President Woodrow Wilson changes his mind

September/October 1918

Across the Atlantic, President Wilson seemed to have forgotten the rapacious nature of the German military leadership.

Wilson’s anxiety not to crush Germany led him to send a coded telegram to his emissary, Colonel Edward House:

‘My deliberate judgement is that our whole weight should be thrown for an Armistice which will prevent a renewal of hostilities by Germany but which will be as moderate as possible within those limits because it is certain that too much success … on the part of the Allies will make a genuine peace settlement exceedingly difficult if not impossible’.   p.9-10

Colonel House responded to their ( the Allies objections) by declaring that the logical consequences to their opposition would be for Wilson to tell Germany that the Allies did not agree to the proposed peace conditions and that … ‘this would leave the President free … to determine whether the United States should continue to fight for the principles laid down by the Allies’.       p.17


He (President Wilson) believed that the traditional method of preventing armed conflicts, with competing alliances and balance of power politics, was largely responsible for the build-up of armaments in Europe before 1914.  He hoped to administer ‘impartial justice’ between Germany and its erstwhile foes and to create a new global system where war would have no place.  It would be called the ‘League of Nations’, and its supreme arbiter would be the most powerful and honourable country in the world, America.     p.25

The British had not been aware of Wilson’s antipathy towards them.  A British official was aghast when Wilson told him bluntly: ‘You must not speak of us who come over here as cousins, still less as brothers; we are neither’.        p.32

President Wilson … became increasingly irate over what he considered to be French rapacity.  … Wilson declared: … We agreed among ourselves and we agreed with Germany upon certain principles.  The whole of the conference has been made up of a series of attempts, especially for France, to break down this agreement, to get territory and to impose crushing indemnities’.       p.40-41

(After Wilson actually met the Germans, however, at Versailles he seemed to change his mind about their war guilt )

Lloyd George dreaded a return to war.  …  Yet when he and Hoover asked if expediency ought not to govern (in persuading the Germans to sign the Versailles Treaty) Wilson countered: ‘Nobody can be sure that they have made a just decision.  But don’t you think that if we regard the treaty as just, the argument of expediency ought not to govern.  We might have to fight for it again’.   p.45

Wilson … toured the American heartlands to canvass support (for the Treaty).  On 5 September he told a gathering at St Louis that ‘for nearly 50 years the French had expected a war … they had dreaded .. the very thing that had happened … The terror had been there all the time and the war was its flame and its consummation’. p.47

On 2 October he (Wilson) suffered a severe stroke. … The future of the entire Treaty lay in the balance. Mrs. Wilson begged her sick husband to accept the Republicans reservations so that the Treaty could at last be ratified (by America).  However, he turned his head on his pillow and pleaded for her understanding, saying ‘… Can’t you see that I have no moral right to accept any change in a paper that I have signed without giving to every other signatory, even the Germans, the right to do the same thing?     p.49 and p.54


After its success in the United States (John Maynard Keynes’s) Economic Consequence of the Peace was translated into German.  Erich Eyck, a former lawyer, journalist and Social Democrat politician .. revealed its unfortunate impact on German public opinion. … ‘For what could be more welcome to a German nationalist than a description of President Wilson as a ‘blind and deaf Don Quixote’ who let an avenging Clemenceau lead him around by the nose?  Why should the German reader ponder France’s need for security if Keynes could so glibly ignore it?’

‘It is therefore little wonder that ninety-nine of every hundred Germans were convinced that they had been duped by the Armistice. … This mental attitude began to nourish the ‘stab in the back’ legend.  Thus to the two villains who had betrayed Germany, the Armistice and the revolution, was added yet a third; that old Presbyterian Wilson’.   p.63

Hugenberg and his armaments friends used the money they had made out of the war to spread the word, that but for President Wilson’s dastardly intervention, the German army would have emerged victorious.       p.71


Wilson was becoming more and more alarmed at the terrible mistake he had made in not insisting on ‘unconditional surrender’ in 1918.  … Wilson hoped that if he and his former financial adviser, Bernard Baruch, acquainted Smuts with the true facts about Germany’s economic might, they could persuade him that France’s fight for reparations was their fight too.

So Bernard Baruch sent Smuts a 1,760-word telegram explaining the dangers of letting Germany off too lightly.  (Baruch finished with the words) ‘Unless this is done Germany will conquer the world industrially’.     p.115


The German Embassy in the US initially refused to hang its flag at half-mast when President Wilson died on 2 February 1924, to the astonishment of the American people.       Wilson, for all his principles had somehow ended by satisfying neither the Allies, nor the American people, still less the German people he had come to save … Instead he had allowed the most aggressive forces to regroup in Germany in order to distort truth and vilify the democratic movement he held most dear. p.63


On May 1925 Paul von Hindenburg – whom the Allies had wished to try as a war criminal in 1919 – was elected President.  Hindenburg had misled the nation as to how the war had ended in 1918.  He did not regret his decision.  On the contrary, now that the crisis was over and the terror of defeat had passed, he only regretted having forced the Kaiser to abdicate to comply with President Wilson’s edict in November 1918.  He would never be allowed to forget that mistake by those to whom he owed his election.      p.119

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              How Hitler Came To Power describes how what amounted to a conspiracy of the German military and industrial cliques, manipulated Allied leaders and misrepresented the Treaty of Versailles to further their ambitions, with zero regard for the human cost.
             Germany was far stronger economically by 1929 than she had been before the First World War. How Hitler Came To Power makes the case that she was primarily responsible for the Wall Street crash. By 1931 she was the greatest exporter in the world, with a mountain of cash in the bank. Yet the German people were subjected to high taxation, mass unemployment and misinformation in the cause of ridding Germany of the shackles of Versailles and returning the country to dictatorship