Versailles #64: OTD 7th May 1919 - Moment of Truth


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On this day 100 years ago, the Germans were finally presented with the treaty had been under construction for nearly five full months. What would they think of it? That remained to be seen, but in the process of handing this treaty to them, the German delegation, represented by Ulrich von Brockdorff-Rantzau, would be given a chance to speak while seated, before the entirety of the plenary conference on afternoon of 7th May 1919. It was a scene which the allies had never expected to behold, but as soon as the German foreign minister began talking, two things were clear.

First, despite the fact that they hadn't got the treaty in their hot little hands, the Germans had tapped into the rumours which were swirling around, and they hadn't liked at all what they had gathered. Second, and arguably more importantly though, the spectre of the German foreign minister defying the allies and their treaty went down like a lead balloon. Brockdorff-Rantzau's performance, while in content was not explosive, in style it was positively volcanic, and it shaped the attitudes of the big three towards the Germans more than ever before. If they had forgotten who the real enemy was, this scene served better than anything as a grim reminder of the task ahead.


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