Unbearably Harsh and Unjust

BERLIN/HAMBURG/MUNICH |

BERLIN/HAMBURG/MUNICH (Own report) - The German media has been criticizing the peace treaty, ending World War I, signed in Versailles June 28, 1919. Ratified by the victorious allied powers, the USA, Great Britain and France on the one side and defeated Germany, on the other, the treaty is alleged to have violated the "right of self-determination", barring, "in violation of international law", the "entry" desired by "millions of Austrians and Sudeten Germans" into the German Reich. At the same time, the treaty's terms, which were "humiliating" and "harsh" for the German side, had to inevitably lead to demands for revision, which is why "a second world war had to follow the first". With such statements, the German media is rendering support to the claims raised for years by the so-called "associations of expellees" against Germany's eastern neighbors, while delegating the political responsibility for the Nazi war of conquest, expropriation and extermination to the WW I Allies.

Humiliated

According to the latest edition of the German "Der Spiegel" news magazine, the Treaty of Versailles is why the "Second World War had to follow the first". France, in particular, "didn't miss a chance" to "publicly humiliate the Germans". The treaty is itself the outcome of military pressure exerted by the WW I Allies: "Allied Commander in Chief Ferdinand Foch, a Frenchman, had already planned the advance toward the Main River, seeking the political division of Germany into a northern and southern sector. The unity was at stake."[1]

Become Larger

The "Spiegel" then denounces the treaty itself, as a violation of international law, writing that the peace treaty was based on the principle of the "right of self-determination" announced by the US President at the time, Woodrow Wilson, and caused "huge expectations" in Germany. But because Wilson failed to "consequently apply his premise", these expectations were utterly frustrated. According to the "Spiegel", the German Reich would have had to become "larger rather than smaller" - because "millions of Austrians and Sudeten Germans wanted integration into the Weimar Republic."[2]

Without Identity

The German daily "Die Welt" takes a similar position and writes that the Versailles Treaty and the accompanying peace treaties rendered the "principle of the right of self-determination" ad absurdum. For example, the Treaty of St. Germain did "not bring happiness" to the Austrian Republic: "The majority of Austrians did not feel a separate identity."[3] The "annexation" imposed on Austria in 1938 by Nazi Germany, under the threat of military force, is presented as a necessity and politically opportune: "The Nazis were following a policy to revise WW I and won enormous sympathy among the German population," asserts the "Süddeutsche Zeitung" for example.[4]

Occupied Territory

With such statements, the German press is closely following the argumentation of the "associations of expellees", which have, for decades, raised claims against neighboring countries to the east, often criticizing the Treaty of Versailles. For example the organ of the "Homeland Association East Prussia," the "Preußische Allgemeine Zeitung", writes, "contrary to the right of self-determination, Germans in Austria and in the German Reich were denied unification."[5] The arguments of "Sudeten German" organizations are very similar. In a current exhibition of the "Sudeten German Homeland Association" one can read for example that the "lands of the Sudeten" had been "occupied" after WW I and had "never belonged legally to the CSR." This is why the September 1938 Munich dictate, in which Nazi Germany annexed large parts of Czechoslovakia under the threat of military force, should be seen as being in accordance with international law (german-foreign-policy.com reported [6]). Still today, the Federal Republic of Germany has refused to officially declare that the Munich dictate was "null and void" from the outset.

Attack on German Life

The media's discussion of the Treaty of Versailles is opening the possibility for the German extreme right to link this discussion to the propaganda of the Nazis. The peace treaty facilitated the "general attack, directed by Prague and Warsaw, on German life in the abandoned regions" and permitted "the arbitrary military assault on German state territory by Germany's opponents," writes the nationalist conservative "Junge Freiheit".[7] This journal exceeds the statements of other press organs, making WW II appear not only as a logical consequence of the peaceful order laid down in Versailles but even as a legitimate war of self-defense.

Unfeasible

Though the German Left does not share those standpoints, yet it obviously seems that some of them are considered common knowledge. The "Neues Deutschland" the daily newspaper close to the "THE LEFT" party, writes of the "harsh cessions of territory" and "high reparations" imposed on the Germans by the Treaty of Versailles. This "socialist daily" therefore calls the treaty "unfeasible".[8]

[1], [2] Klaus Wiegrefe: Der Unfriede von Versailles; Der Spiegel 06.07.2009
[3] Sven Felix Kellerhoff: Ein nur gut gemeinter Frieden; Die Welt 26.06.2009
[4] Gerd Krumeich: "Deutschland hat durch den Krieg seine Leidenschaft für die Tyrannei befriedigen wollen."; Süddeutsche Zeitung 27.06.2009
[5] Manuel Ruoff: Diktat statt Verständigung; Preußische Allgemeine Zeitung 27.06.2009
[6] see also An Educational Venue
[7] Stefan Scheil: Versailles als Beispiel: Deutschlands Elitenversagen; Junge Freiheit 19.06.2009
[8] Erwin Könnemann: Das Diktat von Versailles... und wie das Völkergemetzel 1919 beendet wurde; Neues Deutschland 27.06.2009