French into four governments as follows: Government of Aleppo from the Euphrates region to the Mediterranean; Great Lebanon extending from Tripoli to Palestine; Damascus, including Damascus, Hama, Hems, and the Hauran; and the country of Mount Arisarieh. Faisal ibn Husayn, who had been proclaimed king of Syria by a Syrian National Congress in Damascus in March 1920, was ejected by the French in July of the same year. Kingdom of Hejaz The Kingdom of Hejaz was granted international recognition. Estimated area of 100,000 sq mi (260,000 km2), and population of about 750,000. The biggest cities were the Holy Places of Makka, with a population of 80,000, and Medina, with a population of 40,000. It had constituted the vilayet of Hejaz, but during the war became an independent kingdom under British influence. The terms of the Treaty of Sèvres were far more severe than those imposed on the German Empire by the Treaty of Versailles. France, Italy, and Great Britain had secretly begun the partitioning of the Ottoman Empire as early as 1915. The open negotiations covered a period of more than fifteen months, beginning at the Paris Peace Conference. They continued at the Conference of London, and took definite shape only after the premiers' meeting at the San Remo conference in April 1920. The delay occurred because the powers could not come to an agreement which, in turn, hinged on the outcome of the Turkish national movement. The Treaty of Sèvres was annulled in the course of the Turkish War of Independence, and the parties signed and ratified the Treaty of Lausanne in 1923 and 1924. Not all signatories of the Treaty of Sèvres were parties to the Treaty of Lausanne, nor was there a valid international act of annulment of the Treaty of Sèvres. Therefore, the Treaty of Sèvres remains a valid instrument of international law, although the Lausanne signatories have chosen not to implement it. While the treaty was under discussion, the Turkish national movement under Mustafa Kemal Pasha split with the monarchy based in Constantinople, and set up a Turkish Grand National Assembly in Ankara in April 1920. On 18 October, the government of Damat Ferid Pasha was replaced by a provisional ministry under Ahmed Tevfik Pasha as Grand Vizier, who announced an intention to convoke the Senate with the purpose of ratification of the Treaty, provided that national unity were achieved. This required seeking for cooperation with Mustafa Kemal.

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    Finally, Evans argued that it is untrue that Versailles caused the premature end of the Republic, instead contending that it was the Great Depression of the early 1930s that put an end to German democracy. He also argued that Versailles was not the "main cause" of National Socialism and the German economy was "only marginally influenced by the impact of reparations". Ewa Thompson points out that the treaty allowed numerous nations in Central and Eastern Europe to liberate themselves from oppressive German rule, a fact that is often neglected by Western historiography, more interested in understanding the German point of view. In nations that found themselves free as the result of the treaty—such as Poles or Czechs—it is seen as a symbol of recognition of wrongs committed against small nations by their much larger aggressive neighbours. Regardless of modern strategic or economic analysis, resentment caused by the treaty sowed fertile psychological ground for the eventual rise of the Nazi Party.[citation needed] The German historian Detlev Peukert wrote that Versailles was far from the impossible peace that most Germans claimed it was during the interwar period, and though not without flaws was actually quite reasonable to Germany. Rather, Peukert argued that it was widely believed in Germany that Versailles was a totally unreasonable treaty, and it was this "perception" rather than the "reality" of the Versailles treaty that mattered. Peukert noted that because of the "millenarian hopes" created in Germany during World War I when for a time it appeared that Germany was on the verge of conquering all of Europe, any peace treaty the Allies of World War I imposed on the defeated German Reich were bound to create a nationalist backlash, and there was nothing the Allies could have done to avoid that backlash. Having noted that much, Peukert commented that the policy of rapprochement with the Western powers that Gustav Stresemann carried out between 1923 and 1929 were constructive policies that might have allowed Germany to play a more positive role in Europe, and that it was not true that German democracy was doomed to die in 1919 because of Versailles. Finally, Peukert argued that it was the Great Depression and the turn to a nationalist policy of autarky within Germany at the same time that finished off the Weimar Republic, not the Treaty of Versailles. French historian Raymond Cartier states that millions of Germans in the Sudetenland and in Posen-West Prussia were placed under foreign rule in a hostile environment, where harassment and violation of rights by authorities are documented.

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    As the conference's decisions were enacted unilaterally, and largely on the whims of the Big Four, for its duration Paris was effectively the center of a world government, which deliberated over and implemented the sweeping changes to the political geography of Europe. Most famously, the Treaty of Versailles itself weakened Germany's military and placed full blame for the war and costly reparations on Germany's shoulders – the humiliation and resentment in Germany is sometimes considered[by whom?] one of the causes of Nazi electoral successes and indirectly a cause of World War II. The League of Nations proved controversial in the United States as critics said it subverted the powers of Congress to declare war; the U.S. Senate did not ratify any of the peace treaties and the U.S. never joined the League – instead, the Harding administration of 1921-1923 concluded new treaties with Germany, Austria, and Hungary. Republican Germany was not invited to attend the conference at Versailles. Representatives of White Russia (but not Communist Russia) were present. Numerous other nations did send delegations in order to appeal for various unsuccessful additions to the treaties; parties lobbied for causes ranging from independence for the countries of the South Caucasus to Japan's unsuccessful demand for racial equality amongst the other Great Powers. A central issue of the Conference was the disposition of the overseas colonies of Germany. (Austria did not have colonies and the Ottoman Empire presented a separate issue.) The British dominions wanted their reward for their sacrifice. Australia wanted New Guinea, New Zealand wanted Samoa, and South Africa wanted South West Africa (modern Namibia). Wilson wanted the League of Nations to administer all the German colonies until such time as they were ready for independence. Lloyd George realized he needed to support his dominions, and he proposed a compromise that there be three types of mandates. Mandates for the Turkish provinces were one category; they would be divided up between Britain and France. The second category, comprising New Guinea, Samoa, and South West Africa, were located so close to responsible supervisors that the mandates could hardly be given to anyone except Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa. Finally, the African colonies would need the careful supervision as "Class B" mandates that could only be provided by experienced colonial powers Britain, France, and Belgium; Italy and Portugal received small bits of territory. Wilson and the others finally went along with the solution. The dominions received "Class C Mandates" to the colonies they wanted. Japan obtained mandates over German possessions north of the equator.

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    Position of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation The Treaty of Kars is overtly rejected by the Armenian Revolutionary Federation. The ARF specifically condemns the treaty as a "gross violation of international law" and argues that, because the three Transcaucasian republics were under the control of Moscow in 1921, their independent consent was questionable. The ARF also questions the validity of the treaty based on the authorities of the sides that concluded it. They contend that the Grand National Assembly of Turkey had no legal authority to sign international treaties. In addition, they argue that because the USSR was not founded until 1922, and therefore not a recognized state, it was also "not a subject of international law and, naturally, its government had no authority to enter into international treaties." Aftermath of the 2015 Russian Sukhoi Su-24 shootdown Following the shootdown of the Russian Sukhoi Su-24 over the Syria–Turkey border in November 2015 and the rise of Russo-Turkish tensions, members of the Communist Party of Russia proposed annulling the Treaty of Moscow and by extension the Kars treaty. Initially, the Russian Foreign Ministry considered this action in order to send a political message to the government of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. However, Moscow ultimately decided against it in its effort to de-escalate tensions with Ankara. Genoa Conference (1922) The Genoa Economic and Financial Conference was a formal international conclave of 34 nations held in Genoa, Italy from 10 April to 19 May 1922. It was planned by British prime minister David Lloyd George to resolve the major economic and political issues facing Europe, and to deal with the pariah nations of Germany and Russia, both of which had been excluded from the Paris Peace Conference of 1919. The conference was particularly interested in developing a strategy to rebuild defeated Germany, as well as central and eastern Europe, and to negotiate a relationship between European capitalist economies and the new Bolshevik regime in Soviet Russia. However Russia and Germany signed a separate agreement at Rapallo and the result at Genoa was a fiasco with few positive results. The conference did come up with a proposal for resuming the gold standard that was largely put in place by major countries. Genoa Conference (1922) ジェノア会議

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    After the Versailles conference, Democratic President Woodrow Wilson claimed that "at last the world knows America as the savior of the world!" However, the Republican Party, led by Henry Cabot Lodge, controlled the US Senate after the election of 1918, and the senators were divided into multiple positions on the Versailles question. It proved possible to build a majority coalition, but impossible to build a two-thirds coalition that was needed to pass a treaty. A discontent bloc of 12–18 "Irreconcilables", mostly Republicans but also representatives of the Irish and German Democrats, fiercely opposed the treaty. One block of Democrats strongly supported the Versailles Treaty, even with reservations added by Lodge. A second group of Democrats supported the treaty but followed Wilson in opposing any amendments or reservations. The largest bloc, led by Senator Lodge, comprised a majority of the Republicans. They wanted a treaty with reservations, especially on Article 10, which involved the power of the League of Nations to make war without a vote by the US Congress. All of the Irreconcilables were bitter enemies of President Wilson, and he launched a nationwide speaking tour in the summer of 1919 to refute them. However, Wilson collapsed midway with a serious stroke that effectively ruined his leadership skills. The closest the treaty came to passage was on 19 November 1919, as Lodge and his Republicans formed a coalition with the pro-Treaty Democrats, and were close to a two-thirds majority for a Treaty with reservations, but Wilson rejected this compromise and enough Democrats followed his lead to permanently end the chances for ratification. Among the American public as a whole, the Irish Catholics and the German Americans were intensely opposed to the treaty, saying it favored the British. After Wilson's presidency, his successor Republican President Warren G. Harding continued American opposition to the formation of the League of Nations. Congress subsequently passed the Knox–Porter Resolution bringing a formal end to hostilities between the United States and the Central Powers. It was signed into law by President Harding on 2 July 1921. Soon after, the US–German Peace Treaty of 1921 was signed in Berlin on 25 August 1921, the US–Austrian Peace Treaty of 1921 was signed in Vienna on 24 August 1921, and the US–Hungarian Peace Treaty of 1921 was signed in Budapest on 29 August 1921.

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    The idea for a general economic and financial conference of European nations had roots in a January 1922 session of the Supreme War Council held in Cannes. With Europe facing an economic catastrophe brought about by half a decade of World War, marked by millions of deaths, shattered infrastructure, and vast sums of squandered economic resources, British prime minister David Lloyd George sought an authoritative international gathering to set Europe's political and financial house in order, and to firmly establish his leadership at home. The formal proposal was made at Cannes on 6 January 1922 in the form of a draft resolution presented by Lloyd George and approved unanimously that same day calling for such a conference. Lloyd George told his parliament that the primary intent of the conference was to provide for "reconstruction of economic Europe, devastated and broken into fragments by the desolating agency of war. The economy of Europe was at the point of collapse, Lloyd George noted: "If European countries had gathered together their mobile wealth accumulated by centuries of industry and thrift on to one pyramid and then set fire to it, the result could hardly have been more complete. International trade has been disorganized through and through. The recognized medium of commerce, exchange based upon currency, has become almost worthless and unworkable; vast areas, upon which Europe has hitherto depended for a large proportion of its food supplies and its raw material, completely destroyed for all purposes of commerce; nations, instead of cooperating to restore, broken up by suspicions and creating difficulties and new artificial restrictions; great armies ready to march, and nations already overburdened with taxation having to bear the additional taxation which the maintenance of these huge armaments to avoid suspected dangers renders necessary." Lloyd George controversially sought the inclusion of Germany and Soviet Russia to the international conference as equal members, which met with the particular opposition of France, which sought to neutralize and isolate the two pariah nations of Europe by including them only in an inferior capacity. Any softening in the hardline stance towards Germany was perceived by France as a weakening of the Treaty of Versailles, of which it was a prime beneficiary and to which it was immutably committed.

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    One, Charlie Simpson, had with him about £10,000 which was all the cash from the government offices and businesses in Kasama, which he buried in a goat pen near the rubber factory he ran, thinking that the goats' hoofprints would hide evidence of digging, and that the Germans would probably be more interested in the goats than looking for the money. On arrival at the Chambeshi the Germans machine-gunned the rubber factory before Croad arrived with the telegram. The Monument was unveiled on 14 November 1953 as a National Monument of Northern Rhodesia (as the country was then) and consists of a large stone platform with the plaques set into a stone pillar, next to a cannon of the era (but not one used by the Germans). The Paris Peace Conference, also known as Versailles Peace Conference, was the meeting of the victorious Allied Powers following the end of World War I to set the peace terms for the defeated Central Powers. Involving diplomats from 32 countries and nationalities, the major or main decisions were the creation of the League of Nations, as well as the five peace treaties with the defeated states; the awarding of German and Ottoman overseas possessions as "mandates", chiefly to Britain and France; reparations imposed on Germany; and the drawing of new national boundaries (sometimes with plebiscites) to better reflect ethnic boundaries. The main result was the Treaty of Versailles with Germany, which in section 231 laid the guilt for the war on "the aggression of Germany and her allies". This provision proved humiliating for Germany and set the stage for the expensive reparations Germany was intended to pay (it paid only a small portion before reparations ended in 1931). The five major powers (France, Britain, Italy, Japan and the United States) controlled the Conference. And the "Big Four" were the Prime Minister of France, Georges Clemenceau; the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, David Lloyd George; the President of the United States, Woodrow Wilson; and the Prime Minister of Italy, Vittorio Emanuele Orlando. They met together informally 145 times and made all the major decisions, which in turn were ratified by the others. The conference began on 18 January 1919, and with respect to its end date Professor Michael Neiberg has noted: Although the senior statesmen stopped working personally on the conference in June 1919, the formal peace process did not really end until July 1923, when the Treaty of Lausanne was signed".