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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The Paris Peace Conference without the Bolshevik threat Cooper, Susan Leslie

Abstract

Arno J. Mayer became established as an authority on Peace Conference history with the 1967 publication of his sweeping class-based analysis, “Politics and Diplomacy of Peacemaking: Containment and Counterrevolution at Versailles”, 1918-1919. In it he maintains that the peacemakers who were gathered in Paris to settle accounts after the Great War were influenced more by the appearance of Bolshevism than by any other single factor. According to Mayer, the statesmen reacted to a threat from the Left that had been given momentum by Lenin's success in Russia. His panoramic view of class struggle across Europe and America, which likely seemed so apropos in the 1960s, has unfortunately obscured many of the opinions of the men who were actually there. This thesis is an investigation into the opinions of those men as revealed by a selection of primary source documents and as supported by appropriate secondary source material. The official and the personal records kept by the delegates who attended Versailles, reveal men who were not particularly concerned about the establishment of Bolshevism in Russia. The records clearly establish that the leading statesmen of the day, including David Lloyd George and Woodrow Wilson, were not apprehensive about and did not feel threatened by either Lenin or the Hungarian Bolshevik, Bela Kun. There is ample evidence to show that in 1919 the peacemakers and their contemporaries felt that Bolshevism in Russia was only a temporary phenomenon in that country's development toward liberal democracy. While Bolshevism did not overly concern the Allied leaders, issues such as reparations to be charged to Germany, formation of a League of Nations, and their respective places in the postwar world certainly did concern them. Arno Mayer's claim that i t "was symptomatic of the entire Peace Conference that the specter of Bolshevism significantly impinged on the deliberations of both opening sessions," (Mayer, 411) is not defensible on the basis of the documents and the memoirs left by the peacemakers themselves.

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