After the burdens of the War, these countries cannot bear the burdens of the peace. It is essential that they should feel that the peace is just and equal for all.
And unless that be assured it is not only in Central Europe that there will be fear of Bolshevism, for nowhere does it propagate so easily, as has been seen, as amid national disillusionment.
The French Government desires to limit itself for the moment to these observations of a general character. It pays full homage to the intentions which inspired Mr. Lloyd George’s memorandum. But it considers that the inductions that can be drawn from the present Note are in consonance with justice and the general interests.
And those are the considerations by which the French Government will be inspired in the coming exchange of ideas for the discussion of conditions suggested by the Prime Minister of Great Britain.
These two documents are of more than usual interest.
The British Prime Minister, with his remarkable insight, at once notes the seriousness of the situation. He sees the danger to the peace of the world in German depression. Germany oppressed does not mean Germany subjected. Every year France becomes numerically weaker, Germany stronger. The horrors of war will be forgotten and the maintenance of peace will depend on the creation of a situation which makes life possible, does not cause exasperation to come into public feeling or into the just claims of Germans desirous of independence. Injustice in the hour of triumph will never be pardoned, can never be atoned.
So the idea of handing over to other States numbers of Germans is not only an injustice, but a cause of future wars, and what can be said of Germans is also true of Magyars. No cause of future wars must be allowed to remain. Putting millions of Germans under Polish rule—that is, under an inferior people which has never shown any capacity for stable self-government—must lead to a new war sooner or later. If Germany in exasperation became a country of revolution, what would happen to Europe? You can impose severe conditions, but that does not mean that you can enforce them; the conditions to be imposed must be such that a responsible German Government can in good faith assume the obligation of carrying them out.
Neither Great Britain nor the United States of America can assume the obligation of occupying Germany if it does not carry out the excessively severe conditions which it is desired to impose. Can France occupy Germany alone?
From that moment Lloyd George saw the necessity of admitting Germany into the League of Nations at once, and proposed a scheme of treaty containing conditions which, while very severe, were in part tolerable for the German people.