U.S. Secretary of State Robert Lansing now declared “the Versailles treaty menaces the existence of civilization.” Various other parties condemned the Versailles Treaty. Pope Benedict XV condemned it for “the lack of an elevated sense of justice, the absence of dignity, morality or Christian nobility” and Pope Pius XI, in his 1922 encyclical “Ubi arcam Dei” called it an artificial peace “which instead of arousing noble sentiments increases and legitimizes the spirit of vengeance and rancour.”
Four empires disappeared after Versailles: the German, Austro-Hungarian, Ottoman and the Russian, and in their place were the newly-hatched and insecure states of Rumania, Czechoslovakia, Poland and Yugoslavia whereupon the seeds to future conflict would be planted. Four defunct dynasties, the Hohenzollerns, the Habsburg, Romanovs and the Ottomans together with their ancillary aristocracies all fell after the war. The Saxon House of Wettin, which had lasted longer than every other German dynasty and had been in power for 829 years, the longest a European house had ever ruled a land, ended with the abdication of the good-hearted King Friedrich lll of Saxony on November 13, 1918 following the defeat of Germany in World War One. The British monarchy was still merrily in place.
The Versailles settlement was negotiated without permitting Germany to be involved (Diktat) and under naval blockade and threat of invasion. Germany lost 74.5% loss of her natural resources and 100% of her colonies under the pretext of providing national self-determination. She lost about 13% of her territory and 10% of her population: 7 million of her people had to be thereby forsaken, including three million Germans in the Sudetenland alone. This constituted a traumatic and confusing situation for ethnic German minorities in these new states. Overnight, they became second class citizens in homelands they had inhabited for generations, and in some cases centuries. Millions of ethnic Germans were victimized, harassed, outrageously taxed and deprived of their civil rights. German property was confiscated by the new nationalistic governments without compensation. To add further punishment, Germany was forbidden to enter into any union with Austria, adding more severe hardship to both and destructively breaking their historical cultural bond.
The shortsightedness of the “peace” terms would have horrible effects. The most significant event triggered by the events at Sarajevo was not the war, with its blatantly financial impetus, but the virulent rise of Communism, which was directly and indirectly abetted by the victors in their quest to weaken German and Austrian power for the monetary gain and dominance of a few. In Wilson’s War Message back in 1917, he paid tribute to the Communists in Russia: “Assurance has been added to our hope for the future peace of the world by the wonderful and heartening things that have been happening in the last few weeks in Russia. Here is a fit partner for a League of Honor.” (Public Papers of Woodrow Wilson). When it appeared that the Communist Revolution was in trouble, Wilson had sent his personal emissary, Elihu Root, to Russia with one hundred million dollars from his Special Emergency War Fund to save the toppling Bolshevik regime.
Germany received no compensation for the vast government possessions it lost (estates, forests, railway tracks, etc.). The Allies proceeded to even confiscate not only public but private German property all over the world in contrast to all precedent from previous wars when private property had been held in escrow until ratification of peace treaties, at which time it would revert to its legitimate owners. Railroads, roads, river crossings, long-distance cables, natural resources and agricultural lands were all taken gobbled up among the victors, either kept for themselves or given out to the antagonistic and nationalistic little nations they had created. After all of the back breaking labor and a small fortune in money and human lives, the Germans were forced to sign off of any rights to the Berlin-Baghdad Railway, which was one of the original bones of contention.
Germany was forbidden from investing capital in neighboring countries and made to forfeit all rights “to whatever title it may possess in these countries,” and while the Allies were given free access to the German marketplace without even the smallest tariff, products made in Germany faced high foreign tariff barriers. Versailles decreed that Germany “undertakes to give the Allies and their associates the status of most favored nations for five years” while Germany had no such equal status. Immediately following the war, Germany was rocked by insurgencies as the Bolsheviks and their communist agents attempted a takeover similar to the revolution in Russia. The Allies, meeting in Versailles, expressed delight at this fact.
Not content with merely bringing Germany to its knees and picking away at her like vultures, the victors went one better: The sinister British blockade which had already starved thousands upon thousands of German civilians continued even after Germany signed an armistice in 1918, party at the insistence of France, but mostly by young Winston Churchill’s demands. In his March 3, 1919 speech to the British House of Commons, Churchill flatly stated: “We are holding all our means of coercion in full operation...we are enforcing the blockade with vigour. Germany is very near starvation. The evidence I have received shows the great danger of a collapse of the entire structure of German social and national life, under the pressure of hunger and malnutrition.” Aware of this gravely inhumane situation, the Royal Navy went so far as to send warships into the Baltic to stop German fishing boats from catching sardines which provided necessary protein for their hungry infants and children. Germany’s best farmlands, which would have been her salvation, had been severed from her and given away to the newly created Poland.
Things were very bleak in Germany after the war ended, with unemployment between 20 and 40 per cent. Humanitarian conditions within Germany had already desperately deteriorated because of England’s merciless hunger blockade throughout the war which is said to have eventually caused the deaths of a million Germans. Under the long, destructive blockade, the food supply declined until the diet in Germany was reduced initially to bread and potatoes, and then, with a failed potato crop in 1916, to turnips as the principal staple. 88, 232 Germans starved to death in 1915 and 121,114 in 1916. Only the very young, invalids, expectant mothers and the elderly were permitted milk. The blockade had also created scarcities in raw materials that were vital to German civilian survival such as heating coal and fertilizer supplies vital to agriculture.
Yet this sinister blockade continued for seven months after Germany signed an armistice in 1918!The British blockade which continued to starve innocent people received little or no criticism from others. John Maynard Keynes quoted an observer who accompanied Herbert Hoover’s mission to help the starving Germans: “Those you might believe are small children are children of seven and eight years: Tiny faces, with large, dull eyes, overshadowed by huge puffed, rickety foreheads, their small arms just skin and bones, and above the crooked legs with their dislocated joints the swollen, pointed stomachs of the hunger edema....” The death rate of children between the ages of 1 and 5 years rose by 50 per cent and among children from 5 to 15 years by 55 per cent.
The German population plummeted sharply, causing a situation which to this day the mainstream media discounts or minimizes. Cases of tuberculosis, rickets, influenza, dysentery, scurvy and hunger edema became common. As Germany experienced near-famine conditions, Thomas Lamont, an American representative at Versailles, recorded the Allies callous decision to confiscate a substantial part of what was left of Germany’s livestock: “The Germans were made to deliver cattle, horses, sheep, goats, etc., and a strong protest came from Germany when dairy cows were taken to France and Belgium, thus depriving German children of milk.” Germany was forced to deliver not only large numbers of livestock, but coal to France, Belgium and Italy, while they themselves were left to freeze for lack of fuel for heat.
When, on May 7, 1919, Count von Brockdorf-Rantzau addressed the Versailles assembly, over two months before the blockade was finally terminated on July 12, 1919 (seven months after armistice): “The hundreds of thousands of non-combatants who have perished since November 11, 1918 as a result of the blockade, were killed with cold deliberation, after our enemies had been assured of their complete victory.” The ongoing hunger blockade was by far the greatest atrocity of the war, killing thousands of German civilians unnecessarily. It also fragmented any hopes for recovery. Germany, like the victors, was in a state of post-war shock and mourning, and then made to suffer further by the enormous and unrecoverable economic losses through the dictates of Versailles.
The USA gained nothing from its contribution the European war but loss and sorrow. Now, as Germans ate crows, zoo animals and rodents after the war, shunned by the international community, things grew more perilous for them and the cost of the war absolutely destroyed their present and future economy. The glorious German Empire was murdered in its youth, its people starved and humiliated, yet the poisonous anti-German hate propaganda continued to be pumped out to justify the greed and vindictiveness of the actions of the European victors and to rationalize America’s unwise and unnecessary involvement, which many would shortly question. In fact, there were soon government inquiries and accusations that the US had been duped into war by British Propaganda.