Fontainebleu memorandum

Discussion in 'Military History and Militaria' started by mbwest, Feb 14, 2006.

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  1. Hey,

    I've got a documentary analysis (eg. say what is is, what it is talking about and how valuable the document is) on Prime Minister Lloyd George's famous Fontainebleu memorandum 25 March 1919.

    I know a good bit about it but I just thought I'd post this on here and if anyone has the time they could add anything they know about it or any good web-sites or books on thesubject that I can read.

    Any help would be great.

    cheers in advance!
  2. Google gives about 29,000 returns. Maybe something there?
  3. Ummm, I bloody hate to show my ignorance, but here goes.
    Happy with Lloyd George. But.... Famous? Fontainbleau? Memo?
    Give us a link, you have my curiosity aroused already.
  4. mbwest and staaken may get better returns if they search for "Fontainebleau"
  5. yes I noticed Google corrected the spelling of "Fontainbleau" to "Fontainebleau" but that was how it was down on my sheet.

    Fontainebleau memorandum: Memorandum written by the British prime minister David Lloyd George during the Paris peace conference on 25 March 1919, in which he argued in vain for a more lenient post-war settlement with Germany.

    I have had a good look on Google but there isn't too much on it, as i said it is an analysis of the document, so i need to explain references in the text, eg. who are the spartacists? and also need to asses it's value and the impact of the document.

    I've copied the text below for you to look at.
    Basically i'm not asking for you to write my essay, just maybe some dialogue on how you see it or if you know much about the document, what sort of impact did it make. Is it useful etc. etc. (note. the numbers next to each line are simply the line numbers, in fact if you did't figure that out on your own it is probably not worth you reading it ;)

    Thanks in advance ;)

    Document C

    When nations are exhausted by wars in which they have put forth all their strength and which leave 1
    them tired, bleeding and broken, it is not difficult to patch up a peace that may last until the 2
    generation which experienced the horrors of the war has passed away. Pictures of heroism and 3
    triumph only tempt those who know nothing of the sufferings and terrors of war. It is therefore 4
    comparatively easy to patch up a peace which will last for 30 years. 5
    What is difficult, however, is to draw up a peace which will not provoke a fresh struggle when those 6
    who have had practical experience of what war means have passed away. History has proved that 7
    a peace, which has been hailed by a victorious nation as a triumph of diplomatic skill and 8
    statesmanship, even of moderation in the long run, has proved itself to be short-sighted and charged 9
    with danger to the victor ... 10
    ... You may strip Germany of her colonies, reduce her armaments to a mere police force and her 11
    navy to that of a fifth-rate power; all the same in the end if she feels that she has been unjustly 12
    treated in the peace of 1919 she will find means of exacting retribution from her conquerors. The 13
    impression, the deep impression, made upon the human heart by four years of unexampled slaughter 14
    will disappear with the hearts upon which it has been marked by the terrible sword of the great 15
    war. The maintenance of peace will then depend upon there being no causes of exasperation 16
    constantly stirring up the spirit of patriotism, of justice or of fair play. To achieve redress our terms 17
    may be severe, they may be stern and even ruthless, but at the same time they can be so just that 18
    the country on which they are imposed will feel in its heart that it has no right to complain. But 19
    injustice, arrogance, displayed in the hour of triumph, will never be forgotten or forgiven. 20
    For these reasons I am, therefore, strongly averse to transferring more Germans from German rule 21
    to the rule of some other nation than can possibly be helped. I cannot conceive any greater cause of 22
    future war than that the German people, who have certainly proved themselves one of the most 23
    vigorous and powerful races in the world, should be surrounded by number of small states, many of 24
    them consisting of people who have never previously set up a stable government for themselves, but 25
    each of the containing large masses of Germans clamouring for reunion with their native land ... 26
    ... The whole of Europe is filled with the spirit of revolution. There is a deep sense not only of 27
    discontent, but of anger and revolt, amongst the workmen against pre-war conditions. The whole 28
    existing order in its political, social and economic aspects is questioned by the masses of the 29
    population from end of Europe to the other. In some countries, like Germany and Russia, the unrest 30
    takes the form of open rebellion; in others, like France, Great Britain and Italy, it takes the shape of 31
    strikes and of general disinclination to settle down to work - symptoms which are just as much 32
    concerned with the desire for political and social change as with wage demands. 33
    Much of this unrest is healthy. We shall never make a lasting peace by attempting to restore the 34
    conditions of 1914. But there is a danger that we may throw the masses of the population throughout 35
    Europe into the arms of the extremists whose only idea for regenerating mankind is to destroy utterly 36
    the whole existing fabric of society... 37
    The greatest danger that I see in the present situation is that Germany may throw in her lot with 38
    Bolshevism and place her resources, her brains, her vast organising power at the disposal of the 39
    revolutionary fanatics whose dream it is to conquer the world for Bolshevism by force of arms. This 40
    danger is no mere chimera. The present Government in Germany is weak; it has no prestige; its 41
    authority is challenged; it lingers merely because there is no alternative but the spartacists, and 42
    Germany is not ready for spartacism, as yet ... 43
    If Germany goes over to the spartacists it is inevitable that she should throw in her lot with the 44
    Russian Bolshevists. Once that happens all Eastern Europe will be swept into the orbit of the Bolshevik 45
    revolution and within a year we may witness the spectacle of nearly three hundred million people 46
    organised into a vast red army under German instructors and German generals, equipped with 47
    German cannon and German machine guns and prepared for a renewal of the attack on Western 48
    Europe. 49
    From every point of view, therefore, it seems to me that we ought to endeavour to draw up a peace 50
    settlement as if we were impartial arbiters, forgetful of the passions of the war. This settlement ought 51
    to have three ends in view. First of all it must do justice to the Allies by taking into account Germany's 52
    responsibility for the origin of the war and for the way in which it was fought. Secondly, it must be a 53
    settlement which a German Government can sign in the belief that it can fulfil the obligations it 54
    incurs. Thirdly, it must be a settlement which will contain in itself no provocations for future wars, and 55
    which will constitute an alternative to Bolshevism, because it will commend itself to all reasonable 56
    opinion as a fair settlement of the European problem … 57

    Source: David Lloyd George, ‘Fontainebleu memorandum’, 25 March 1919 (Cmd 1614, PP XIII,
    1922, pp. 1-5)
  6. The Spartacists were the intelligentsia in charge of the German Communist Party (named after Spartacus, leader of a slave revolt in Roman times).

    A bit of context: In Jan 1919 the Spartacists began a revolt in Berlin, trying to establish a German Soviet Socialist Republic modelled on the USSR. The revolt was put down by the German army.

    Lloyd George would have been worried in Mar 1919 that the flames hadn't been put out - and indeed the German Communist Party did grow in size throughout the 1920s. It was opposed to the Versailles Settlement, as it had a vested interest in fomenting social conflict. The other side, the German Nationalists, were also opposed to Versailles as the settlement stripped Germany of land and dignity.

    A lot of Lloyd George's concerns expressed in this document seem very valid in hindsight.