[The Treaty of Versailles: A Reassessment after 75 Years]

Article excerpt

THE TREATY OF VERSAILLES

A reassessment after 75 years

Edited by Manfred F. Boemeke, Gerald D.Feldman, Elisabeth Glaser Washington and Cambridge: German Historical Institute and University of Cambridge Press, 1998, 656pp, US$90.00, ISBN 0521621321

John Maynard Keynes set the pattern in his coruscating and deeply unfair attack on the Treaty of Versailles. His picture of a vengeful France, a careless Britain, and a naive United States was taken up eagerly at the time in Germany, for obvious reasons, and among liberals in the Anglo-Saxon countries. The treaty remains a byword for vindictiveness, folly, and short-sightedness, which led, so most people still believe, to the Second World War. This collection of essays, which reflects the work of leading historians, revisionist history at its best, challenges that view. Historians and economists have been working away modifying many of the key charges but until now their work has been in specialist journals or monographs and has had little wider impact. The burden of reparations, about which German governments in the 1920s complained so loudly, was, as Sally Marks, Niall Ferguson, and others argue here, never as heavy as everyone believed. …