182: Versailles Pt. 1 - The Treaty That Shaped (Broke?) The World


After the fighting had stopped, it was time to decide what the peace would look like. For this task representatives from all over the world gathered in Paris in early 1919.



Hello everyone and welcome to History of the Great War episode 182. Eric, Trystan, Curtis, Leah. The War on the Western Front was over after November 1918, but there was one giant task that had to be completed before the war could be officially over, and that was to decide what the peace would look like. Over the next 16 or so episodes we will seek to determine how the Versailles tready was created, who created it, and what its ramifications were. It is a very confusing story, with hundreds of diplomats and representatives all gathered in Paris for over a year while grappling with topics both very small and monumentally large. The conference would last well into 1920, but many of its most important decisions would occur in the early months of 1919. During these first six months of 1919 the conference in Paris would be the judge, jury, and executor of decisions that would be, to put it bluntly, world changing. Empires would be destroyed, new countries created, punishments and rewards would be handed out to both enemies and allies. Throughout the process many problems that we are still dealing with today would find their roots in decisions that were made in the offices of the delegations in Paris. The Middle East would be entirely remade based on the decisions of mainly British and french leaders, nations would be created in the region with little thought given to the feelings and views of the inhabitants of the new countries. In eastern Europe borders and countries would be created based on the whims of those in power in the region at the time, creating problems that would be fully settled until late in the 1990s. In the Far East the treatment of Japan and China would set the stage for both the Second World War and civil war in China. Then of course there was the treatment of Germany, which we will of course discuss in detail. Those were all mistakes made and problems caused by the Paris Peace Conference and the resulting Treaty of Versailles. But I will say right up front here that my evaluation of the actions and results of Versailles may not be as negative in some areas as some other tellings of this same story. Richard Holbrooke does a good job of describing one of the reasons why I htink the leaders at the Paris Peace Conference probably get too much credit for some decisions, not enough for others, while at the same time also getting too much blame for some decisions and not enough blame for others. The core of it rests in the fact that often whether or not a decision was the right one was based on luck, here is Holbrooke “In diplomacy, as in life itself, one often learns more from failures than from successes. Triumphs will seem, in retrospect, to be foreordained, a series of brilliant actions and decisions that may in fact have been lucky or inadvertent, whereas failures illuminate paths and pitfalls to be avoided— in the parlance of modern bureaucrats, lessons learned.” Trying to tell the story of Versailles is very confusing, and trying to make judgement calls on mistakes and successes is equally challenging. Due to how confusing the story is let me just take a moment to discuss how these episodes are going to be organized. After some failed attempts at trying to tell this story chonologically I have decided to instead break the episodes up by topic. The first three episodes are going to function as an introduction where we will talk about the Peace Conference itself, how and where it was created, who was there, and then what some of the more impactful countries hoped to gain for themselves during their time at the Conference. Starting in Episode 4, and until the penultimate episode we will then break the entire world up by region to discuss the deliberations and final decisions based around those reasons. For each of these areas we will take the tory from the end of the war, or even before, all the way to the aftermath of the treaty. This is a lot of ground to cover for each region, but I think it will help this story make sense to everybody. Trying to do a chronological telling of the story is almost quixotic in its complexity. The Supreme Council made up of the Big Four countries of Britain, France, Italy, and the United States might discuss Japan one day, then Bulgaria the next, then African colonies the next. Trying to keep up with the daily deliberations in a narrative confuses me, and I have spent months researching this stuff. One thing I want to mention is that due to this organization we may cover some topics more than once, but from different points of view. For example when we discuss the creation of Poland we will have to also discuss a bit about Germany’s Eastern borders, but mostly from the Polish perspective. Then when we talk about Germany we will do so again, only this time from the German perspective. I hope you will forgive this small bit of repetition, you might not even notice since, by my calculations those two conversations will be over 2 months apart. Also, a small note on terminology, throughout these episodes I will be using just Conference or Paris to refer to the actual Paris Peace Conference and all of its associated meetings and discussions. I will also be using simple Versailles to refer to the Treaty of Versailles. Shortening those names just a bit may seem small but, well, I am going to say those words alot. One final thing before we jump into the episode. I am going to gather up questions for a post-Versailles questions episode. So send them in now, even if I end up covering your question that is fine, at least I will know I am covering the right stuff. So send those Conference or Versailles questions over to historyofthegreatwar@outlook.com or Twitter and HistoryGreatWar or Facebook at facebook.com/historyofthegreatwar.

After the war was over the Allies knew that they would need to get together somewhere to decide on the final peace terms offered to their enemies. Paris would eventually be chosen as the venue for these discussions, a location basically insisted on by the French but neither the British or Americans wanted it to beheld in Paris, with Edward House, a close friend and confidant of President Wilson writing that “It will be difficult enough at best to make a just peace, and it will be almost impossible to do so while sitting in the atmosphere of a belligerent capital. It might turn out well and yet again it might be a tragedy.” Regardless of their trepidations about it being held in France, Paris was eventually chosen, again mostly due to French absolute insistence. Once the venue was chosen it was time for invitations to be sent out. The French would handle the invitations, and they would be sent to any country that could claim to be on the Allied side during the war. In the last 2 years of the war the roster of Allied countries had increased significantly with many countries from around the globe joining in the effort after the United States had entered the war. These countries were from all over the world, Liberia, Siam, a variety of South and Central American countries, and many others that are not closely associated with the story of the war. Most of them had entered the war precisely for this moment, when they would be called upon to join in the discussions about the peace and have their voice heard on a global stage. In total 30 countries would send delegates to Paris, I do not give an exact number there because there is some ambiguity on the exact number. I will not run down all of these ambiguities since they are not huge important, but as an example China would actually send two delegations because at this exact moment the country was divided between two governments. The size of the delegations varied wildly from country to country, some would just send a handful of representatives while others would number in the hundreds. But no matter the size, each delegation was hoping to push their own agenda, whatever that might be, in front of the global community and hopefully gain something for their efforts.

While many countries were invited, that did not mean that they were each given the same amount of power over the deliberations. There were basically three classes of delegations, those from the Great Powers of the United States, Britain, France, Japan, and Italy who each had 5 votes apiece. Then the second class of Belgium, Brazil, and Serbia with 3 each, then a larger group of countries with 2 including Australia, Canada, South Africa, and India, then an even larger group that only had 1 vote. The exact distribution of votes in the general assembly was hotly contested, with many concerns about some countries getting more delegates thaty they should, like for example Brazil and their three votes after they had contributed very little to the war while Portugal, who had sent over 60,000 troops to the Western Front, only got 1 vote. While many of the smaller countries angled for more votes, they were mostly fighting over table scraps because the real power at the Conference belonged to the powers that created the Supreme Council, which was led by the lead delegates from the United States, Britain, France, Japan, and Italy. It would bein this council, and the commissions and committees created by it, that the real negotiations and deliberations at Paris would occur. The general assembly would sort of just function as a rubber stamp on the decisions made by the Supreme Council. It is because of their overall importance to our story that we are going to dig into the delegations and objectives of the United States, France, and Britain during the next two episodes. Then along the way in our story we will touch on the same for each country that we encounter along the way, including Japan and Italy.

I start today with the Americans. One item to discuss about the United States, right up front here, is how odd it was that Wilson was actually leading the delegation that went to Paris. Wilson, as President, was the head of state of the United States which put him on a different level when compared with the other leaders that were sent to Paris. While Lloyd George and Clemenceau have played such a large role in our story of the war so far in their respective countries they were not actually the most powerful government official and head of state. They were both, technically, second in the political pecking order with the King in Britain and hte President in France being the head of states. This may seem like a very small distinction, but it was important to the players at Versailles, especially in the beginning. Before the conference even started there were many that hoped that Wilson would not be the one to lead the American delegation. For the Europeans it was due to a few reasons, the first was the difference in ranking in their respective governments but also a concern about what Wilson represented and his specific opinions about some topics. All over Europe and Asia countries had taken hold of Wilson’s Fourteen Points and based their entire goals at the Conference around them. This would come into conflict with the goals of many countries, Britain, France, and Italy chief among them. From an American perspective Wilson was also maybe not the best choice as a leader. While he had many talents, complex diplomatic negotiations were not among them, and this is a theme that we will revisit throughout the course of these episodes. Wilson had a tendency to take the information given to him by the leaders of Brtain, France, or other allies at face value. Thsi would result in Wilson being flat out taken advantage of several times. Wilson was also very good ad deceiving himself about his own goals and actions, while will happen many times over the course of deliberations. The most frequent example of this was that he would figure out a way in his own mind to justify applying a piece of his lofty goals for the world to one group of people but not the other. National determination was a frequent part of these decisions, and the justification of why one group of people would get the privilege but not another group. Because of these reasons many people hoped that Wilson’s presence at the Conference would be short. For what it is worth, although this perhaps just showcases his naivety, Wilson also believed that his presence at the conference would be short. He hoped that he would be able to just be present or a few weeks to outline the peace settlement and then he would leave while the details were being determined. This would prove to be simply impossible. What would become clear during the deliberations at the Conference was that the big picture, or the broad strokes of the settlements wre illusions that could never be settled on without details being determined, it was the details of those settlements that were important and there would have to be lengthy discussions before those details could be determined. Also, while maybe in public he did not like to admit it, and maybe he event deceived himself sometimes, Wilson deeply cared about the details and wanted to be involved in their determination. One final note on Wilson before we move on, his health would begin to fial him later in the conference, especially right at the end. this was a very important development because it reduced his ability to participate in the critical ending period of the Conference, and also his ability to get support back home for the agreements that he had made. It would also be a contributing factor to why the United States did not join the League of Nations, which is a whole big discussion that we will have, do not worry. At the time many poltical leaders directly attributed the failure of the United States to enter the League to Wilson’s failing health, with Democratic Sentator Gilbert Hitchcock saying ‘I shall always believe ratification would have been possible if Wilson’s health had not given way; when that tragedy occurred, not even his best friends could exercise any considerable influence on him.’

While it is easy to blame this failure on Wilson’s health, Wilson was also having some isseus back home in the political arena. One of the themes you will see throughout these episodes is that political developments in all of the countries involved in the negotiations will have important ramifications on the Conference itself. Moreso than during the war, or at least moreso than during the war in the Western Countries that were on the Supreme Council, the political situation would be precarious at best with many citizens questioning how wise it had been to get into the war in the first place, and then also quetsioning any piece of the treaty that did not perfectly agree with their worldview. In the United States the overall view of the citizens was firmly in the camp of questioning why the United States had entered the war and if that had been a good decision. There was an election in November 1918,which would have taken place about a week before the armistice and it functioned as sort of a referendum on the participation of the United States in the war, and it was not favorable for Wilson and his Democratic party with the Democrats losing their majority in both the Senate and the House of Representatives. The results of this election caused many people to question the support for the war among the United States populace. Even those American who strongly supported American involvement in the war began to question the country’s involvement in world politics after the war was over. Isolationism had been the widest held belief before the war, and with the war over many returned to that course very quickly. These development left Wilson in a very weak position when he arrived in Paris, because his support back home was dubious at best. This did not preven thim from driving forward with his agenda in the belief that when it came time he would be able to get the votes needed for any agreement. This agenda was wide ranging and was almost designed to make his allies uncomfortable. Freedom of the Seas was high on his list, something that the British were steadfastly egain. Then there was national determination for all people’s which every colonial power was entrenched to oppose, then there was also the League of Nations which was not outright opposed by anybody but would never have the full support of the British and French.

Speaking of the French, lets talk about the French for a bit, but before we start talkinga bout the French delegation their goals at the Conference we need to take a step back and look at the situation in France after the war. Over the course of the war France had lost a higher proportion of its population than almost any other country. Most of the fighting in the Western Front had occurred on French soil with 6,000 square miles of the French countryside in some level of destruction. This included areas that provided most of France’s industrial capacity and a large amount of agricultural land. From a political perspective it appeared that they had lost their largest ally in the East, Russia, long seen as a critical counterbalance to protect France from German aggression. Speaking of Germany, while the country had been defeated in the war the demographics of Germany were still against France. Its population was still going to be larger after the war, and it would probably go back to growing faster. So France had been brutalized by the war, it had lost its long time ally to revolution, and its new allies were of dubious reliability when it came to a war on the continent. What France needed was a very favorable peace to make up for how much it had been brutalized by the war. Which sets up another theme that will run throughout the deliberations. On one side you have the French, trying desperately to strengthen their position and trying to make up for everything that the country had suffered during the war. They would push for economic concessions, greater reparations, as much territory pulled away from Germany as possible all while getting pushback from their allies that they were being too greedy and vindictive. This would come up several times during the discussions when they got around to a variety of topics but it would be of greatest concern during the discussions of the reparations that the Germans had to pay. Even if these considerations did not always take center stage it would always be an important feature of French decision making and policy, their country was wrecked, and they would take a long time to recover, and they greatly feared that Germany would be ready for another war before thy were.

While Wilson would be head of the American delegation at the head of the French at the Conference would be Clemenceau. Clemenceau would be in full control over the deliberations from a French perspective and he would also be in full control of French policy. He had an inner circle of advisors that he discussed topics with but he rarely consulted others in the French government. Of all of the leaders he was probably in the most powerful position over the course of the Conference. The French President Poincare was in a precarious posittion, and Clemenceau was seen by many as the leader that had brought the war to a successful conclusion, and this allowed him almost total freedom to shape the French position. Clemenceau did not really like ht other leades at the Conference, hd found Lloyd George to be devious and untrustworthy while also finding Wilson to be naive and a bit full of himself. At one point he is rumored to have said that “I find myself between Jesus Christ on the one hand and Napoleon Bonaparte on the other” obviously referencing Wilson and Lloyd George respectively. Clemenceau’s interactions with Wilson are very interesting and include some real gems when it comes to things that he said to Wilson during discussions, for example he would say when addressing the American viewpoint on European affairs “For you, a hundred years is a very long time; for us, it does not amount to much. I knew men who had seen Napoleon with their own eyes. We have our conception of history, and it cannot be quite the same as yours.” For their part some of the other delegates did not really like Clemenceau either, with a British delegate describing Clemenceau’s style like this “No organization of his ideas, no method of work, the accumulation in himself of all duties and all responsibilities, thus nothing works. And this man of 78 years, sick, for he is a diabetic . . . receives fifty people a day and exerts himself with a thousand details which he ought to leave to his ministers. . . . At no moment in the war was I as uneasy as I am for the peace.” Here is another quote from Clemenceau when he was speaking to Wilson, which would occur on March 4th 1919, March would be a good ways into the Conference but I think this does a fantastic job of summarizing why France and Clemenceau held some of the views that they did throughout the conference, and why the French believed that the Americans simply did not understand the situation “The fact of the war cannot be forgotten. America did not witness this war at close quarters during the first three years; we, on our part, lost a million and a half men during that period. We no longer have a labor force. Our English friends who lost less than we did but enough to have greatly suffered, will understand me. It is a mistake to believe that the world is governed by abstract principles. These are accepted by some parties, rejected by others; I am not speaking of supernatural doctrines: of these I have nothing to say; but I do not believe that human dogmas exist, only rules of justice and good sense. You wish to do justice to the Germans. Do not believe that they will ever forgive us; they will only seek the chance for revenge; nothing will suppress the fury of those who hoped to dominate the world and who believed success so near” I like this quote so much because it not only makes it plain that Clemenceau did not believe that Wilson understood the suffering of France, but it also attacks the very core concepts of a Wilsonian peace based around understanding instead of punishment and the belief that if countries are treated fairly there would be less conflict.

While Clemenceau might have harbored some negative feelings about his allies, he would never have denied that France needed them. Before the conference began he would tell the French Chamber of Deputies that “There is an old system of alliances called the Balance of Power—this system of alliances, which I do not renounce, will be my guiding thought at the Peace Conference.” Clemenceau would make some early concessions to the Allies on topic that were not as important to the French with agreements that Clemenceau would be paid back later. This would be the most important aspect of the negotiations for Clemenceau. he would always push for greater reparations, and harsher terms for France’s enemies, but he would always believe that keeping the wartime alliance intact was more important than anything else. This was a sound policy, before the war France had placed much of its hopes in Russia and its ability to be a balance against German aggression, but now with Russia gone France needed new friends. Regardless of what happened during the peace process one fact would remain, Germany would still be there, waiting on France’s eastern border and they would always be a future threat. Because of this Clemenceau would do his best to keep the alliance with Britain and the United States alive after the war. He would say that “nothing must happen which might separate after the war the four Powers that were united during it. To this unity I will make every sacrifice.” Throughout the deliberations the French would often come into a topic with wide ranging demands for territorial and economic changes and benefits for France, especially around topics that related to territories in Western Europe but they were always willing to negotiate with their allies. Unfortunately for the French these compromises would really backfire for them in the long run. At the end of the conference the United States would move back into a policy of strong isolationism and the British would revert to their previous policy of avoiding diplomatic entanglements on the continent. Because of this the French policy of accomodating the allies in the hopes of long lasting security guaranttes would fail which was pretty unfortunate for the French and Clemenceau since they were absolutely correct that Germany would come back later, and with a vengeance. This would be an area that Clemenceau would later be criticized for, putting his faith in the guarantees of his allies, but I’m not sure there was anything else he could have done.

While many french positions were open to compromise, there was one that would never be bargained away and that was the return of Alsace and Lorraine to France. There was not a lot of pushback from the allies about this provision, there was however a suggestion that perhaps there should be a plebiscite held in the two territories to dtermine whether or not they wanted to return to France. When this was suggested the French treated it as sacrilege, Clemenceau was adamant that the French be given Alsace and Lorraine without condition and with full authority to do whatever they wanted, including the expulsion of German immigrants and German businesses if the French desired. This exempted Alsace and Lorraine from many of the safeguards that were put in place elsewhere by decisions made at the Conference where they at least tried to ensure the safety of the minorities in the areas given to certian countries. While Alsace and Lorraine were not really up for discussion there were other territorial questions that the French would be asking and expecting to receive. Coming into the Conference Clemenceau and other French leaders would begin to float the idea of a creation of a buffer state in the Rhineland. This would pull territory away from Germany and create an independent state which would separate the German and French borders. When this would not find any support from the British and Americans Clemenceau would then push for a military presence, a permanent and joint military presence, in the region. Eventually he would get the guarantees that he wanted from his Allies, not that they would end up meaning very much. Another area that the French wanted was the Saar Region, which was the area north of Alsace, it was a lucratice coal and industrial region and the French wanted full control over it. They would not be able to gain this control, but they would be given control for 15 years, after which a plebiscite would be held to determine if it should become a permanent addition to France. At the time the French were very confident that they would win this plebiscite and so they agreed to it, they would have 15 years to win over the populace, a big spoiler here, they would fail. This territorial picking away at Germany would go beyond just areas that were adjacent to France. In the east the French would push for larger territorial concessions to the new nations being created there, including the creation of the Danzig corridor to give Poland access to the Baltic sea. Another much smaller example would be their pus hto give more territory over to Denmark is Schleswig, even more than Denamrk itself wanted. Clemenceau would value every square mile that could be pulled away form Germany, and he would trade french demands elsewhere to achieve it. Much to the consternation of some French leaders Clemenceau would even sacrifice French colonial aspirations and the countries position in the middle east to directly hurt Germany.

The search for the best ways to hurt Germany extended into Eastern Europe as well, and in a pretty gi way. The French were against a union of Germany and Austria, even though there was a good chance that if a plebiscite was allowed to take place in Austria it would have joined Germany. Frances other positions in Eastern Europe revolved around the idea of trying to create some sort of state or group of states that could fulfill the same role that Russia had for France before the war. Clemenceau would push for a strong Poland, Czechoslovakia, and Yugoslavia for this very reason, the hope that if the countries could be made strong then they could be brought into security agreements with France and they would be able to serve the same second front role that the Russians had in 1914. In this way the French would create la Barriere de l’Est, and the hopes of creating it would cause the French to be the biggest supports of the new Eastern nations. This would be the one area that the French would enjoy a lot of support from the British and Americans and because of it those Eastern European nations would have some of the greatest support of any of the countries at the Conference.

Along with the goals for the French that involved territorial exchanges, either directly to France or two their allies there was also another category of French desires one that revoled around the economy and money. Before the war Germany had a larger economy than France, and with the destruction of so much of France’s industrial power in northeastern France that difference would be even larger after the war. Because of this the French position included demands for large economic concessions from Germany including but certainly not limited to large deliveries of coal, chemicals, and industrial goods after the war. This was both part of the reparations, which was a much larger discussion, but also out of a desire to make up for some of the goods that Germany had taken from French territory during the war. The hope was that these deliveries would jumpstart the French economy after the war, once again a desire tied into the believe that a future war with Germany was inevitable and so they French had to get stronger as soon as possible.

While Clemenceau held almost complete power of the French negotiating position, it is worth dicussing the political situation in France because, while it would not really effect the day to day activities of Clemenceau early on during the Conference, by the time that it would be signed, and especially after the treaty was signed it would be very important. Overall French public opinion at the end of 1918 was strongly behind Wilson and his policies, for a variety of reasons. For those on the political right they believed that Wilson’s views were coming around to those of France itself. Even though he still spoke of a justy peace, after a year of fighting the Germans the French people believe that his views would change and his opinions would move much closer to the French idea of a more punishing approach. There was also the generally held belief that the league of nations that Wilson spoke of would be a sort of winner’s club where the Allies would all be invited, acting as a de facto alliance against Germany. On the French left there was the belief that a Wilsonian peace would allow for a lasting peace along internationlist lines, and a more tolerant view on the socialists in Russia. Both sides would then move away from their support of wilson and the Americans when it became clear that Wilson was very much not in agreement with French war aims, and that his implementation of national determination did not go as far as the left hoped. This disillusionment with first the Americans, and then the conference as a whole, would be present in the infal vote tally for the Treaty in the French Chamber of Deputies with it receiving 372 for, 53 against, and 72 abstentions. Still a very heavy majority, but enough negatively to make to make it clear that there were wide swaths of French that were not thrilled with the treaty.

During this episode we have already talked quite a bit about what the French wanted from Germany in terms of territory and in terms of monetary and economic payments, and that will be a huge topic of conversation in some of our later episodes but before we end today I just wanted to focus a bit more on the damages done to France and the tasks that were underway both during and after the war to try and address some of the damage. I think this is an importan way to end our first episode on the Conference because this damage and the efforts to address it were in the background of the conference the whole time that the deliberations were continuing in Paris. With the French grappling with reconstruction it was impossible for it not to have some influence on the events at the conference. In fact one of the first things that the French did when Wilson arrived in Paris was to send him on a tour of the battlefields both to show him the scale of the fighting but more importantly the scale of the damage done to France. As I mentioned earlier 6,000 square miles of France were destroyed during the war, but within these areas there were gradiations on how much damage was done. As soon as the armistice was signed and the German army began to retreat the task of trying to catalog all the damage began. Surveyors were sent out by the French government and eventually a map was created that categorized the damaged areas into three different groups. The first was termed blue zones, which were about 50% of the total area. These were damaged but in a very limited fashion. Overall they were often away from the front line and it was believed that these areas could be put under the care of local governments and they could handle it with little more than some financial support from Paris. The second category was the Yello zone, which was about 45% of the total area. In these areas there were serious and sustained work that was needed, but restoration could still happen. In this category was most of the old front lines and their immediate surroundings, the stuff that was really churned up by artillery. The final category was Red Zone, or Zone Rouge which were areas that the French just sort of wrote off because the devastation was so great that the costs of restoration was believed to be too great when combared with the economic benefit of the land. These Zone Rouge areas are usually still categorized as off limits even today and articles describing them seem to circle their way around social media every few months. The most famous of these areas is around Verdun, which were areas that were generally just forests before the war and they were just sort of left to return to that state, with some added nastiness from the war. The restoration work of the other areas was put under hte control of the Service des Travaux de Premiere Urgence, or the STPU, in early 1919. This group would organize the labor and direct the most important work of restoration of the land. Some of its early tasks were simple things like removing artillery shells, filling in shell holes and trenches, removing debris, and repairing some damaged buildings and infrastructure. Through the efforts of the STPU and the workers that it employed a huge majority of the damaged agricultural land of France would be reclaimed for the 1919 harvest, although full reconstruction would of course take much longer.

While huge gains were made in a short time in terms of reclaiming agricultural land, when it came to repairing buildings and villages it was a very different story. There were many discussions that were had and decisions that had ot be made about the houses and the villages that had been destroyed by the war. The core of these decisions was around the question of how the villages should be rebuilt, should they just be rebuilt exactly as before or should they be reimagined. It was generally cheaper and reasier to just completely reimagine the villages and surrounding lands, but of course the local inhabitants often wanted the areas returned to their previous states. In most cases the latter argument won the day and most villages would be rebuilt mostly along their previous lines, with perhaps some street widening and some building consolidation. Finding the funds and resources to carry out this construction was a challenge, and while the agricultural land was quickly resotred to its previous productiviey it would be well into the 1920s before serious work on village reconstruction would begin. This mindset of reconstruction, and its costs, would be the backdrop for the deliberations in Paris. Next episode we will discuss the British delegration and their goals for the conference before diving into our first big topic, national determination. Which would play a huge role in many conversations during the conference. The problem was that for something that was so important they often had quite a bit of difficulty determining exactly what it meant.