Unit 1 - Democracy and Equality for Women: Why Then? Why did the endeavor for this reform get underway when it did?
World War I
In one of the preceding video clips it was mentioned that Woodrow Wilson pursued a policy of "liberal internationalism", which is essentially the idea that the U.S. should use involve itself in the affairs of the international community as a means to promote "liberal" values. This policy included the promotion of a people's right to self determination and "making the world safe for democracy."
- self determination: the principle in international law that nations have the right to freely choose their sovereignty and international political status with no external compulsion or external interference
1) Read and take notes on this excerpt about the Treaty of Versailles:
TREATY OF VERSAILLES
Viewing Germany as the chief instigator of the conflict, the European Allied Powers decided to impose particularly stringent treaty obligations upon the defeated Germany. The Treaty of Versailles, presented for German leaders to sign on May 7, 1919, forced Germany to concede territories to Belgium (Eupen-Malmédy), Czechoslovakia (the Hultschin district), and Poland (Poznan [German: Posen], West Prussia and Upper Silesia). The Germans returned Alsace and Lorraine, annexed in 1871 after the Franco-Prussian War, to France. All German overseas colonies became League of Nation Mandates, and the city of Danzig (today: Gdansk), with its large ethnically German population, became a Free City. The treaty demanded demilitarization and occupation of the Rhineland, and special status for the Saarland under French control. Plebiscites were to determine the future of areas in northern Schleswig on the Danish-German frontier and parts of Upper Silesia on the border with Poland.
Perhaps the most humiliating portion of the treaty for defeated Germany was Article 231, commonly known as the "War Guilt Clause," which forced the German nation to accept complete responsibility for initiating World War I. As such Germany was liable for all material damages, and France's premier Georges Clemenceau particularly insisted on imposing enormous reparation payments. Aware that Germany would probably not be able to pay such a towering debt, Clemenceau and the French nevertheless greatly feared rapid German recovery and the initiation of a new war against France. Hence, the French sought in the postwar treaty to limit Germany's potential to regain its economic superiority and to rearm. The German army was to be limited to 100,000 men, and conscription proscribed; the treaty restricted the Navy to vessels under 100,000 tons, with a ban on the acquisition or maintenance of a submarine fleet.
Moreover, Germany was forbidden to maintain an air force. Finally, Germany was required to conduct war crimes proceedings against the Kaiser and other leaders for waging aggressive war. The subsequent Leipzig Trials, without the Kaiser or other significant national leaders in the dock, resulted largely in acquittals and were widely perceived as a sham, even in Germany.
The newly formed German democratic government saw the Versailles Treaty as a “dictated peace” (Diktat). Although France, which had suffered more materially than the other parties in the “Big Four,” had insisted upon harsh terms, the peace treaty did not ultimately help to settle the international disputes which had initiated World War I. On the contrary, it tended to hinder inter-European cooperation and make more fractious the underlying issues which had caused the war in the first place. The dreadful sacrifices of war and tremendous loss of life, suffered on all sides, weighed heavily not only upon the losers of the conflict, but also upon those combatants on the winning side, like Italy, whose postwar spoils seemed incommensurate with the terrible price each nation had paid in blood and material goods.
For the populations of the defeated powers -- Germany, Austria, Hungary, and Bulgaria -- the respective peace treaties appeared an unfair punishment, and their governments, whether democratic as in Germany or Austria, or authoritarian, in the case of Hungary and Bulgaria, quickly resorted to violating the military and financial terms of the accords. Efforts to revise and defy the more burdensome provisions of the peace became a key element in their respective foreign policies and proved a destabilizing factor in international politics.
The war guilt clause, its incumbent reparation payments, and the limitations on the German military were particularly onerous in the minds of most Germans, and revision of the Versailles Treaty represented one of the platforms that gave radical right wing parties in Germany, including Hitler's Nazi Party, such credibility to mainstream voters in the 1920s and early 1930s. Promises to rearm, to reclaim German territory, particularly in the East, to remilitarize the Rhineland, and to regain prominence again among the European and world powers after such a humiliating defeat and peace, stoked ultranationalist sentiment and helped average voters to overlook the more radical tenets of Nazi ideology.
The burdensome reparations, coupled with a general inflationary period in Europe in the 1920s, caused spiraling hyperinflation of the German Reichsmark by 1923. This hyperinflationary period combined with the effects of the Great Depression (beginning in 1929) seriously to undermine the stability of the German economy, wiping out the personal savings of the middle class and spurring massive unemployment. Such economic chaos did much to increase social unrest, destabilizing the fragile Weimar Republic.
Finally, the efforts of the Western European powers to marginalize Germany through the Versailles Treaty undermined and isolated German democratic leaders. Particularly deleterious in connection with the harsh provisions of Versailles was the rampant conviction among many in the general population that Germany had been “stabbed in the back” by the “November criminals” -- those who had helped to form the new Weimar government and broker the peace which Germans had so desperately wanted, but which ended so disastrously in Versailles. Many Germans forgot that they had applauded the fall of the Kaiser, had initially welcomed parliamentary democratic reform, and had rejoiced at the armistice. They recalled only that the German Left -- Socialists, Communists and Jews, in common imagination -- had surrendered German honor to an ignominious peace when no foreign armies had even set foot on German soil.
This Dolchstosslegende (stab-in-the-back legend) helped further to discredit German socialist and liberal circles who felt most committed to maintain Germany's fragile democratic experiment. The difficulties imposed by social and economic unrest in the wake of World War I and its onerous peace terms worked in tandem to undermine pluralistic democratic solutions in Weimar Germany and to increase public longing for more authoritarian direction, a kind of leadership which German voters ultimately and unfortunately found in Adolf Hitler and his National Socialist Party.
2) Read and analyze this excerpt from Woodrow Wilson's Fourteen Points Speech. Consider questions you can ask yourself about the text to help with your notes and understanding of the central ideas.
Rubric for notes:
4 - Discusses the document's central ideas including the politics and geographic implications of Wilson's plan for the postwar world and the rationale for his choices.
- includes evidence/quotes from the document
- makes connections to the unit's essential question
- includes numeric and/or statistical data
- shows a consideration for the time period and its impact the document's contents
- is neat and organized; contains headings that distinguish central ideas and numbers, bullets etc to show supporting ideas and evidence
Woodrow Wilson's Fourteen Points Speech (January 8, 1918)
"It will be our wish and purpose that the processes of peace, when they are begun, shall be absolutely open and that they shall involve and permit henceforth no secret understandings of any kind. The day of conquest and aggrandizement is gone by; so is also the day of secret covenants entered into in the interest of particular governments and likely at some unlooked-for moment to upset the peace of the world. It is this happy fact, now clear to the view of every public man whose thoughts do not still linger in an age that is dead and gone, which makes it possible for every nation whose purposes are consistent with justice and the peace of the world to avow nor or at any other time the objects it has in view.
We entered this war because violations of right had occurred which touched us to the quick and made the life of our own people impossible unless they were corrected and the world secure once for all against their recurrence. What we demand in this war, therefore, is nothing peculiar to ourselves. It is that the world be made fit and safe to live in; and particularly that it be made safe for every peace-loving nation which, like our own, wishes to live its own life, determine its own institutions, be assured of justice and fair dealing by the other peoples of the world as against force and selfish aggression. All the peoples of the world are in effect partners in this interest, and for our own part we see very clearly that unless justice be done to others it will not be done to us. The program of the world's peace, therefore, is our program; and that program, the only possible program, as we see it, is this:
I. Open covenants of peace, openly arrived at, after which there shall be no private international understandings of any kind but diplomacy shall proceed always frankly and in the public view.
II. Absolute freedom of navigation upon the seas, outside territorial waters, alike in peace and in war, except as the seas may be closed in whole or in part by international action for the enforcement of international covenants.
III. The removal, so far as possible, of all economic barriers and the establishment of an equality of trade conditions among all the nations consenting to the peace and associating themselves for its maintenance.
IV. Adequate guarantees given and taken that national armaments will be reduced to the lowest point consistent with domestic safety.
V. A free, open-minded, and absolutely impartial adjustment of all colonial claims, based upon a strict observance of the principle that in determining all such questions of sovereignty the interests of the populations concerned must have equal weight with the equitable claims of the government whose title is to be determined.
VI. The evacuation of all Russian territory and such a settlement of all questions affecting Russia as will secure the best and freest cooperation of the other nations of the world in obtaining for her an unhampered and unembarrassed opportunity for the independent determination of her own political development and national policy and assure her of a sincere welcome into the society of free nations under institutions of her own choosing; and, more than a welcome, assistance also of every kind that she may need and may herself desire. The treatment accorded Russia by her sister nations in the months to come will be the acid test of their good will, of their comprehension of her needs as distinguished from their own interests, and of their intelligent and unselfish sympathy.
VII. Belgium, the whole world will agree, must be evacuated and restored, without any attempt to limit the sovereignty which she enjoys in common with all other free nations. No other single act will serve as this will serve to restore confidence among the nations in the laws which they have themselves set and determined for the government of their relations with one another. Without this healing act the whole structure and validity of international law is forever impaired.
VIII. All French territory should be freed and the invaded portions restored, and the wrong done to France by Prussia in 1871 in the matter of Alsace-Lorraine, which has unsettled the peace of the world for nearly fifty years, should be righted, in order that peace may once more be made secure in the interest of all.
IX. A readjustment of the frontiers of Italy should be effected along clearly recognizable lines of nationality.
X. The peoples of Austria-Hungary, whose place among the nations we wish to see safeguarded and assured, should be accorded the freest opportunity to autonomous development.
XI. Rumania, Serbia, and Montenegro should be evacuated; occupied territories restored; Serbia accorded free and secure access to the sea; and the relations of the several Balkan states to one another determined by friendly counsel along historically established lines of allegiance and nationality; and international guarantees of the political and economic independence and territorial integrity of the several Balkan states should be entered into.
XII. The Turkish portion of the present Ottoman Empire should be assured a secure sovereignty, but the other nationalities which are now under Turkish rule should be assured an undoubted security of life and an absolutely unmolested opportunity of autonomous development, and the Dardanelles should be permanently opened as a free passage to the ships and commerce of all nations under international guarantees.
XIII. An independent Polish state should be erected which should include the territories inhabited by indisputably Polish populations, which should be assured a free and secure access to the sea, and whose political and economic independence and territorial integrity should be guaranteed by international covenant.
XIV. A general association of nations must be formed under specific covenants for the purpose of affording mutual guarantees of political independence and territorial integrity to great and small states alike.
In regard to these essential rectifications of wrong and assertions of right we feel ourselves to be intimate partners of all the governments and peoples associated together against the Imperialists. We cannot be separated in interest or divided in purpose. We stand together until the end. For such arrangements and covenants we are willing to fight and to continue to fight until they are achieved; but only because we wish the right to prevail and desire a just and stable peace such as can be secured only by removing the chief provocations to war, which this program does remove. We have no jealousy of German greatness, and there is nothing in this program that impairs it. We grudge her no achievement or distinction of learning or of pacific enterprise such as have made her record very bright and very enviable. We do not wish to injure her or to block in any way her legitimate influence or power. We do not wish to fight her either with arms or with hostile arrangements of trade if she is willing to associate herself with us and the other peace- loving nations of the world in covenants of justice and law and fair dealing. We wish her only to accept a place of equality among the peoples of the world, -- the new world in which we now live, -- instead of a place of mastery.
Neither do we presume to suggest to her any alteration or modification of her institutions. But it is necessary, we must frankly say, and necessary as a preliminary to any intelligent dealings with her on our part, that we should know whom her spokesmen speak for when they speak to us, whether for the Reichstag majority or for the military party and the men whose creed is imperial domination.
We have spoken now, surely, in terms too concrete to admit of any further doubt or question. An evident principle runs through the whole program I have outlined. It is the principle of justice to all peoples and nationalities, and their right to live on equal terms of liberty and safety with one another, whether they be strong or weak.
Unless this principle be made its foundation no part of the structure of international justice can stand. The people of the United States could act upon no other principle; and to the vindication of this principle they are ready to devote their lives, their honor, and everything they possess. The moral climax of this the culminating and final war for human liberty has come, and they are ready to put their own strength, their own highest purpose, their own integrity and devotion to the test."
rationale: 1. the fundamental reason or reasons serving to account for something.
2. a statement of reasons.