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von Brockdorff-Rantzau, head of the first German peace delegation, had displayed when handed the treaty early in May. There was heard just the beginning of a murmur when the Germans appeared, but it was so quickly hushed as to recall an incident in the battle of Santiago, when Captain Philip of the Texas restrained his men from cheering because the Spaniards were dying, only the words seemed now to be, "Don't cheer, boys; they're signing.” The actual ceremony was far shorter than had been expected, in view of the number of signatures that were to be appended to the treaty, ending as it did a bare forty-nine minutes after the hour set for the opening. Clémenceau, as President of the Conference, had risen and said:
“The session is open. The Allied and Associated Powers on one side and the German reich on the other side have come to an agreement on the conditions of peace. The text has been completed, drafted, and the President of the Conference has stated in writing that the text that is about to be signed now identical with the 200 copies that have been delivered to the German delegation. The signatures will be given now, and they amount to a solemn undertaking faithfully and loyally to execute the conditions embodied by this treaty of peace. I now request the delegates of the German reich to sign the treaty."
Dr. Herman Müller and Johannes Bell, the German signatories, first affixt their names. President Wilson, first of the Allied delegates, signed a minute later, and then the others. The ceremony ended so quickly and quietly that it was scarcely realized that it could be over when Clémenceau rose unremarked, and in a voice almost lost amid the confusion and hum of conversation, declared the conference closed, and asked the Allied and Associated Delegates to remain in their places for a few minutes—the purpose being to permit the German plenipotentiaries first to leave the building before a general exodus began. No one rose as the Germans filed out, accompanied by their secretaries and interpreters, just as all the plenipotentiaries had kept their seats when Dr. Müller and Dr. Bell entered the hall. This was regarded as an answer to the action of Count von Brockdorff-Rantzau at the first meeting with the Entente at the Conference, in reading his speech while seated and making no excuses for doing so, but even more it was assumed to have been inspired by the German attitude toward acceptance of the peace and by the violation of its terms in the sinking of the ships at Scapa Flow and burning the French flags in Berlin. The stillest three minutes ever lived through were those in which the German delegates signed the treaty.
The most dramatic moment of the day at Versailles came unexpectedly and spontaneously at the conclusion of the ceremony, when Clémenceau, Wilson, and Lloyd George descended from the Hall of Mirrors to the terrace at the rear of the palace, where were massed thousands of spectators. A most remarkable demonstration ensued. With cries of “Vive Clémenceau !” “Vive Wilson!” “Vive Lloyd George!" dense crowds of struggling and cheering masses surrounded the three men from all parts of the spacious enclosure. These, the three most eminent civilians of the war period, were literally caught in the living stream which flowed across that great space, until they became themselves hardly more than parts of it. Soldiers and bodyguards struggled vainly to clear a way for them. People jostled and pushed, all the while cheering madly, while the great fountains played. Probably the least concerned for their personal safety were the three men. They went forward smilingly, as the crowd willed, bowing in response to the ovation, and here and there reaching out to shake an insistent hand as they passed on their way to the fountains. No more picturesque setting could have been selected for the formal end of the great five-year drama. The return of the three men to the palace became a repetition of their outward journey."
Some of the Berlin papers of the next day, in announcing the signing of the treaty, appeared in black borders, with captions such as “Germany's Fate Sealed,” “Peace and Annihilation.” The Tageszeitung, in closing an editorial article, said: "Clémenceau, Lloyd George, and Wilson and their accessories have sown dragons' teeth of eternal enmity.” The whole German press wrote in a strain of melancholy pessimism. Evangelical churches arranged to observe Sunday, July 6, as a day of mourning when church bells were to sound a hymn of mourning.
On July 9th, by a vote of 208 to 115, the German National Assembly ratified the Treaty, 99 deputies abstaining from voting. Germany thus became the first Power to ratify it. Argentina, however, by a unanimous vote in her Senate on July 6th, had been the first nation to enter the League. Not having been a belligerent in the war—altho she had severed relations with Germany and had seized German ships-Argentina could not sign the Peace Treaty itself. Germans who had been near the guns of the Allied armies on the Rhine had been anxious enough to see the Treaty signed and ratified, but in other parts of Germany many were still unable to understand that Germany had been defeated; they still needed some tangiblé demonstration that they had failed in what they tried to do. It was hard for them to understand what had happened, with their territory still undamaged, while parts of France, Serbia and Poland had been converted into barren deserts. It was not yet certain to such minds that Germany had actually lost the war. Nor could they understand why they were short of food, much less why they failed to command the world's respect and sympathy. The Tageblatt of Berlin exprest a German view when it said of the Treaty: “Despite the fact that it was written on parchment, it remains a scrap of paper.” There were, however, men in Germany who knew the real truth as to the war, and a few who acknowledged it, but it promised to be a long time before the whole German people realized that their nation had been treated with some magnanimity and lenity—that the terms imposed upon them were mild and conciliatory, compared with what Germany would have imposed on the Entente had she as unmistakably won the war.
y Associated Press dispatches.
After all the impatience which the public in most countries had shown over the time taken by the Peace Conference for its work, it was interesting to recall now that the Conference did not formally begin its work until January 18, but that, in spite of the enormous bulk of the treaty as finally submitted, and the multiplicity of its detail, the gigantic task had been accomplished by May 7, that is, in about fifteen weeks, and that seven weeks later the Germans had signed the great document.
The signing of the German treaty was in itself one of the most impressive events in human history; moreover, the document was unique, not only in the manner of its negotiation, the volume of its contents, and the extent of its application, but in its character and purposes. It was not an agreement for the bondage of any nation, but one for the freedom of all nations. It had not been worked out in secrecy, or in what had been regarded as "confidence,” but had been made in the open light, with freedom of discussion, and practically complete publicity during the whole process. Another unexampled incident of that June day was the brevity and simplicity of the sitting at which the signatures were attached in solemn and impressive silence, and the instant publicity that was given to the signing, accompanied in this country by a message from President Wilson to his “fellow countrymen,” received nearly four hours before the sun's rays could make a journey from Paris to Washington.10
10 The Journal of Commerce (New York).
THE SETTLEMENT WITH AUSTRIA, TURKEY, AND
May 14, 1919—May 27, 1920
HE Austrian peace delegation arrived at St. Germain-en-Laye
on May 14. The delegation was headed by Karl Renner, the Chancellor, who appeared in the doorway of the railway-car at St. Germain hat in hand, with a contagious smile that put the French reception committee quickly at its ease. He was a plump, roundfaced man with a black beard and a bald head, eyes shining brightly behind a pair of gold-rimmed spectacles. A notable feature of the reception was the absence of the Germans from Versailles. They had requested permission to greet the Austrians, but received a refusal. The Austrian delegates were taken under military escort to villas overlooking the valley of the Seine, but lacking the high fences and the sentries who were so much in evidence in Versailles.
The ceremony of presenting the peace terms to the Austrian delegates took place in the ancient château, once a castle of kings, now a natural history museum, where children of French workmen may roam at will, gazing at prehistoric stone implements, stuffed birds and pictures of extinct animals. Altho the hall used was the one devoted to specimens of the cave-man age, the tone of the whole meeting was modern. The time set for it was noon. President Wilson arrived fifteen minutes late, having come over from Paris by the long road through Versailles to avoid the rush of traffic on the more direct route from Paris to St. Germain. On the way his automobile had had a blowout, and so he had set the dignitaries wondering what was keeping him. The most punctiliously punctual of men had kept waiting an assemblage of high plenipotentiaries from the Entente Powers. While the waiting went on, Paderewski was seen tearing a card into fine bits; Balfour was counting the great oak rafters of the ceiling; Venizelos was gazing at a map of France dotted with red squares showing the location of prehistoric places in the battle zone of France, in which cave-men had dwelt; Orlando was busy writing; the Serbian, Jugo-Slavic and the Czecho-Slovakian plenipotentiaries seemed fascinated like children in watching the scene and reflecting that in a few minutes their former masters, now the beaten Austrians, would be coming in to learn their tragic fate. Dr. Renner led his colleagues into the room and took the middle chair. All the Allied delegates, at a signal from Clémenceau, stood in recognition of their presence. Then the French Premier, addressing them as representatives of the “Austrian Republic,” spoke for not more than two minutes. 11 Dr. Renner delivered his response in French, and emphasized in the beginning that he and his colleagues represented a republic; that the ancient Hapsburg monarchy had ceased to exist on November 1, 1918; that from its ruins new .nations had come, one of which he represented. “We are before you," he said, "as one of the parts of the vanquished empire."
Austria, by the treaty, was required to recognize the independence of Hungary, Czecho-Slovakia, and the Serbo-CroateSlovene State, besides ceding other territories which, previously in union with her, composed the dual monarchy of Austria-Hungary with its population of more than 50,000,000. Austria agreed to accept the League of Nations covenant and the labor charter, to renounce all her extra-European rights, demobilize her naval and aerial forces, admit the right of trial by the Allied and Associated Powers of her nationals guilty of violating the laws and customs of war, and accept certain detailed provisions similar to those of the German treaty as to economic relations and freedom of transit.
Few events in history have had the dramatic significance of that scene at St. Germain. The Austrian delegates had come as representatives, not of a great power famous in history, but as one of the smallest of nations. When Dr. Karl Renner stood in that assembly, he spoke on behalf of only seven million people addressing the representatives of several hundred million; and among the people to whose mercy he appealed were the Serbians. Thus began the last act of the play on which the curtain had risen five years before, when the name Austria was commonly used to designate one of the most powerful and most arrogant empires in the world. It was Austria that found in the murder of the heir to her throne a pretext to crush her small neighbor Serbia; and, as if to increase the terror which her aggression had produced, she brought to bear upon those who would oppose her the military might of a powerful neighbor, the German Empire. Like many another criminal, she had become the dupe of her own intrigue.
There was something in Austria, however, that saved her from the opprobrium and contempt from which Germany suffered. There was something in her delegates of suavity and humaneness, which had always distinguished Austrians from their northern German cousins, and had made them, even when arrogant and intriguing, likable. Austria had played the part of bandit more than once, but she had
11 Paris dispatch from Charles A. Seldon to The Times (New York).