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Among the Many Poles: Paderewski and Dmowski

January 5,1919

For days now we have been simply deluged with Polish delegations. They have come in ever-increasing numbers not only from Cracow and Chicago, where Poles thrive, but they have come from all the four corners of the earth. Each claims to be the only simon-pure committee duly authorized to represent Polonia Restituta.

The Polish National Committee, seated here in a palace of one of the great territorial lords long in exile but not in want, has been formally recognized by the French government, but unfortunately Pilsudski [Iater (1920) elected chief of state and first marshal of Poland] is in control in Warsaw and in many other districts. He fought the Allied liberating forces of democracy for the first years of the war until his eyes were opened, and then his former friends, the German-Austrians, threw him into prison. He does not seem to be on good terms with the National Committee. As a matter of fact, I should say he is on the worst possible terms with its members in fact everybody is on bad terms with everyone else. All apparently are exercising the liberum veto which brought low the Polish state in the olden days. As I sit and listen to the uproar, I recall an old German saying I heard so often in my student days. It is to the effect that wherever four Poles are gathered together, at least five opinions are held and loudly expressed. I am forced to admit that this is a true word.

When I say, as ingratiatingly as possible, to the visiting Poles: "Of course, you must bear in mind that the Supreme War Council has. decided that Poland, like Rumania and Czechoslovakia, powers with special interests, can only be represented by two delegates," they say, "Of course, we understand. While we are all delegates we shall not expect, not all of us, to sit at the Round Table; many of us will be content to act as historians, as theologians, and as advisers to the delegation."

But when we get down to details, the result is a riot. Every delegation demands precedence and priority the credentials to sustain these claims would fill, and probably by dead weight sink, an ocean steamer. The Allies acclaim Paderewski, and he is the choice of the National Committee here; but in Poland, those who have survived the devastating years of war seem to be enamored of Pilsudski. One of his delegates is a doctor from Zacopane in the High Tatra, and he is very tired. In coming here he has traveled for twelve long days in a small railway carriage meant for six but filled with his advisers to the number of ten.

"Twelve long days we traveled packed like sardines," he says. And then as an afterthought he adds: "Twelve long days, each day with its respective night." A graphic phrase that has traveled in conference circles like wildfire and enriched our vocabulary.

And the little doctor has another grievance. In almost every hour of these long days and nights, so he says, the slowmoving and wandering train from Poland was held up and sidetracked to make way for gala trains, festooned with floral wreathes and crowded, but not overcrowded, with Red Cross girls and nurses. He says they were lolling back in armchairs and drinking beer out of foaming beakers. I did my best for the girls, describing how hard they had worked; and he finally agreed, did the little doctor from Zacopane, that they deserved a holiday and he did not grudge it to them.

From afar the Colonel surveyed this counterfeit presentment of what the Polish Parliament had been in the olden days, and then he reached a decision which unfortunately involved me. "This is a situation that must be handled sternly but with soft gloves, if you can. All the Poles must be summoned to come to my office tomorrow morning. I will not be there; you must take my place. This is the ultimatum that you must deliver to them: 'Poland will be allotted two delegates - no more. They must fight it our among themselves as to the choice, but no one will be admitted unless all the delegates agree to his selection. There must be no more of the liberum veto which, as all historians agree, killed independent Poland in other days. If an agreement cannot be reached, then Poland cannot be represented in the Council of Nations, which would be too bad."

Of course the strategy was the Colonel's. Only the tactics by which it was to be executed were entrusted to my clumsy hands. The Poles came at the appointed hour to the number of thirty and, after a little speech, I led them to the smaller conference salle on the third floor designated for the meeting. Unfortunately, the dignity of the proceedings was marred by a little incident for which our inexperienced room clerk, a hard-boiled quartermaster captain, was entirely responsible. What a man he was for giving you wrong numbers!

"It s room 360," he said tersely. But when we got there, the door was locked and while I knocked and knocked the long line of far from harmonious Poles waited with growing impatience. At last, in response to my increasingly angry calls, the door was opened and there stood before us a man who had just sprung from a disheveled bed. But no one had eyes for the bed; the man who opened the door was simply clothed in a union suit of flamingo red. He wanted to know what we meant by waking him up at ten in the morning. He had been up all night straightening out the telephone situation. He was, he admitted, Colonel Carty, known from coast to coast as the "Telephone Wizard."

Another appeal to the military room clerk who did not keep his books up-to-date finally straightened things out. We located the conference room and into it I shoved the innumerable delegates. But I did not lock the door - escape must be possible. And, of course, I recognized I might have to rush in at any moment with a police squad. Then I made a little speech, clothing the Colonel's brilliant idea with my drab words. They must get together. They must all agree upon the choice of two delegates - or else . . . and then I went.

I came back in an hour. The hubbub in the conference room was terrible. I did not even knock. I listened for a moment outside and went away. An hour later I came back. The uproar was still deafening. When I came back at the end of the third hour, a holy calm seemed to have settled over the place. At first I thought they were all dead. Timidly I opened the door and heard these words:

"We have reached complete agreement," they said in chorus. "St. Michael and all the angels have guided us. By common accord, we have chosen Paderewski and Dmowski as our delegates. All the Poles will stand behind these distinguished men; we are grateful to Colonel House for showing us the way to agreement."

It seemed to me that we had reached a happy and almost miraculous settlement, but Colonel Carty was never reconciled to it. We suspected him of jangling our telephone service throughout the following months. He was particularly bitter against me. He never forgave me for presenting him to the Polish delegates while wearing a flamingo-red union suit; at least that was the way in which he described the incident.

[During the war years Paderewski kept in close contact with President Wilson and Colonel House. It is generally believed that the President s announcement on January 22, 1917, that "a united, independent, and autonomous Poland was a democratic war aim and necessary to world peace" was inspired by him. Immediately after the Armistice Paderewski visited London and Paris and then proceeded to Poland via Danzig where he arrived on December 24, 1918. After a narrow escape from assassination he formed a coalition ministry and as prime minister also held the portfolio of Foreign Affairs. As such he was able to secure the official recognition of the new republic, and on April 6, 1919, he returned to Paris to sit in the Peace Conference. He was not entirely successful in harmonizing the several political groups among his countrymen, and his failure to adjust matters with Soviet Russia and his want of success in the problem of Silesia weakened his position. In November, 1919, he resigned and the Pilsudski groups came into full control. He continued, however, to represent his country before the Council of Ambassadors and the League of Nations until 1921, when he returned to the United States and, as the world s greatest pianist, succeeded in paying off the huge debts he had assumed in his many campaigns to secure the liberation of his people inside and outside his native land. Unfortunately this gallant and most gifted of men survived to witness the destruction (1940) of the Poland of which he was the outstanding founding father.]

January 24, 1919

Roman Dmowski came to lunch today arid we had an interesting hour talking about our previous meetings in this turbulent world. First in Tokyo (1904), later (1906) in the city of the Tsars, that protean capital that has changed its name so often in the last decade. But Dmowski has sojourned in what we "old Russians" must now learn to call Leningrad through all its evolutions and transformations. He speaks Russian so well that he could easily pass as a simon-pure Russki, but I have much reason to believe that he would kill me if he knew I confided this truthful statement even to the pages of my locked diary.

Our first contact was in Japan while the war which upset the balance of power in the Far East was raging. He came ostensibly as an agent of the Polish Red Cross. He was flanked by two priests, and the announced purpose of their mission was to give spiritual and physical comfort to the very numerous prisoners the Japanese had taken. As a matter of fact (of course the Tokyo government had not the slightest objection to this), he and his priestly colleagues did everything they could to sap the loyalty of the Poles and to prevent them from returning to their Russian regiments except perhaps for the purpose of spreading "dangerous thoughts."

Our next meeting was in St. Petersburg in 1906, during the stormy sessions of the Second Duma. Dmowski was the chairman of the bloc that represented Poland in this motley assembly. He was rarely given a chance to speak his mind, not merely because he was a Pole but because of his well-known anti-Russian activities in Japan. But underground Dmowski was busy, very busy indeed.

After the séance in which by shirtsleeved diplomacy of the most outrageous description I reduced the Polish National Committees of thirty to a modest delegation of two, I am rather timid in approaching the Poles who were left out of the conference. But the two who were chosen, Paderewski and Dmowski, are my very good friends. Like all Poles I have met down to the present, Dmowski foams at the mouth when you mention the Soviets, but unlike most of his compatriots he knows what he is talking about because he was in Russia writing articles for a Cracow paper when the Red Dawn came. During these exciting days he had many amusing contacts with what he calls very fairly the "sub-leaders" of the Revolution, who were in it for what it might be worth to them, and today he told me of a conversation with one of them, which Dmowski thinks is very significant.

"You who know," he had asked, "take me by the hand and tell me what is the objective of the Social Revolution? And further tell me what this stagnant and shabby old world will look like when you have realized your purpose?"

The "sub-leader" was stumped for a moment. "It is difficult to explain to those whose eyes have not been opened," he stammered; then suddenly he became voluble. "You see that man over there smothered in sables, sneaking down that side street with apologetic steps?" "Yes." Well, he is a bourgeois and I am a proletarian. But when we have achieved our purpose I will wear a sable coat and look like a bourgeois. With three good meals a day my belly will expand enormously and it will take a lot of sable skins to cover it. And then I shall look like a bourgeois." "And the man now wearing the sables, who is sneaking down the side street?" "Well, if he survives he will be a proletarian. And if he works hard he may wear a cotton tunic."

I may be mistaken, but if Dmowski fashions the new Poland which is coming into the world with so many birth pains today a lot of people will be wearing cotton tunics, summer and winter. It seems to me that the nation he envisages is the old Poland with its manor farms stretching from the Baltic to the Black Sea owned by gallant knights and beautiful ladies who travel to Cannes in winter and to Baden-Baden in summer. Who have expensive tastes that make it necessary for their serfs at home to work hard very hard indeed.

January 3,1919

Today, not for the first time, the Colonel turned Dmowski over to me for a talk on the tangled affairs of Poland. He stayed with me over an hour, and I trust the words he poured out and the facts that I extracted from him will prove helpful. He speaks equally well in French or English, as I learned when last year Smulski, the Chicago Polish leader, brought him to see me at the War College (Washington). Dmowski is regarded by many as in large measure responsible for the anti-Jewish feeling so noticeable among the great majority of the Poles, and indeed it was upon this subject I was told to "feel" him out.

Dmowski took it very well and, so it seemed to me at least, talked quite rationally upon the thorny subject. It is to be hoped that when he achieves power [he became minister of foreign affairs briefly in 1923] he will act in the same reasonable way. He points out, however, that there are distinctive features in the Jewish problem of Poland which are not met with in other countries. To begin with he asserts that the Ostjuden (Eastern Jews) are a peculiar, a most peculiar, clan and that their activities and characteristics are very trying to those who must live in daily contact with them. "We have in Poland more than one quarter of all the Jews of the world. They form 10 per cent of our population, and in my judgment this is at least 8 per cent too much. When there is only a small group of Jews in our villages, even when they are grasping storekeepers or avaricious money lenders, as they often are, everything moves along smoothly; but when more come, and they generally do come, there is trouble and at times small pogroms.

"We have too many Jews, and those who will be allowed to remain with us must change their habits; and of course I recognize that this will be difficult and will take time. The Jew must produce and not remain devoted exclusively to what we regard as parasitical pursuits. Unless restrictions are imposed upon them soon, all our lawyers, doctors, and small merchants will be Jews. They must turn to agriculture, and they must at least share small business and retail stores with their Polish neighbors. I readily admit that there is some basis in the Jewish contention that in days past it was difficult for them to own land or even to work the fields of others as tenants; that they were often compelled by circumstances beyond their control to gain their livelihood in ways which are hurtful to Polish economy. Under our new constitution all this will be changed, and for their own good I hope the Jews will avail themselves of their new opportunities. I say this in their own interest as well as in the interest of restored Poland. Now, and I fear for decades to come, Poland will be too poor to permit one tenth of its population to engage in pursuits which to say the least are not productive."

I was struck with the great similarity between the views of the Polish leader and those which Count Tolstoi expressed to me during the Russian revolution of 1905 - 1906 on the occasion of my visit to Yasnaya Poliana. The subject came up in my answer to the philosopher s many questions as to how our "melting pot" was working in the great urban centers of America. Quoting a newspaper article, I mentioned that in New York alone there were nearly a million Jews (at this time - 1906), and Tolstoi made no effort to conceal his surprise but changed the subject. On the following morning, however, he returned to the problem which it was clear interested him enormously. "You must not assume from my silence yesterday that I cherish anti-Semitic views. The contrary is the case. I do think, however, that it is unfortunate for a community to number in its population more than 2 per cent of Jews."

I reported Dmowski's views verbally to the Colonel and at his request I put them in writing. His comment was, "I am sure the Poles will try to do the fair thing, but it will be a long time before these religious and racial animosities subside. I agree with the President that before the Poles receive the charter of their independence they must make an iron-clad pledge to give fair and equal treatment to religious as well as racial minorities."

My Colonel is a constant reader and, with some reserves, a great admirer of Francis Bacon, the statesman-philosopher. In his library in Texas he has scores of volumes that this wise man of the world wrote and several hundred dealing with the discussions which he provoked. He would not have us follow in Bacon's footsteps, but when in doubt and perplexity, he says he finds consolation and encouragement in this reading.

"Bacon furnishes a yardstick by which we can measure the progress this old world, so often disappointing, has made. In his study of the `Vicissitudes of Things,' as he calls it, he wrote: 'And the greatest vicissitude amongst men is the vicissitude of sects and religions. If Dmowski is truly representative of his people, Bacon's words apply to Poland-about-to-be-redeemed as truly as they did to the world in which Bacon lived. But how encouraging, how refreshing to us - yes, the world does move - is the incident that happened in Brest last week."

I certainly had not forgotten it, as the incident, telephonically at least, had disturbed and delayed my desk work for several days. It developed down there that Bishop Brent, the chief of the corps of chaplains, had been advised by some troublemaker that a large American army unit at the French naval base, while 90 per cent Protestants and 10 per cent Jews with only two Roman Catholics in their midst, was having souls cared for by a Roman Catholic priest. He transferred this priest to a Romish congregation and selected a Protestant sky pilot to take his place. Then the riot broke loose. The doughboys were indignant and they demonstrated their indignation in a way that would have been regarded as mutinous were we still on a war footing. They marched in serried columns to their colonel, shouting the while, Protestant and Jew alike, "We want our Padre. We must have him back. We do not want any sky pilot but him."

The Colonel had all the papers dealing with the incident on his desk "and I am going to keep them there. Dmowski is coming to lunch on Monday and I shall show them to him. I think I have the right, indeed the duty, to do this because in the list of the soldiers who signed the demand for the return of the beloved Padre are at least twenty whose names are distinctly Polish. They had lived in America. They, at least, were `redeemed.' "

May 10, 1919

Yesterday another problem, long regarded as of but little importance, has raised its ugly head. It concerns Silesia or Upper Silesia and what its sovereignty is to be in the New Europe. Both Clemenceau and Tardieu were in this morning and had a long talk with my Colonel at which I assisted.

"Our generals have convinced me," said the Tiger, "that the German grab of Silesia is the first move in the rearmament of Germany, and that another invasion of France will come in five or ten years, perhaps a little sooner, perhaps a little later, but come it will. Our experts and most of the others are in agreement that the disputed territory belongs to Poland despite the fact that large colonies of Germans have been brought in and by strong-armed methods given possession of perhaps most of the small farms. Important as this is, more important still is the fact that if Berlin is given control of these ore regions the rearmament of our truculent enemy will be greatly facilitated."

Here Tardieu interpolated with: "General Weygand says we can with but little difficulty, keep a wary eye on the Ruhr, that near-by industrial and potential rearmament center, but it is a far cry to Silesia, and out there it would not be difficult to veil preparations for a renewal of the war, and there unfortunately is to be found everything necessary to the rearmament of the Barbarians we have only brought to heel after four years of costly war."

When they had left, Colonel House told me that in this matter Lloyd George is making difficulties. He insists upon a plebiscite, at least in Upper Silesia, where even the Poles admit that the German settlers who have been planted there are probably in a majority. House went on to say, "Lloyd George told me only three days ago that he was informed on the best authority that the Germans would not sign the Treaty unless as in other disputed provinces sovereignty had been decided by a plebiscite. If this injustice is done the Germans, we too may not see our way to accepting the Treaty or at best we may be compelled to show our dissent with a formal reservation."

House is greatly worried over this problem and has debated it quite frequently with the "Governor," as he calls the President. Confronted as he is with this decision, he fears that Wilson will accept the plebiscite. "He recognizes as clearly as I do that he may be making a considerable sacrifice, but he feels he must resign himself to it to save the Covenant, for of course if Britain draws back all will be lost. I hope the Governor is right in his belief that once the war psychosis is abated the Covenant will work the wonders that are beyond its powers today." Then with a sigh he added, "Britain does not want a France too strong or a Germany too weak. That is the lesson of the balance-of-power policy; but I question the wisdom of this concession. Our of the ore fields of Silesia may be fashioned the weapons of the next world war."

May 4,1919

In our walk today through the Tuileries gardens Colonel House said the Big Four are as far apart as the Poles on the knotty question of what to do with Upper Silesia. Then he added, "I want you to tell me more fully your thought on this question."

I told him that as far as Upper Silesia was concerned I had little personal experience but I had secured a great deal regarding the efforts and the methods of the Berlin government, acting under the instigation of the great territorial lords, to Germanize Posen, West Prussia, and other districts where it was desired to get rid of large Polish populations. During 1889, and again in the following year, I had visited many of these districts as a special correspondent of the New York Herald and had reported fairly and fully what I saw. Large sums were voted by the Reichstag to swing the forced sales of farms long held by Poles and to launch land banks whose only business was to bring in German settlers from other districts, at great expense to the imperial treasury, and above all to expel the unfortunate Poles, bag and baggage.

"Of course the Great Four know little or nothing of those highhanded proceedings," I argued, "or of those ruthless mass expulsions; and being ignorant of the antecedent circumstances, the idea of a plebiscite may appeal to them; but as a matter of fact if put into effect in the districts where the German land-robbers have been successful, it would give the sanction of law and a general amnesty to as highhanded an act of oppression as was ever enforced by a supposedly civilized people." I did not conceal the fact that there was at least one pleasant feature in the ugly episode, and that is that in many districts the Poles have held fast. The German settlers, brought in at great expense, have proved shiftless, with the result that the imperial treasury is in the red for at least one hundred million dollars and the Prussian treasury even more the only lasting result of this inhuman crusade that failed.

The Colonel asked me to draw up a memo to be submitted to the President setting forth what I had actually seen in the contested districts; also copies of the legislation under which the Disconto Bank of Berlin and its local agencies acted. This I was able to do the following day.

I was indeed glad to have had an opportunity to testify to what I am sure from personal observation is the true situation. Lloyd George, however, still insists upon the plebiscite and Clemenceau opposes it. Mr. Wilson would as always like to see justice done, but he does nor want the Conference to come to grief over the Polish problem, important as it is. Clemenceau demands that Paderewski and Dmowski be heard on this vital question. They certainly should be.

[Some days later Paderewski and Dmowski were heard but not listened to, and subsequently the plebiscite was agreed to. Many months elapsed before the Supreme War Council ventured to carry out the plan in view of the disturbed conditions that prevailed, for which the Germans were almost exclusively responsible. In some districts the Poles were successful and in others the Germans. In many districts where the latter were successful it was the new settlers brought in in the manner I have described who carried the day.

These districts of mixed population presented undoubtedly a very thorny problem, but in this instance the ends of justice were most certainly not attained.]

May 13, 1919

This is a black day for the Poles; for France; perhaps for all of us. Most reluctantly, it is true, but all the same the President is about to yield to the demand of Lloyd George that a plebiscite be held to settle the Upper Silesia dispute. Both Clemenceau and Tardieu have frankly admitted to House that as a result of the way in which for the last thirty years the Germans have planted colonists in the disputed region they would not be surprised if the vote revealed a German majority. Clemenceau adds with his usual emphasis: "If the plebiscite turns out this way you will be giving legal sanction to a ruthless crime. He has frequently pointed our that it would not be difficult for France to keep an eye upon what the Germans may do to prepare for their war of revanche - in the Ruhr at least. But not in faraway Silesia, "that is beyond our ken and yet that contains all the ores that our aggressive neighbors would need for rearmament. If the Germans cannot abide Polish sovereignty, they should be returned to the regions from which they came."

These are the arguments Lloyd George advances in favor of the vote: the Germans will not sign the Treaty unless the doctrine of self-determination is honored in Silesia, as elsewhere, and he adds that if in this matter the Germans are discriminated against there will be an uproar in Parliament and perhaps he could only sign with reservations.

To save the Treaty, but with unconcealed regret and many misgivings, the President has decided to accept the plebiscite. He admits quite frankly that he is constrained to make a most unwelcome sacrifice, but he says: "At least, House, we are saving the Covenant, and that instrument will work wonders, bring the blessing of peace, and then when the war psychosis has abated, it will not be difficult to settle all the disputes that baffle us now."

House deeply regrets this decision. He considers it the most sinister of all the concessions that have been forced upon the President - to save the Treaty and above all the Covenant. He agrees with the French that in Silesia the Germans will find all the ores that would be needed to rearm and wage another aggressive war.

April 20, 1919

Late last evening I was sent to the rue Franklin by my Colonel to show some papers to M. Clemenceau. They did not detain us long, and then as the bullet near his lung was preventing him from sleeping he asked me to stay and talk. How he loves to talk, and how natural that he should. He talks superbly. Tonight, however, the Tiger's thoughts were not on the present. He was in a reminiscent, or perhaps I should say in a reflective, mood. At first he talked about the Poles; then the small farmers in the Vendée, and above all about the peasants of Picardy - all very near and dear to him. What he wanted to say ran on about in this way:

"Klotz, that merciless collector of taxes [he is minister of finance in the Clemenceau cabinet] says I am too lenient with the peasants; that I will never approve of his budgets unless it is soft to them. Ma foi, for once Klotz is right. Our peasants have paid the heaviest taxes, by pouring without measure their precious blood on all the fronts, and I ll not let that terrible Klotz extract the last piece of money from their nearly empty woolen socks as he is always trying to do. As long as I live I ll not let him do it. 'Cook some more fat out of your greasy bourgeois, I tell him. But he hates to do that. You see, birds of a feather flock together.

"And there's Jules Cambon. He says I take a much too romantic view of the Poles. He likes them all right, but he says that they are our for a sharp bargain in Silesia and everywhere else. How natural that is when you recall what they have suffered, what has been done to them in the past. Perhaps he is right. Perhaps not all the Polish claims can be justified by Holy Writ, but I answer shortly, whose can?

"Perhaps I am lenient to the Poles because they opened up to me the world of romance the only real thing in life. The Poles also introduced me to the pursuit of politics. It has often proved disappointing, but if I had my life to live over again (God forbid!), I would not swerve from my predestined path."

"When I was a boy in Nantes the old seaport was filled with Polish refugees, men who had escaped the ruthless suppression of some uprising at the hands of the Great "Red" Tsar (for believe me there never was a Great "White" Tsar except in poetry). They had lost everything but their hopes and their high spirits, and of course I played hookey from school and sat with them in the taverns. They had little to eat and nothing to drink, and most of them were trying to smuggle themselves on board ships and go to your land, the land of promise where at least they could survive - until the next revolution. Wonderful fellows they were, sustained solely by inner fires and unquenchable hopes. I sat at their feet reverently, and they told me all about the Polish Parliament in the happy days before the Partition and before the invaders came: What a splendid sight it must have been - at least as they described it to me. Each member came to the sessions on horseback. They remained in their saddles and only mounted men were permitted to enter the debates. From that very day I decided to be a parliamentarian and come to some future Diet mounted. I do not have to tell you what a sad moment it was, when at last, by the will of our people, I came to the Palais Bourbon - I sat in a horse-drawn cab. That was the first but by no means the least bitter of my experiences in politics."

"Yes, I have a long memory. It certainly goes back farther than most men here but not as far back as at times Mr. Wilson thinks. Several weeks ago he asked me for information about the battles that were fought long ago on the 'ringing plains of windy Troy, but I brought him back to Poland. What a lot he does not know about that proud tenacious people. In this matter it seems to me he is ensnared by the flood of words which flows from Lloyd George, that tireless spinner of words - the kind that leave no trace, not even upon the memory of the speaker."

"I tell Wilson that mines of gold or of coal are of little importance; that legions of soldiers come and go, but that the unflagging sentiment for freedom and independence is what should be regarded, and that the Poles have it in a superlative degree. He comes to our talks with kilos of statistics under which our council table groans audibly, but I tell him it is the spirit that counts, not business ledgers - and I know I am right. This struggle with the Germans has been going on for nine hundred years, and unless we give the Poles defensible boundaries it will go on for centuries, indeed until the end of time."

[1941. Well, Poland was not given defensible boundaries. Lloyd George won out, and the seeds of World War II were sown. Mr. Wilson made another sacrifice to secure his League. Danzig was not given to Poland and the unworkable corridor was invented. The intricate solution of Danzig as a Free City with special port rights to Poland only led to friction until at last racial hatred burst out into the flame of a new world war, as Clemenceau the realist had said it would.]

After a short pause M. Clemenceau continued. "I do not have to tell you who have sojourned so long in what we call euphemistically the 'troubled zones,' but I tell Wilson every day and I shall keep on telling him the stark disagreeable truth in the hope that it will at last sink in."

Now suddenly he switched to American (he had been talking French), and very American his words were. "I say, 'Mr. President you must not forget, not for a moment, that we Europeans are a tough bunch. Then I explain, 'Please do not misunderstand me. We too came into the world with the noble instincts and the lofty aspirations which you express so often and so eloquently. We have become what we are because we have been shaped by the rough hand of the world in which we have had to live and we have survived only because we are a tough bunch. Please do not misunderstand me, Mr. President; had our life lines been cast in the pleasant places across the Atlantic, we too, I believe, would have developed and clung to the noble qualities which you, Mr. President, assume is the universal heritage of man. I do not think we are very different, except in our experiences. After all, you are Europeans too, but you have been translated to pleasant pastures and above all you have had elbow room in a land of plenty. Yours has been the best of all possible worlds, but there are signs and portents, and it should be clear that your happy, your privileged position, will not endure forever.' "

Then, after another short pause, M. Clemenceau went on. "When I talk this way you must not think for a moment I do not appreciate what you have done for us and the losses in men and money that you have sustained. Your intervention has cost you dear, and that I do appreciate. It is one of the reasons why I do not want it all to have been expended in vain. I am grateful because your intervention saved France from disaster and my gray hairs from defeat, and yet, and yet I cannot close my eyes to the fact that before the Treaty is signed and the overthrow of Germany as a military power is accomplished you are going home. Pershing is proud of the thousands of brave boys he is sending back every week, and Lloyd George, though he has joined me in my protest to Wilson against this precipitate step, is doing the same thing but of course he is doing it on the sly. In view of the speed with which our armies are vanishing, the sluggishness and the bad faith the Germans are displaying in the process of disarmament to which they are pledged, for once I find myself in agreement with Foch when he says that if this disintegrating process is allowed to continue for a few weeks more, the German barbarians will once again be supreme in Europe just as they were before you came in."

Here I interrupted with, "But even before we entered the war and came millions strong across the seas you were confident of success, you at least never despaired of victory. When the darkest hour came for France and the responsibility was turned over to you by the men who had failed, you said even if you had to stand alone you had no fear of the outcome."

"Of course I said that, my dear friend. But that was policy, politics, what will you. I said in that dark moment - I recall my very words - 'We shall fight before Paris. We shall fight in Paris. And then if we are pushed south, we shall fight with our backs to the wall of the Pyrenees.' And I meant that, and the best of my countrymen were with me heart and soul. But I had no hope of success until you came. A cunning, crafty enemy had caught us napping. I merely meant by my words, and how sincerely I meant them, that while our defeat was inevitable it would be a glorious defeat; we would go down fighting to the last; our children would not be ashamed of their fathers."

"I have differed from Mr. Wilson. Our viewpoints are so wide apart and at times our interests seem to clash, but these differences are not irreconcilable. They can be adjusted, 'ironed our, as your wise Colonel so wisely says. Mr. Wilson dreams of a world which can only be indulged in if you are many thousand miles away from the Rhine, and perhaps even then you cannot indulge yourself in it with impunity."

"Tonight I am depressed. I fear we shall never attain the world situation that Mr. Wilson seeks unless I can bring him to see the world as it is today. It is upon that we must build and nor upon the stuff that beautiful dreams are made of. Wilson is blind to the actual situation, and our negotiations will fail unless he can be brought to realize that we Europeans are a tough bunch and that our problems will have to be handled with gauntlets of iron. Soft kid gloves will get us nowhere."

I repeated to my Colonel what Clemenceau had said, as he had asked me to, on the following day, and he was deeply impressed. He saw great danger in the Rhine agreement which was then being trotted out as a consolation prize for the French, a concession which would help Clemenceau to get the unsatisfactory treaty through the Chamber of Deputies. But as to our Senate, the Colonel was quite confident it would not accept this long-termed obligation. He said, 'Today I am haunted by an opinion which John Morley, at once a realist and an idealist, expressed to me some years ago. He said, 'I often think that the world turmoil in which we are all involved is not due to the realists but to the tireless and often thoughtless activities of those unyielding people I call perfectibilitarians.'

"Well, our job here is to achieve a working agreement between the idealists and the realists. A hard job in any event, even if, as the Tiger says - and he knows - these Europeans were not such a tough bunch."

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