Are Peace Terms Too Harsh? Canadian Newspapers Unanimously Answer: "No!"
THIS MoNTH'S VITAL QUESTION
What Canadian Papers from Halifax to vancouver are saying
GERMANY," says the Toronto Mail and Empire, "carefully inspecting the Allies' peace terms, must imagine she is in the posi tion of the guest in the Manitoba hotel thirty years ago. The waiter leaned on the table and, breathing heavily, asked:
“ ‘What’ll ye have, pie or pudden’?”
“ ‘Pie,’ said the guest.
“ ‘Ye’ll have to take pudden’,” replied the waiter; ‘we have no pie’.”
The Londen Free Press expresses the same opinion when commenting on the German remark that they “cannot and will not sign the terms.” “It would not be wide of the mark,” says the Free Press, “to ask: ‘What can and what will they do’?”
The great majority of Canadian newspapeis confidently inform their readers that Germany will sign the peace terms—and sign them just as they are now. Several dailies ask the question: “Will Germany
sign?” and then proceed to answer their own query with an emphatic affirmative. The Quebec Telegraph headed its “peace terms” editorial: “Will Germany
sign?” and proceeds:
“What is the alternative?
“Eitherthe Allies will occupy the country and surround it with an economic blockade, or Germany will turn Bolshevist, allying herself with Russia and Hungary.
“In either case the situation would be serious.....
“Were Germany to go Bolshevist she would probably get completely out of hand, and the Allies would be faced by a Nihilistic condition disastrous to the peace.
“Probably, however, when their bluff is over, the Huns will come and sign rather than suffer either allied pressure or Bolshevist terror. The question will then be one of making Germany carry out the terms of a treaty to which the population as a whole is manifestly so hostile.”
Quebec L'Evenement also asks: “And if Germany
refuses to sign? ....,” and answers that to refuse signature is a “physical impossibility”; their sole resistance consists of a certain force of inertia, which, against famine and anarchy, will not long endure.”
The Victoria (B.C.) Daily Times says: “She may seek to escape some of the conditions by negotiation and by the submission of counter-proposals. Eventually, however, she will sign, for actually she has no other alternative.”
Repudiation, after signing, is regarded by the St. Thomas Times-Journal as in consonance with Gernan standards of morality. This paper says:
“Will Germany accept the treaty is now the question of absorbing interest, or, accepting it, will the Germans do this under reservation and with the design, of ultimate repudiation? That is the question of real importance and concern, and the answer cannot long be delayed.”
A Just Peace
TI/'HAT of the terms? Are they too harsh?
This is the emphatic statement made in Canadian newspapers from P.E.I. to B.C. The Saskatoon Star says :
“It is a just peace and a generous peace and, therefore, ought to be an enduring peace.”
“It was worth fighting and waiting for this Treaty of Peace which the Entente Allies have dictated to the Huns,” says the Kingston Standard.
The Vancouver Province believes the Germans were let off very easily and that the sentence of the allied powers “is a mild and humane punishment in view of the offence which has been committed.”
“A just peace that will make for enduring peace,” the Nelson, B.C., Neivs heads its editorial May 9, and goes on to say:
“Any fears that the Peace Congress would sacrifice to sentimental considerations the victory which the allied people won on the field of battle by their courage, endurance and sufferings, ar-e removed by the knowledge of the peace terms announced yesterday.”
The St. John, N.B., Standard, sees cause for rejoicing that “There has been no weakening, no slushy sentiment tending to relaxation of demands on a defeated and dishonorable foe.”
Germany is really lucky, after all, thinks the London Free Press, which says:
“Germany is fortunate that she is permitted to escape with the acceptance of terms which are summed up in two words, namely, justice and mercy,” and later: ^
“Germany had already shorn herself of national honor. The peace terms take away prestige, provinces, colonies, navy, merchant marine, army, land defenses, cables, enormous sums in indemnity, and her former Kaiser. The cup of retribution must seem to Germany to be indeed filled to overflowing. No other or lesser terms were possible.”
The Stratford Beacon expresses the belief that “The majority of people in Canada think that sufficient punishment was not meted out to the Germans before the armistice was signed, but they would have been at their old tricks crying “Kamerad” and then ready to fight again as soon as they had opportunity.” “Hard, but not harsh,” summarizes the viewpoint of the Montreal Gazette, which asserts:
“If the terms are hard, they are not harsh, and assuredly do not outrun the deserts of the case. Germany must be made pay for her wanton atrocities, and if her Empire is dismembered, if her people bear the burden of their rulers’ crimes through more than one generation, they may in time come to realize that their punishment is less than their iniquities deserve.”
The Halifax Chronicle thinks that the terms are adequate, remarking:
“So the punishment to he inflicted, however inadequate it may look at
present to those still smarting from their wounds, will really be exemplary, and such as has hardly ever before been inflicted on a sinning nation. From a firstclass and supposedly paramount Power, Germany, when she signs the peace terms, will have been reduced to military impotence for generations to come, and to third-rank standing among the nations.”
What Germany Would Have Imposed jy^JANY newspapers draw a comparison between the terms which the Gormans are to sign, and those terms which the Allies would have had to sign had the Germans won. The Toronto Mail and. Empire gives a column summary of Herr Erzberger’s (former German Chancellor’s) terms, from which the following extract may be quoted:
“Germany, in the first place, cannot tolerate the presence on her frontiers of so-called neutral states insufficiently strong to preserve their neutrality, or which do not want to remain neutral,” said Erzberger. “Her second aim must be to free herself from the insupportable leading strings of England on all questions of world policy. In the third place, she must break up the Russian colossus. Consequently Germany must have sovereignty not only over Belgium but the French coast from Dunkirk to Boulogne, and possession of the Channel Islands. She must also take the mines in French Lorraine and create an African German Empire by annexing the Belgian and French Congos, British Nigeria, Dahomey and the French West Coast.
“In fixing indemnities, the actual capacity of a state at the moment should not be considered. Besides a large immediate payment, annual instalments spread over a long period could be arranged. France would be helped in making them by decreasing her budget of naval and military appropriations, the reduction to be imposed in the peace treaty being such as would enable her to send substantial sums to Germany. Indemnities should provide for the repayment of the full costs of the war, and the damages of war, notably in East Prussia; the redemption of all of Germany’s public debt and the creation of a vast fund for incapacitated soldiers.”
The Belleville Intelligencer speaks with contempt of the Germans as “rotten losers,” and adds:
“If the Hun terms had been reversed by the Allies and imposed upon the defeated nations there might have been some ground for the howls now going up. The Huns are as rotten losers as fcb :y were winners and from first to last have inspired nothing but contempt. Even in their great hour of defeat there is no one to sympathize with a nation which knows not sympathy.”
The same point is also emphasized by the St. John, N.B., Globe:
• ** “The treaty which Germany will be compelled to sign—or suffer the consequences—is severe, but it is mild indeed compared with what Germany would have imposed on Great Britain and her Allies had she won.”
The Victoria, B.C. Times looks upon Germany as essentially unrepentant still, asserting that:
“Germany is not entitled to any relaxation of the terms submitted to her and she should receive none.
« She has not shown any real signs of regret or repentance for what she has done. She has not punished a solitary member of the criminal crowd which controlled her policy up to recent months.”
The German people should receive with warm favor the peace the Allies have laid down, several newspapers believe. The Toronto Mail and Empire points out that: “The treaty delivers the German people from the intolerable burden of the war machine, and practically guarantees them immunity from attack so long as they live up to the peace terms.”
The Toronto Star feels that one section of the treaty will be a welcome relief, hoping that “by a large element of the population the limitation of the army to 100,000 men and the forbidding of conscription may be regarded -as a measure of relief rather than as a punishment. Instead of being forced to go into the army they will be forced to keep out of it.”
The Mail and Empire points out later, however, that to believe the Germans will accept the terms in any permanently meek fashion is a mistaken notion:
“Apart from the coterie of professional politicians, there is no answering cry of protest from Germany. The masses in Germany seem to be too distracted by immediate cares—by shortage of food, by chaos in industry, and a great weariness of turmoil—to care what the terms are. It would be folly, of course, to believe that this is more than a passing condition. When the Germans recover from their depression, and have an opportunity to think of the future, they will feel in their hearts what they now feel in their stomachs.”
Wanted the Kaiser Indicted 'T'HE majority of Canadian newspapers, rather strangely it may seem, ignore the section referring to Mr. Hohenzollern’s trial. The few newspapers commenting on this express complete accord. The Lethbridge Herald says:
“The solemn arraignment of the ex-Kaiser will constitute memorable exemplification of the truth that wrong-doing, however it may appear to triumph, is bound, by the laws of God and man, to suffer. There will be no thought of personal or national vengeance in relation to the trial of the ex-Kaiser.”
The Vancouver Province rather questions the wisdom of the section which calls for Austria’s perpetual independence:
“The treaty imposed on Germany calls for the independence of German-Austria. Whether this is intended to prohibit a merger for all time to come is not clear. There seems to be no substantial reason for keeping the countries apart. As a separate nation Germany has owned Austria-Hungary. It might be better to have them united and then there will be no concealing the responsibility.”
Le Devoir, La Presse and other FrenchCanadian papers with manifest feelings of pleasure contrast the scene at Versailles almost half a century ago, when the Hun was “top dog,” with that historic meeting
on Wednesday, May 7, 1919. Le Devoir does not believe, however, that Germany’s power is irretrievably broken. The French-Canadian press agree that the terms do not err on the side of severity.
The Statesman, a national weekly published in Toronto, and edited by Lindsay Crawford, takes a very pessimistic view of the peace terms, and asserts that “nowhere has the final lesult of the Versailles Conference met with enthusiasm.” This journal says:
“The long delay in formulating their terms, and the hopes so lightly raised and so grievously shattered, have combined to disillusion the allied peoples and to sow the seeds of mutual distrust and suspicion. So long as the enemy was in the field the Allied nations were in closest accord and the friendliest relations prevailed. But once the tension of war was removed and the real aims of the warring nations were revealed at the Peace Conference, the high ideals for which the world had made such heavy sacrifices vanished as in a dream. The permanent peace which the nations had sought in an appalling war was found to be visionary.
“It may be that the world expected too much as the result of its outpouring of blood and treasure, but the blame must rest with those who promised so much. Even in the matter of indemnity to be paid—a minor consideration as compared with the establishment of a lasting peace—the world is still in the dark as to the total amount to be exacted from the enemy. The delay of several months, with the accumulating war charges for the maintenance of Allied armies, and the dislocation of trade, would be regarded with little concern had' Allied statesmen really succeeded in redeeming their pledge, that this was to be a war to end war. For what is the result of the five months’ deliberations? It is humiliating to reflect that the only nation, apparently, which now stands by Wilson’s fourteen points is Germany. In due time we shall, no doubt, learn why Mr. Wilson failed to secure the adoption of his original charter of peace.”
The Statesman also regards the League of Nations with acute disappointment, saying:
“Of greater moment at the present juncture, however, is the attitude of the Allied nations. Significant of their failure to reach the goal set before a world in arms, was the announcement, simultaneously with the publication of the covenant of the League of Nations, of a treaty that binds Great Britain and the United States to go to the aid of France if attacked by Germany. Nothing so clearly demonstrates the failure of the Allies to establish peace through a League o\ Nations. Alongside this new Balance of Power disquieting symptoms are observable of a realignment of military forces and the establishment of counterleagues which serve to remind the world hovr far removed is the millennium of world peace.”
And, in conclusion, the Statesman bewails the fact that -we’re pretty much where we were in the days of the Holy Alliance:
“The statesmanship of the Versailles Conference has left the world much as it was when the Holy Alliance, with its vain pretensions of religious and cultured unity, sought to constitute a Concert of Europe pledged to the preservation of public peace, the tranquillity of states, the inviolability of possessions and the faith of treaties.”
The Victoria, B.C., Times answers some criticism made, by United States dailies, of the reparation
“The principal criticism recorded against -,he Treaty of Versailles in the Allied countries concerns the reparation provisions. A little reflection, however, must disclose the impossibility of any final determination of the matter at this stage. Nobody knows what is going to take place in Germany in the next few years. She may have a revolution, mock or real, with the organization of a Government which might repudiate theTreaty of Versailles altogether.
“It undoubtedly is this possibility which has prompted the Conference to provide for the creation of a reparation commission ever a term of years which will fix the terms and conditions in accordance Avith the circumstances that may deA^elop from time to time. Certainly it is impossible to place any reliance upon bonds issued by the present Government in Germany.”
The Toronto World counsels moderation in treating Germany as an outcast, as the pariah of nations:
“Germany is being sent to Co\’entry by the civilized poAA’ers. Here Ave ha\re not a question of the justice of the policy, but of its ultimate effect upon ourselves. Granted we have caged the tiger, but do we desire to maintain a caged tiger as a component part of international economy?.....
“But Germany’s isolation is not voluntary—very much the reverse.
“We have caged the tiger, but Ave are taking no steps to denature the beast. It is characteristic of our civilization that there is nothing in the treaty that would make for the exercise of any chastening or purifying or refining influence upon the German people. That is left to the German people themselves. . . .
“Intercourse with other free and enlightened nations will be the best antidote for the poison of the Hohenzollern regime which still remains.”
The Toronto Globe puts the situation somewhat differently :
“Not until Germany, by the labor and suffering of her people, has cleansed her soul of lustful belief in and worship of brute force will she be a fit associate on terms of equality for countries whose one desire was and is to live at peace Avith the world.”
“Weltmacht oder Niedergang”—world-power or downfall—is a fallacy, says the Montreal Star.
“Never since the dawn of history has any State been faced with the absolute alternative of universal do-
minion or national eclipse. Germany is to-day going “under the yoke,” broken, ruined, “under no illusions as to the extent of our defeat and the degree of our want of power” in the words of her chief spokesman at Versailles, but she does not face ‘Niedergang’, final downfall and eventful obliteration as one of the great nations of the earth.”
Germany may eventually rejoin the family of nations, adds the Star, for
.... “the future lies in Geiunany’s hands. Provision is made for the remission of some economic penalties if they are found too exacting. The Allies have no desire to ruin Germany, neither is it their Avili to perpetuate a wrong. ‘The German people,’ said Brockdorff-Rantzau, ‘are ready in their hearts to take upon themselves their heavy lot. if the bases of peace Avhich have been established are not any more shaken.’ That is all that is required. It will be a bitter road which Germany must travel, bitter but notimpossible.”
“Are we ready for the next struggle?” is the rather startling headline OA’er a Mail and Empire editorial. But the “next struggle” is a “trade Avar,” and the Mail and Empire says:
“Peace is not simply the negation of war. It is but a different way of struggling. And to a considerable extent it means struggling Avith the same competitors as those from whom AVO AV rested victory on the fields of battle. Germany AV i 11 again be our rival in trade as she was before she became our antagonist in war. She will be as resourceful and determined in the one sphere as she was in the other. When she has put her name to the treaty she will be as free to push her wares in the markets of the world as she was before she turned her war machine upon her neighbors in the summer of 1914. Of course, she is heavily handicapped.”