Last night the powers at the Paris peace conference managed to agree on the first stages of the accord, on the question of guilt in the Great War. They have determined that Germany is in fact the main party that carries the guilt of the war, both in the responsibility in starting the war and of the horrors of the war, specifically the war crimes perpetrated.
Having been given a copy of the text we at the New York Times believe strongly in the message of peace and reconciliation that the preamble conveys:
“It is important to keep looking at the future and the past to understand the cruelties happening on the battlefield and beyond. We need to consider the consequences of the decisions that will be made today. We keep this in mind while writing this draft. In order to move forward it is important that we can close the chapter that lay behind us without forgetting the suffering of too many individuals, families and countries over the last four years. Our citizens have suffered financially and emotionally. It is impossible to put a number on death. It is however possible to compensate families that have lost their fathers, sons, mothers and daughters.”
It is clear that Germany has been condemned for its multiple breaches of the Hague Convention. However, “signing nations acknowledge that a further investigation is needed to get an overview of individual responsibilities by members of the former German government and military leadership.” To this end the creation of the Great War Criminal Chort to determine on a case by case basis the culpability of individuals and their crimes.
In terms of reparations, as for the rest of the agreement it is Germany who is the main aggressor yet the other central powers are also responsible. In order to determine reparations and maintain oversight of them an independent commission is to be formed. In which signatories will have equal influence and the central powers will be given observer status for the first 5 years, to be reviewed depending on the progress of their reparations payments and their relations with neighboring member states.
Said Commission will also be sole arbitrator in the divvying up of reparations to the allied countries.
It has also been agreed that the right of successor nations of the central powers to self determination, and in accordance with President Willson’s 14 points. This agreement is a concrete step towards peace and reconciliation.
- Wilma Dikfit, Editor in Chief of the New York Times