George Clemenceau: WWI

April 18, 2012 | | Comments Off on George Clemenceau: WWI

George Clemenceau was the French negotiator at the Paris Peace Conference where he helped create the terms of the Treaty of Versailles. Clemenceau is partially responsible for the harsh tone of the terms of the treaty and for the relentless punishment of Germany for the war.

-Katharine Fields

George Clemenceau


Clemenceau succeeded Paul Painleve as premier in November 1917, having been appointed byPresident Raymond Poincare, and remained in the post until 1920.  Having become prime minister for the second time he formed a coalition cabinet, serving as minister of war himself.

Clemenceau worked to revive French morale in the country at large, and persuaded the Allies to agree to a unified military command under Ferdinand Foch; he energetically pursued the war until its conclusion in November 1918.

At the Paris Peace Conference Clemenceau insisted upon the complete humiliation of Germany, requiring German disarmament and severe reparations; France also won back Alsace-Lorraine.  Even so, he remained unsatisfied with the Treaty, often coming into conflict with U.S. President Woodrow Wilson, whom he viewed as too idealistic.

In the presidential elections of January 1920 Clemenceau was defeated, ironically after facing charges that he was too lenient in his treatment of Germany at the Treaty.

Following his retirement from politics Clemenceau wrote his autobiography, In the Evening of my Thought (1929).  He predicted a renewed war with Germany by 1940.  He died on 24 November 1929 in Paris.


Clemenceau (left) and Woodrow Wilson at the Paris Peace Conference.



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