For six months between January and July 1919, Paris was the center of the world–men and women from around the world converged on Paris to shape the peace. Center stage, for the first time in history, was an American president, Woodrow Wilson. David Lloyd George, the gregarious and wily British prime minister, brought Winston Churchill and John Maynard Keynes. Lawrence of Arabia joined the Arab delegation. Ho Chi Minh, a kitchen assistant at the Ritz, submitted a petition for an independent Vietnam.
Soon ideals and prejudices formed. The Russians were invited nominally but when their new Bolshevic Government chose to not participate, the Allies were much relieved. Millions were taken from their Ottoman and German colonial masters and given over to the French and British. The United States was offered a Mandate over the Kurds but refused it as Wilson did not want to get involved in middle east colonialism. The West did not want to accept Japan’s proposed “racial equality clause” so it instead decided to give Japan a slice of Chinese territory.
In sessions, they discussed what seems eerily similar to our present-day issues: the problems of Kosovo, of the Kurds, of a homeland for the Jews, as well as Henry Cabot Lodge and Republican proposal to form a “League of Democracies”.
Above, Wilson, Clemenceau and Lloyd-George leave the Trianon Palace, Versailles.