June 28th, 1919. The Treaty of Versailles is signed in what is now a suburb of Paris.
I completely and wholeheartedly agree with those historians who consider the Treaty of Versailles the worst and the most gargantuan blunder in human history. Not just in modern history – but in the whole human history.
Never ever before in human history the gap between what could (and should) have been done and what has actually been done was so enormous (gargantuan even) – and catastrophic.
The Treaty of Versailles could (and should) have prevented the Second World War – but didn’t. Worse than that, it assembled placed and set the time bombs that in just 20 years triggered the most murderous and destructive military conflicts in human history.
The war killed up to 85 million people – possibly even more, which constituted over 3% of the estimated world population in 1939. And caused enormous, colossal destruction of civilian infrastructure in Europe, North Africa and the Middle East.
All these horrors could (and should) have been prevented in Versailles in 1919. But were not – thanks to unbelievable, enormous, colossal stupidity (idiocy even) of the leaders of the “principal Allied powers”.
The Treaty of Versailles could (and should) have prevented the establishment of totalitarian, criminal and murderous regimes – Communism, Nazism and fascism. These regimes killed an estimated 120 million people. All these deaths could have been prevented in Versailles – but were not.
After World War II, West European and North American nations established a solid and highly efficient security and war prevention system in Europe. This system could (and should) have been established in Versailles in 1919 – but wasn’t.
All Allied leaders acted like complete idiots and morons – especially Woodrow Wilson, absolutely the worst and the most destructive president in the history of the United States. He committed not one, but two blunders – entering the Great War on the Allied side and subsequently signing the Treaty of Versailles.
The totally moronic vision for the future of Europe implemented in this treaty rested on the following four cornerstones: (1) radically weakening Germany; (2) creating a bunch of small European states on the territories taken from Germany and Austro-Hungarian Empire at gunpoint; (3) making France the dominant power in continental Europe; and (4) completely ignoring the Bolshevist Russia – apparently considered way too weak to play an important role in Europe.
The reality turned out to be radically different (hence the idiocy of the vision presented above). Soviet Russia turned out to be not just the biggest problem for Europe, but the existential threat for the whole Western civilization.
France had neither the desire nor the ability to be the dominant power in continental Europe (let alone the “European sheriff”). And Britain very quickly came back to its senses, recognizing that it needed a “healthy rivalry” between Germany and France (roughly equally powerful nations on the continent). And so did the United States.
Worse, France, Britain and the United States had to acknowledge and accept that the only power capable of protecting Europe from the “Bolshevist hordes” was a powerful Germany (actually, a European political, economic and military superpower) led by ruthless – and highly capable – Nazis. The Nazis who (unfortunately for “all of the above”) wanted the German territories back…
Actually, the disastrous failure of the Treaty of Versailles (the worst such failure in human history) was not surprising at all. The Treaty was built on two fundamental lies – the lie that Germany was responsible for the outbreak of the Great War (in reality, the war was triggered by Russia and Serbia) and the broken promise (i.e. another lie) that if Germany surrendered, it would have been treated fairly, leniently and respectable by its victorious opponents (it wasn’t).
Even worse, Germany was forced to sign this murderous, unfair and humiliating treaty at gunpoint – under threat of continuing Blockade of Germany and the resulting Great Hunger. Which predictably led to Hitler’s commitment to securing the Lebensraum in the East – and thus to colonial wars with Poland and the Soviet Union.
Not surprisingly, the shock (and quite a shock it was) of the Treaty of Versailles made a critical contribution to the Transfiguration of Adolf Hitler. Transfiguration which most likely happened sometime during the first week of July of 1919.