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Conference Dateline






Grand Trianon
Overview of the Grand Trianon Palace at Versailles.  Photo  Credit
 
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4 October 1918 The German and Austrian governments sent appeals to President Wilson, indirectly through Swiss representatives, seeking to begin armistice negotiations aimed at ending the war on the basis of Wilson's Fourteen Points.
30 October 1918 The Armistice of Mondros (Moudhros) was signed at Lemnos Island, a Greek island in the Aegean Sea.  This brought an end to the war for the Ottoman Empire.
3 November 1918 The Armistice of Villa Giusti was signed at the headquarters of the Italian army, with terms of the armistice taking effect twenty-four hours later.  This ended the war between Italy and Austria-Hungary.  The complete text of the Armistizio di Villa Giusti is available.
3 November 1919 Mutiny of German sailors at Kiel as the sailors refused to take part in one last naval operation by the German navy.
4 November 1918 The Supreme War Council finished the terms of the armistice, and Wilson was instructed to contact the Germans.
5 November 1918 The Allies agreed "to make peace with the Government of Germany on the terms of peace laid down in the President's address to Congress of January, 1918, and the principles of settlement enunciated in his subsequent addresses."  Wilson sent the note to the Germans and Marshal Ferdinand Foch became responsible for the final armistice negotiations.
7 November 1918 Revolt in Munich, Germany
7 November 1918 In the afternoon, the first German delegation makes contact with the Allies.
8 November 1918 At 7 am in the morning, the Germans reached the Forêt de Compiègne in the region of Picardy in Northern France.  Mathias Erzberger, leader of the German Center Party, led the German delegation who met with marshal Foch in his railway car.  The Allies submitted rather harsh terms--although Foch did modify some points--which were non-negotiable and which were to be in force for thirty days.  The Germans were given 72 hours to accept, and there was to be no discussion.  Although the Germans were alarmed at the severity of the terms, they had little choice but to agree.
9 November 1918 Kaiser Wilhelm II abdicated as king of Germany and fled Germany for the Netherlands.   He did not officially abdicate his imperial throne until 28 April 1919.
11 November 1918 The armistice was signed at 5:10 am in Foch's railway car.  At 11 am the war was over on the Western Front.  The Armistice did not really apply on the Eastern front where Germany remained at war with Russia and the Bolshevik regime there.
18 November 1918 President Woodrow Wilson announced that he planned to attend the peace conference in Paris.  Republican Senators were not happy.  Furthermore, Republicans were not happy that Wilson chose only one Republican as part of the U.S. Peace Commission (Henry White), who was not a Senator.
4 December 1918 Woodrow Wilson set sail for the Paris Peace conference.
13 December 1918 President Wilson landed in Brest, France to a huge celebration.  This was a "Friday the 13th," but Wilson considered 13 a lucky number since there were 13 letters in his name.  Wilson had sailed on the S.S. George Washington, a former German luxury ocean liner that had been interned by the United States at the start of the war and then later taken over by the U.S. Navy for use as a troopship.  Accompanying Wilson was the Peace Commission consisting of Colonel Edward House, Secretary of State Robert Lansing, General Tasker Bliss and Henry White).  Wilson visited both London and Rome before the peace conference actually began.
18 January 1919 The Peace Conference formally opened in Paris.  Seventy delegates representing 27 countries attended, but there were no representatives from the defeated countries (Germany, Austria, Bulgaria, Hungary and Turkey). The date was chosen by the French as the start of the conference because it was on that date that the French had surrendered to Germany in 1871.
19 February 1919 French Prime Minister Georges Clemenceau, aka "Le Tigre" (the Tiger),  was shot in an attempted assassination attempt by Emile Cottin, an anarchist, who fired multiple shots at Clemenceau.
24 February 1919 President Wilson arrived in Boston to face critics of the peace conference.  By this time, it was clear that Wilson faced considerable opposition to the treaty from Republican Senators.
13 March 1919 President Wilson returned to France, landing again at Brest. After reaching Paris, Wilson was frustrated at Colonel House, who in Wilson's absence, “had given away everything I had won before we left Paris.” House had agreed to a preliminary treaty without the covenant of the future League of Nations.  Clemenceau and Foch also wanted to include in the treaty a demand for reparations from Germany and the Allied occupation of Germany to the Rhine River.
25 March 1919 President Wilson and the British Prime Minister David Lloyd-George agreed to conduct discussions within a  council of the four major leaders: Wilson, Lloyd-George, Clemenceau, and the Italian Prime Minister Vittorio Orlando.
3-5 April 1919 Wilson contracted influenza and was very sick.  House sat in on Big 4 for him.
7 April 1919 Wilson threatened to leave the peace conference and return to the United States over the issues of the treaty and the lack of flexibility on the part of the French.  Clemenceau did agree to only a temporary occupation of  the Rhine River region in exchange for an American and British guarantee to defend France in the case of a future German attack.
11 April 1919 The conference delegates rejected a Japanese proposal to include a racial equality clause in the League of Nations covenant.
14 April 1919 President Wilson rejected Italian demands for Fiume and the Dalmatian coast. Orlando left the peace conference on 23 April--he actually ended up not signing the treaty as he was no longer prime minister by 28 June.
28 April 1919 The first of the German delegates left Berlin by train for Paris.  They were lodged in the Hotel des Reservoirs on the grounds of Versailles, Surrounded by a stockade and guarded night and day.  The "Hotel" is where the French delegation had been lodged in 1871 when signing the  peace treaty with the German Empire.
29 April 1919 The Germans had vastly underestimated the extent of allied anger at Germany, who was clearly blamed for starting the war.  There were no discussions.
6 May 1919 Last minute preparations of the treaty lasted late into the night.
7 May 1919 At 3 pm, the terms of the treaty (440 articles) were handed to the German delegation in the Great Hall of the Trianon Palace--This was the anniversary of the sinking of the Lusitania.  Count Ulrich von Brockdorff-Rantzau, who led the delegation, remained seated throughout, allegedly because he had seen a diagram in a French newspaper that labeled the German table “banc des accusées.”  His protest of the terms of the treaty which he claimed did not meet the conditions under which Germany had signed the Armistice, was also delivered while seated, which further irritated the French.  Clemenceau indicated that the Germans had two weeks to accept.
8 May 1919 Friedrich Ebert, the German president,  wired to Brockdorff that the terms were “unfulfillable, unbearable and ruinous for Germany.”  The Germans continued to submit notes, and eventually the Council of 4agreed to compromise on four points:  a plebiscite for Upper Silesia ; no fixed figure for reparations; Germany could enter the League “in the early future” ; the occupation of the Rhineland could end early if Germany fulfilled all other treaty obligations.
29 May 1919 A formal German reply that the minor revisions were okay.
16 June 1919 Bitter debate in Germany over the Treaty (Brockdorff did not want to sign the treaty).  At first Germany agreed to the treaty with the reservation that it did not recognize the war guilt clauses or articles 227-30.  When the Council of 4 said sign it as it is, Germany accepted.
20 June 1919 The German government under Philipp Scheidemann resigned rather than sign the Treaty.
20 June 1919 Scapa Flow scuttling of German fleet to prevent the allies from seizing the ships.
21 June 1919 A new cabinet formed under Gustav Bauer, the new chancellor.
23 June 1919 The German government accepted the treaty unconditionally.  The Weimar Assembly voted 237 to 138 for conditional acceptance to avoid an Allied invasion of Germany.
28 June 1919 a Saturday, with a huge crowd crowding the Hall of Mirrors in the Palace of Versailles (where the treaty ending the war with Germany had been signed in 18171), a large horseshoe table with Clemenceau at the head faced a smaller table on which was placed one copy of the treaty.  At about 3 pm, the Germans entered Dr. Hermann Müller, secretary for foreign affairs, and Dr. Johannes Bell, colonial secretary, signed, followed by the Americans, British, French, Italians, etc.
7 July 1919 With no other options, the German government ratified the Treaty of Versailles.
10 July 1919 President Wilson sent the Treaty to the U.S. Senate for formal ratification. Opposition was strong, and some senators tried to introduce amendments. There were three groupings:  Democrats who supported President Wilson and favored immediate ratification of the treaty (not many); moderates who favored limited participation in the League to protect U.S. interests (some led by Henry Cabot Lodge); and "irreconcilables" who argued for rejection of the treaty and the League Covenant (no need to name names). Wilson would not accept any revisions to the treaty.
4-25 September 1919 Wilson undertook a massive tour of the western US to gain support for the Treaty.  Two of the Senate foes of the treaty also went on tour.
25 September 1919 President Wilson broke down at Pueblo, Colorado and was rushed back to DC.
10 September 1919 The Senate Committee on Foreign Relations proposed 45 amendments and four reservations to the Treaty of Versailles. A majority of the committee were Irreconcilables aka Isolationists.
10 September 1919 The Treaty of St Germain en Laye was signed between Austria and the Allies.
2 October 1919 Wilson suffered a stroke and was unable to continue his public campaign in support of the Treaty.
October 1919 The French government ratified the Treaty on 13 October; the British on 15 October; the Italians on 18 October; the Japanese on 30 October.
19 November 1919 The US Senate failed to ratify the Treaty.  The Senate also refused to sign the Treaty of Alliance with Britain and France.
27 November 1919 The Treaty of Neuilly was signed between Bulgaria and the Allies.
10 January 1920 Treaty of Versailles took effect.
19 March 1920 The US Senate again failed to ratify the Treaty.
24-29 August 1921 The United States signed separate peace treaties with Germany, Austria, and Hungary, ending the state of war that had existed.
 
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For information contact cevans@nvcc.edu
Last revision:  7/99