Fine Cutlery and Rooms of Nations

French Prime Minister Georges Clemenceau.

French Prime Minister Georges Clemenceau 1906 – 1909 and 1917 – 1920.
(Wiki Images)

Il est plus facile de faire la guerre que la paix.
It is far easier to make war than to make peace.
Georges Clemenceau

The Versailles Hotels

Today the menu may include pumpkin soup, roasted sea bass, and “Taboureich” oysters together with Krug Grande Cuvée Champagne. Nearer to the time…of our interest…Filets de soles Jean-bart, Jambon madère et épinards and Crême d’Isigny.

The Trianon Palace Hotel, Versailles, France.

The Trianon Palace Hotel, Versailles, France.

We contemplate…to imagine and wonder over menus…setting our stage. The discussions of a past that affects our today occurred here amongst the fine cutlery and rooms of nations. Delegations gathered here at Versailles for the Paris Peace Conference…the British at the Trianon Palace and the Germans at the Hotel Reservoir. What were the words shared here about a difficult most recent past? Meeting upon meeting – 145 informal gatherings… decisions made by Allied nations to confront another – Germany.

Ulrich von Brockdorff-Rantzau

Ulrich von Brockdorff-Rantzau, leader of the German delegation to the Paris Peace Conference 1919.
(Wiki Image)

In an extremely tense plenary session in the Trianon Palace on May 17, 1919, Clemenceau handed the treaty to Count Ulrich von Brockdorff-Rantzau, head of the 160-member German delegation. As he did so, the French leader spat out in cold, biting language that “it is neither the time nor the place for superfluous words…The time has come when we must settle our accounts. You have asked for peace,” Clemenceau concluded. “We are ready to give you peace.” In a shocking move, the Germans had decided not to rise in receiving the document from Clemenceau… (Crucible of Power.  Howard Jones, 2008, p. 110).

Repercussions for a hundred years and more…

Hôtel des Réservoirs, Versailles, France.

Hôtel des Réservoirs, Versailles, France.


About The Author

pferguson
Paul has worked with the Paradigm Motion Picture Company since 2009 as producer, historian and research specialist. Paul first met Casey and Ian WIlliams of Paradigm in April 2007 at Ieper (Ypres), Belgium when ceremonies were being held for the re-dedication of the Vimy Memorial, France. Paul's sensitivity to film was developed at an early age seeing his first films at RCAF Zweibrucken, Germany and in Sardinia. Paul returned to Canada in 1967 and was further amazed by David Lean's "Lawrence of Arabia" and "Bridge on the River Kwai". Film captivated Paul and with time he became increasingly interested in storytelling, content development, character, direction, cinematography and soundtracks. At the University of Victoria, Paul studied and compared Japanese and Australian film and became interested in Australian film maker Peter Weir and his film "Gallipoli" (1981). Paul was entranced when he learned Weir had visited the beaches, ridges and ravines of the peninsula. The film "Gallipoli" alone led Paul on many journeys to sites of conflict in England, France, Belgium, Holland, Germany, Malta, Hawaii and Gallipoli. It was, however, when Paul watched documentary filmmaker Ken Burns, "The Civil War", that Paul understood how his own experience and insight could be effective and perhaps influential in film-making. Combining his knowledge of Museums and Archives, exhibitions and idea strategies with his film interests would be a natural progression. Paul thinks like a film-maker. His passion for history and storytelling brings to Paradigm an eye (and ear) to the keen and sensitive interests of; content development, the understanding of successful and relational use of collections, imagery and voice. Like Paul's favorite actor, Peter O'Toole, he believes in the adage “To deepen not broaden.” While on this path Paul always remembers his grandmother whose father did not return from the Great War and how his loss shaped her life and how her experience continues to guide him.

Comments

One Response to “Fine Cutlery and Rooms of Nations”

  1. pferguson says:

    The Treaty of Versailles was signed June 28, 1919 in the Hall of Mirrors, Versailles, France. The signing was conducted on the fifth anniversary of the assassination of Archduke Francis Ferdinand, “The shot heard around the world.”

    With the arrival of the German delegates at 3:08 pm the Allied delegates remained seated. The German delegation were the first to sign. At 3:12 pm German Foreign Minister Hermann Mueller signed followed by Colonial Minister Johannes Bell. American president Woodrow Wilson was the first of the Allied nations to sign at 3:14 pm followed by British Prime Minister David Lloyd George and then other Allied representatives. At 3:50 pm the proceedings were concluded and the Allied delegation remained seated as Mueller and Bell departed at 3:52 pm.

    The pens of the German signatories were a fountain pen used by Mueller and a pen, taken by Bell, from the Hôtel des Réservoirs. It has been suggested that at least one of the German pens was purposely broken in half by one of the German delegates.

    Escorted to their hotel by Allied officers Mueller’s “Rigid self-control evaporated. In the very second when I laid down my hat and coat in my room and was about to proceed to change my clothes a cold sweat such as I had never known in my life before broke out all over my body – a physical reaction which necessarily followed the unutterable psychic strain. And now, for the first time, I knew that the worst hour of my life lay behind me.” (Harmer, Harry; “Friedrich Ebert: Germany”, Haus Publishing, 2009)

Leave a Reply