20 MARCH 1942, Page 10

I recall with dismay a scene which took place at

the session of the Conference at which the terms to be handed to the Germans were for the first time officially communicated to the

smaller allies. One after another, the representatives of the smaller Powers rose from their gilt chairs and protested against the frontiers which they had been accorded. Paderewski rose, tragic and leonine, and informed the Conference that the Polish people would be plunged into mourning by the settlement im- posed upon them by their principal allies. Pasitch, his beard trembling in agitation, doubted whether he would dare to return to Belgrade with the meagre compensations accorded to the Serbs, the Croats and the Slovenes. Clemenceau listened to these protests with ill-concealed fury, twisting an ivory paper-cutter in his gloved hands. But when Bratiano rose in his turn to pro- claim the wrongs of Rumania, the Tiger's patience snapped suddenly. He flung the paper-cutter with a crash upon the inkstand in front of him. "Keep silent, Monsieur Bratiano," he shouted, "I ask you to resume your seat." We sat there chilled with horror and unhappiness. Then President Wilson rose and explained to us that peace was not a question of frontiers or of Governments, but was the eternal heritage of the ordinary man. The storm subsided, and we hoped that the session would soon close. Yet it was that moment which Marshal Foch chose to denounce the military clauses. He told us that the Treaty did not give either to France or to Europe that physical security which must be the basis of any peace. He told us that no paper-clauses would keep Germany disarmed for more than a few years, and that the only provision which would secure peace for our grandchildren was that the French should hold the Rhine against all future aggression. "That river," he said, "will settle everything." Clemenceau at once dismissed the assembly, and in the ante-room afterwards he bustled up to Foch in a tempest of rage. Why had the Marshal raised this Matter at so inoppor- tune a moment? Why? Why? Foch squared his shoulders and twirled his moustache, "It was because I wished to ease my conscience." Clemenceau flung away from him with an angry snarl. And he walked sadly out into the evening, conscious that this ungainly scene somehow symbolised what was wrong.

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