Woodrow Wilson, Revolutionary Germany, and Peacemaking, 1918-1919: Missionary Diplomacy and the Realities of Power

By Klaus Schwabe; Rita Kimber et al. | Go to book overview

CHAPTER VI

Germany, the United States, and
the Struggle to Obtain Germany's
Signature on the Treaty of Versailles
(May—June 1919)

I. Germany's View of a "Wilsonian Peace" on the
Eve of the Versailles Conference

ONE

When the German government began to work out its peace program in the early weeks of 1919, it oriented its thinking to Wilson's Fourteen Points and never lost sight of them afterward. As we have seen, differences of opinion remained only on the tactical level: How much practical support could Germany expect from Wilson, and to what extent should Germany count on this support in its own peace planning?

During the critical major phase of the Paris conference, Germany would have had to have detailed information on the course of the Paris negotiations in order to answer these questions. The intelligence sources which Germany had at its disposal were not capable of performing this task, but from intercepted American press telegrams, from the occasional indiscretions of Allied newspapers, and from the reports of its agents, the German government was able to get some idea of what the territorial and economic terms would be which the victors were working out in the first two weeks of April.1 Germany was receiving extremely contradictory reports about the role which Wilson was playing in this critical phase of the conference. Some even predicted a separate peace between Germany and the United States; others claimed that Wilson had identified completely with the aims of the victorious European powers. 2

On March 28 (i.e., before the crucial point in the conference had been reached) Colonel Conger, who continued to be the source of information which the Germans were most inclined to take seriously, was predicting a peace which would be tolerable for the Ebert-Scheidemann government: Danzig would not be ceded to Poland; in the west, only the Saar district

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