The Paris Peace Conference, 1919: Peace without Victory?

The Paris Peace Conference, 1919: Peace without Victory?

The Paris Peace Conference, 1919: Peace without Victory?

The Paris Peace Conference, 1919: Peace without Victory?


The essays in this volume, written by leading historians and a former British foreign secretary, survey the strategy, politics and personalities of British peacemaking in 1919. Many of the intractable problems faced by negotiators are studied in this volume. Neglected issues, including nascent British commercial interests in Central Europe and attitudes towards Russia are covered, along with important reassessments of the viability of the Versailles treaty, reparations, appeasement, and the long-term effects of the settlement. This collection is a compelling and resonant addition to revisionist studies of the "Peace to End Peace" and essential reading for those interested in international history.


It is good news that the papers for the Public Record Office Conference on the Treaty of Versailles are being brought before a wider public. It was highly stimulating to go to this Conference at Kew in 1999 at which the papers were read.

As a former politician and diplomat I had long held a certain view of the Treaty, which owed much to the criticisms at the time of Keynes and Harold Nicolson. Now we can see that the work of later historians produces a fuller and rather less damning account. Certainly mistakes were made, as they have been made by other peacemakers since, but we can better understand the reasons for those mistakes. As a result we may be less scornful of those concerned in international diplomacy.

In the hectic months of peacemaking in 1919 the tension between idealism and reality came to a climax, but neither prevailed. Those of us who in a smaller way have experience of that same tension in lesser conflicts, know that at the end of the day if there is to be peace there has to be a compromise between what morality suggests and what reality dictates. The Treaty of Versailles contained a great array of compromises, some with a longer life than others. The importance of the subject amply repays the energetic scholarship here devoted to it.


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