20 MARCH 1942, Page 10

In the years which have elapsed since as a young

man I worked in the British Delegation to the Peace Conference, I have constantly considered what were the essential mistakes made by those who in that hurried and distressing period held in their hands the future destinies of Europe. It was not know- ledge that was lacking, since the best experts whom the world possessed were crowded into the hotels of Paris, and sat waiting for hours in the ante-rooms of the Quai d'Orsay. I admit that, owing to time-pressure, it frequently occurred that the Council of Five or the Council of Ten had not the leisure to read the memoranda addressed to them, or even to hear the views of the experts by whom they were surrounded. But this form of con- gestion is inseparable from any conference which aims at rapid results. Nor was it cynicism which marred the Conference. The great majority of those taking part in the Conference were liberal-minded, and even idealistic. Nor can I recall that, at least among the British and American Delegations, there was any spirit of vindictiveness. I am inclined rather to agree with Professor Seton-Watson (who witnessed so many of our labours and anxieties) that the Treaty of Versailles, which the Germans represent as one of the most iniquitous of international transactions, was, in fact, the first Peace Treaty deliberately framed upon ethical principles. Yet, as I have dhown in my book upon the subject, most of us in Paris were left with a deep sense of disappointment and frustration. We knew that some- thing had gone very wrong. What was that something? * *