The Japanese issue, however, could not be settled so easily as the Belgian or the Serbian claims. The Japanese representatives took exception to the suggestion that the German area in Shan tung should be handed back directly to the Chinese. Japan claimed Shantung on several grounds, and a secret agreement in 1917 with the Allies had assured Japan that they would offer no objection to Japanese claims in Shantung, although the United States had never been a party to the agreement. Wilson resisted the Japanese claims, but finally accepted a compromise on April 3o.
The Italian crisis was threatening to disrupt the conference, and an understanding with Japan was more than ever necessary. It was to the effect that the Japanese were to keep Kiaochow and its adjacent district, with rights also to exploit the mines and railways in the peninsula; but that Chinese sovereignty would be restored over the peninsula of Shantung "as soon as possible." The American President expressed faith in the oral promise of the Japanese that Japan would eventually evacuate Shantung in favour of China and retain there only commercial concessions. The Chinese representatives at the Peace Conference did not have such faith. They refused to sign the treaty with Germany. But they gained a place for China in the League of Nations by signing the subsequent treaty with Austria.
With these crises over national claims passed, the draft of the treaty with Germany was handed to its chief representative, Count Brockdorff-Rantzau, on May 7, 1919, at the Trianon.
Without rising from his chair the German hurled sharp words at the representatives of the Allies for their dilatory methods. In the past six months, he declared, the blockade had caused the deaths of hundreds of thousands in Germany. "Think of that," he said, "when you speak of guilt and punishment." He and his countrymen would accept the liabilities to which they were com mitted by the Armistice, would share in restoring Belgium and the devastated areas of France. But they and their nation did not hope for a just peace. "We know," he said, "the power of the hatred that we encounter here." German Objections.—The Germans were given 15 days, and then an extension of time, in which to represent their objections to the terms of the treaty. They complained that the Allied plan for reparations was too severe and claimed the right of appeal from the assessment of the Reparations Commission to some neutral arbitrator. They demanded a plebiscite in Alsace-Lorraine.
In place of the Allied arrangement for the Saar valley, they offered fixed annual supplies of coal to France until the French mines should be restored. Instead of giving up Danzig, Memel and West Poland, they offered to make Danzig, Memel and Konigsberg free ports under German sovereignty. They de manded that Germany's claim to its colonies should be referred to arbitration. They asked for reciprocity with regard to com merce and goods in transit. They offered to negotiate concerning the League of Nations, provided Germany were admitted imme diately, the members of the League were pledged against waging economic war and the Allied Powers also should abolish compul sory military service within two years and disarm themselves.
They desired that the armies of occupation should leave German territory within six months after the signing of the treaty. They summed up their criticisms with the charge that the treaty as a whole was inconsistent with the terms of the Pre-Armistice Agreement. Such an imputation was angrily rejected by the Allies, but suggestions were made in the Supreme Council of the conference that the terms of the treaty should be softened.
The Allies maintained their position with regard to reparations and the armies of occupation. They conceded some changes in the Polish frontier, to make it more consistent with ethnographic divisions. They agreed to a plebiscite in Upper Silesia. They withdrew the provision for making the Kiel Canal an international waterway. They intimated that they would open negotiations at once looking toward reduction of their own armaments. They promised to admit Germany into the League, if Germany com plied with the terms of the treaty. They invited from Germany an offer (hedged round with many conditions), within four months of the signing of the treaty, of a lump sum to settle reparations. This suggestion was not accepted by Germany.