Innocent Abroad: Belgium at the Paris Peace Conference of 1919

By Sally Marks | Go to book overview

SIX
THE SEARCH FOR SECURITY

AT THE PEACE CONFERENCE

The struggle to revise the 1839 treaties was even more protracted than that over Luxemburg and, from the Belgian point of view, even more unsatisfactory in its eventual outcome. When the peace conference opened, Belgium had gained the formal assent of Britain, France, and the United States to the suppression of compulsory neutrality and had served notice that she wished wholesale treaty revision but had not achieved any definite commitment on this latter point. Accordingly, the Belgian delegation addressed the question at once. Its lengthy memorandum to the powers on 17 January 1919 constituted a formal request for full revision of the 1839 treaties.

This memorandum made the Belgian concerns clear. In addition to the veiled hope of territorial transfer from Holland, which of itself would resolve some of the most acute problems, the Belgian claims focused primarily upon suppression of compulsory neutrality, permission to use Antwerp as a naval base, revision of the regime of the Scheldt and the Ghent-Terneuzen canal, and solution of the defensive problem of the Limburg gap. With an eye to future bargaining, some claims were expressed in maximum form, such as a request for sovereignty on the Scheldt and for transit rights by rail and canal across lower Limburg. The memorandum closed with a note on procedure urging that, after Anglo-French-Belgian agreement on principles and on compensation to be offered to Holland, the three powers should invite the Dutch to a conference for treaty revision. The four states should settle the terms of the new treaties, impose them on Germany and Austria, and inform Russia of what had been done.1 This procedural approach

____________________
1
D. H. Miller, Diary, 4:436-67.

-255-

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Innocent Abroad: Belgium at the Paris Peace Conference of 1919
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Preface ix
  • Abbreviations xvi
  • One - PRELUDE 5
  • THE BATTLE OF THE SEINE 103
  • Two - SEEKING A VOICE 105
  • Three - THE ANNEXATIONIST ATTEMPT 137
  • Four - THE STRUGGLE FOR REPARATIONS 170
  • Five - THE QUEST FOR LUXEMBURG 206
  • Six - THE SEARCH FOR SECURITY 255
  • Seven - THE SECONDARY SKIRMISHES 307
  • Eight - POSTLUDE 339
  • Index 445
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