“It is worse than a crime – it is a blunder!” This is how Antoine Boulay, count de la Meurthe – a prominent French politician (he presided over commissions that wrote the French Constitution and the Napoleonic Civil Code) reacted to the execution (on Napoleon’s orders) of Louis Antoine de Bourbon, Duke of Enghien. It was a colossal blunder indeed, because it turned just about all European royalty against Napoleon which ultimately led to his defeat and exile.
The same conclusion applies (one hundred percent) to another event that took place on French territory a century later – the infamous and ultimately disastrous Treaty of Versailles.
The Treaty was signed on 28 June 1919 in Versailles, exactly five years after the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand which directly led to World War I and formally ended the Great War.
It was a monumental blunder indeed. Instead of preventing the global war from ever happening again (which was the original intent), in just twenty years it ignited the Second World War – far more murderous and disastrous than the first one.
And essentially brought Nazis to power in Germany which resulted in commission of massive and horrible war crimes against humanity (not just Holocaust). True, the Nazis bear the primary responsibility for these horrendous crimes, but the nations that forced Germany at gunpoint (literally) to sign this essentially criminal treaty (it was the armed robbery and extortion of gigantic proportions) share this responsibility with the Third Reich (and personally with Adolf Hitler).
These are the nations, whose leaders are guilty of this monumental blunder and thus of bringing Adolf Hitler to power and igniting the Second Great War: Great Britain, France, the United States and (believe it or not) Japan (the latter fought on the side of Allied Powers during World War I).
Like the (in)famous Nuremberg trial three decades later, the Treaty of Versailles was a noble idea thoroughly corrupted and perverted by politics. Mostly stupid and shortsighted politics driven by greed, pride and fear – the deadly sins. Which very soon became deadly in a very literal sense.
Obviously, the peace treaty to end the Great War should have been signed – no doubt about that. However, to achieve its fundamental objective – prevent the next Great War – the whole thing should have been done very differently.
The cold hard historical fact was that although in every major European country there were enough hotheads who wanted the Great War to happen, the actual outbreak of war was a joint venture between Serbia, Russia and France (roughly in that order). With a tacit support of Great Britain.
Obviously, the public recognition of this uncomfortable fact was politically impossible and, consequently, was out of the question. It was, however, possible to tacitly put the blame squarely on just one nation – Russian Empire (now the newly-minted Soviet Russia).
The victorious Allies (Great Britain, France, Italy and the United States) should have identified and recognized the real threat that could (and would) ignite the Second World War – the Bolshevist regime in Russia obsessed with the idea of conquering the whole world and transforming it into a global Communist state. The real existential threat to the whole Western civilization (in fact, to the whole human civilization).
Consequently, the Treaty of Versailles should have not only formally put an end to the Great War, but also created a Holy Alliance – to save Europe and the whole European civilization from being invaded, conquered, destroyed and replaced with the global Bolshevist civilization.
And thus should have been signed not only by Germany, Austria, Hungary and the abovementioned four nations, but also by Poland, Finland, Czechoslovakia, Belgium, the Netherlands, the Baltic nations, etc. thus making it an expanded version of the North Atlantic Treaty signed three decades later.
True, the actual treaty created something of that nature – the League of Nations (which consisted of the Council of the great powers and an Assembly of all the member countries), but it did not have any real political (let alone military) power and thus was unable to prevent World War II.
Obviously, Germany would have had to cede Alsace-Lorraine to France (otherwise France would have never have signed the treaty) and the Treaty would have had to recognize the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian Empire (including the newly-created Czechoslovakia and Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes which ten years later will become Yugoslavia).
And that’s it. No reparations, no transfer of German territories to other states, no restrictions on German sovereign rights. And, last but not the least, the blockade of Germany should have been ended for good the very next day after the Armistice.
Faced with the united front of all European powers backed by the United States, Canada, Japan and vast British and French colonial empires, Bolsheviks would have had no choice but to abandon their dreams of conquering the world. Which – due to their complete and utter inability to even feed their citizens properly – would have led to their quick and possibly even bloodless demise.
Unfortunately, it did not happen that way. The real Treaty of Versailles was something entirely different. Instead of becoming a noble event that would have put an end to global wars for good, it turned out to be a crime of genuinely global proportions. A brutal robbery at gunpoint and a ruthless, even sadistic extortion.
Which was incredibly, unbelievably, enormously stupid thing to do.