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DURING the second quarter of 1919 the sessions of the Peace Conference at Paris engrossed the world's attention. Momentous decisions were in the making. No more intricate problems had ever faced a deliberative body. Racial antipathies were virulent; national aspirations clamored for satisfaction. Ideal solutions had to be modified to meet actual conditions. The task of the conference involved little less than the reconstitution of the world.
The most serious problem, and one that threatened for a time to result in the withdrawal of Italy from the conference, was that relating to the disposition of Fiume, the former Hungarian seaport, which was claimed both by Italy and Jugoslavia. The opposing views can be briefly stated. The contention of Jugoslavia was that while Fiume itself contained a preponderant Italian population, the vast majority of those in the hinterland were of Jugoslavic birth and sympathies, and that in order to assure their national development they should have Fiume, which was their natural outlet to the sea. The idea that this would prove a military threat to Italy was dismissed as baseless, in view of Italy's power and her possession of the larger part of the Adriatic littoral. Moreover, the League of Nations was relied on to prevent war. It was pointed out that Italy's commercial needs were amply provided for by the possession of Trieste.
Italy claimed that she needed both Trieste and Fiume, in order to serve effectively the interests of the populations concerned. She declared also that the total trade of Slovenia, Croatia, Dalmatia, Bosnia, and Herzegovina through the port of Fiume hardly reached 13 per cent.; the remainder went to the ports of Lower Dalmatia, which were ample to serve the needs of the Jugoslavic hinterland. Admitting that she was not entitled to Fiume by the express terms of the Treaty of London, she yet claimed that the Russian defection placed on her heavier burdens than had been anticipated when that treaty was made, and that she was therefore entitled to additional compensation. Moreover, she asserted that she would be a stronger antiGermanic element there than would Jugoslavia.
It was understood that the Premiers of England and France inclined toward the Italian viewpoint, while President Wilson opposed it The latter created a profound sensation on April 23 by issuing a declaration that emphatically advocated the cession of Fiume to Jugoslavia. This created chagrin and resentment on the part of the Italian delegation, not because of the views expressed, with which they were familiar and which they had steadily combated, but because it was claimed to be diplomatically incorrect and to prejudice Italy's position in the eyes of the world. Premier Orlando made a reply on the following day in which he stated that President Wilson was treating the Italians as if they were a barbarous people and without a democratic government. On that afternoon, the Premier, accompanied by two of his colleagues, departed for Rome, first stating, however, that there had been no actual rupture with the conference. He was received in Italy with extraordinary demonstrations of popular approval. On April 29 the Italian Chamber of Deputies supported his stand by passing a vote of confidence in the Cabinet by 382 to 40, and a similar vote in the Senate on April 30 was unanimous. Later, the Premier and the other delegates returned to Paris, where earnest efforts were continued to reach a ground of compromise. Scarcely less bitter, though from a world view perhaps not so important, was the contention between China and Japan regarding Kiao-Chau and the Shantung Peninsula, which, territorially, are parts of the Chinese Republic. Kiao-Chau and important railroad and mining concessions on the peninsula were extorted by Germany from China by the treaty of 1897. Kiao-Chau was conquered in 1914, chiefly by the Japanese, though some British forces participated in the victory. Since that time the territory had been under Japanese control. In 1915 a treaty was made between Japan and China, whereby the latter practically agreed in advance to any arrangement that might be subsequently made by Japan with Germany regarding the territory in question. Japan at the same time promised China that she should eventually receive back KiaoChau, in return for certain important concessions to Japan. At the Peace Conference Japan claimed that what she took from Germany should remain hers by right of conquest, though she still maintained that at some unspecified date she would return Kiao-Chau to Chinese sovereignty. China contended that her entrance into the war against Germany even at a late date abrogated the treaty by which she conveyed Kiao-Chau to Germany in 1897, and that therefore the territory returned automatically to Chinese control. In addition, she claimed that Shantung was China's Holy Land, full of memories of Mencius and Confucius and hallowed as the cradle of her civilization, and asserted it was intolerable that it should remain under alien
domination. The principle of self-determination was appealed to by the Chinese delegates, and they announced that they had received orders from their Government not to sign the treaty unless their claims were admitted.
Other territorial problems, debated with less acrimony but with earnestness and persistence, were those of Danzig, indisputably German, yet quite as indisputably necessary to the future of the Polish State; the coal fields of Teschen, claimed by Poland and Czechoslovakia as within their respective boundaries; the Banat of Temesvar, coveted by Rumania and Serbia; and Syria, of which France wished to be the mandatary, while Prince Feisal insisted that it was an integral part of the new kingdom of Arabia.
The question of reparations was beset with difficulties from the start. The Allies were at one regarded the justice and desirability of making Germany pay to the limit of her power. It was felt that even then the allied world would remain impoverished. In some countries extravagant expectations had been formed of what could be secured from the vanquished foe. Both Clemenceau and Lloyd George had promised their respective nations that Germany would be compelled to pay the full cost of the war to the Allies. The English estimate of the total was $120,000,000,000, while the French figures went as high as $200,000,000,000. The work of the allied economic and financial commissions soon demonstrated that these estimates far outstripped Germany's ability to pay, and greater moderation became evident in the discussions.
Six categories were finally determined upon as a working basis for arriving at the total. These included reparation for actual damage to life and property, pensions for cripples and the families of slain soldiers, compensation for enforced labor exacted from inhabitants of occupied territories, including work done by deported Belgians, remuneration for illegally exacted labor of prisoners of war and payment for German requisitions in occupied territories.
LEAGUE OF NATIONS COVENANT
The League of Nations covenant, whose chief advocate had been President Wilson, reached final form and was adopted at the plenary session of the Peace Conference April 28. It differed from the original draft, which had incurred the opposition of a formidable body of public opinion. That opposition was manifested chiefly in the United States. Japan had pressed urgently for the adoption of an amendment declaring for racial equality, and Leon Bourgeois, as spokesman for France, had pleaded for a permanent international force to carry out the edicts of the League and prevent future German aggression. Both these requests were denied. Much more vigorous was the denunciation of some features of the League covenant in this country. It was claimed that the Monroe Doctrine should have received distinct recognition; that the League terms committted the United States in perpetuity to participation in every petty brawl anywhere in the world; that they involved the abdication of our sovereignty; that they would prevent our regulation of immigration; that they marked a departure from the Washingtonian doctrine of "no entangling alliances." A later objection, brought forward by Senator Reed of Missouri, was that under the constitution of the League the colored races of the world could outvote the white.
While these arguments were most strongly urged by political opponents of the President, they were supported also by important elements of the Democratic Party. The United States Senate was the storm centre of the opposition. Even before the President left the country on his second trip to France, Senator Lodge of Massachusetts had read into the record of the Senate a document, signed by thirty-nine Republican members of the incoming Senate, declaring that they would not ratify the League of Nations covenant in its existing form. Following the President's departure, a notable debate took place, participated in by Senators Knox, Lodge, Poindexter, Reed, Hitchcock, and others. On the platform and through the press, Elihu Root,
Charles E. Hughes, and ex-President Taft suggested amendments to the covenant.
That both hostile and friendly criticisms were duly weighed by the American delegates in Paris was shown by the final form of the covenant adopted in the plenary session of the Peace Conference April 28, 1919. It was argued by the League supporters that the Monroe Doctrine, which was mentioned by name, was safeguarded in an added article; the domestic questions, including immigration, were removed from the purview of the League. Provision was made for the withdrawal of any nation after two years' notice. Article X., however, by which nations entering the League mutually agreed to guarantee the territorial integrity and existing political independence of all members against external agression, was retained.
While these and other problems of great moment were taxing to the uttermost the wisdom and statesmanship of the Peace Conference, the world for which they were legislating was in a state of ferment. The armistice of Nov. 11, 1918, had by no means put an end to fighting. In May of 1919 no less than sixteen wars were being waged in various parts of Europe and Asia. Many of these scarcely attained a dignity of more than outpost skirmishes, but they indicated none the less the disturbed condition in which the great war had left the nations.
Although the Spartacan disturbances of February and March had been brought under some measure of control, chiefly through the iron firmness of Noske, Minister of Defense, communistic tendencies were everywhere apparent. The nerves of the people were exacerbated by defeat, privation, and the long waiting upon the decisions of the Peace Conference. The spirit of Liebknecht remained unquelled in the great majority of his followers, and only a leader was needed to bring about a cataclysm.
Leaders, however, of that type were lacking in Prussia, and the strikes and outbreaks that occurred were not allowed
to develop into a revolution. Bavaria, however, became a prey to a Communist uprising that was marked by wild excesses. The assassination of Kurt Eisner, the Premier of Bavaria, on Feb. 21 by Count Arco Valley and the serious wounding on the same day of Herr Auer, Minister of the Interior, had left behind it an aftermath of bitter feeling between the proletariat and the aristocratic and bourgeois elements. This found expression in a determined effort to overthrow the moderate Socialist Government of Premier Hoffmann, who had succeeded Eisner.
Day by day the attitude of the radicals became more threatening and their demands more insistent. An alliance was demanded with Russia. The nobility was abolished and rights of inheritance prohibited. The National German Government was notified that Bavaria would thenceforth furnish no troops on its demand.
A general exodus from Bavaria of the well-to-do classes set in. The socialization of the press was established. The Bolshevist tide rose higher and higher, until on the 7th of April the Munich Government was overthrown and a Communist Soviet took its place. The Premier was compelled to flee from the city and appeal to his supporters in other parts of Bavaria to arm against the Munich revolutionists. He gathered 5,000 troops with artillery and advanced upon the capital. He was defeated, however, by the Communist forces on April 19 at Dachau, and was forced to call upon the German National Government to intervene.
In the meantime, terrorism reigned in Munich. Banks were looted, houses pillaged, and hostages executed. The city was given over to murder and rapine. A triumvirate composed of Sontheimer, Levien, and Axelrod, the latter a Russian Bolshevik, gained absolute control and committed the bloodiest excesses. Desperate efforts were made to recruit an army which would be capable of meeting the Prussian forces, which, responding to the appeal of Hoffmann, were reported to be nearing the city.
On the 29th of April, Bavarian forces with 15,000 Prussians, well supplied with
artillery and airplanes, crossed the Danube on their way to Munich. A panic broke out in the city and the Communist leaders sought to escape, some of them by airplane. Offers on the part of the Communists to negotiate were rejected, and on the 2d of May the city was stormed by Government troops. Severe fighting followed, and the attackers had to make their way foot by foot against machine-gun bullets that poured upon them from windows, roofs, and church steeples. By the 4th, however, the Communists were finally overcome, with the loss of several hundred lulled and five thousand prisoners. The property damage to the city was estimated at $62,500,000. It was announced that as soon as order had been fully re-established the Government troops would be withdrawn.
The same chaotic conditions were reflected in the political situation. A quarrel broke out between Chancellor Scheidemann and General Ludendorff over the former's declaration that the latter had played the part of a reckless gambler in the closing months of the war. The charge was bitterly resented and an acrimonious exchange of correspondence took place, into which many notables were drawn on both sides.
On May 2 Field Marshal von Hindenburg tendered his resignation. In the Scheidemann Cabinet dissensions were frequent and the course of the Ebert Government in consequence was weak and vacillating. The only element of real strength that it contained was that furnished by Noske, Minister of Defense, whose administration of his office was uniformly firm and unwavering.
The municipal elections in Berlin showed a substantial gain by the Independent Socialists over the more moderate wing of the party. This was attributed to the resentment felt over the measures taken in crushing the Spartacan revolt.
One of the most important tasks 4ncumbent on the Government was the choosing of a delegation to the Peace Congress. It was thought at first that Count von Bernstorff, former Ambassador to the United States, who since the signing of the armistice had been a pow