The Treaty of Versailles

The Treaty of Versailles

  • The delegation of the Gueules cassées in Versailles, June 28, 1919.

    ANONYMOUS

  • The signing of the Versailles Peace Treaty in the Hall of Mirrors, June 28, 1919.

    BELLAN Gilbert (1868 - 1938)

  • The Hall of Mirrors prepared for the signing ceremony of the Peace Treaty of Versailles

    MEUNIER Madeleine

  • The Hall of Mirrors on the day of the signing of the peace (June 28, 1919).

    DELBEKE Léopold (1866 - 1932)

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Title: The delegation of the Gueules cassées in Versailles, June 28, 1919.

Author : ANONYMOUS (-)

Creation date : 1919

Date shown: June 28, 1919

Dimensions: Height 0 - Width 0

Technique and other indications: photograph, postcard

Storage place: Historial of the Great War of Péronne website

Contact copyright: © All rights reserved

The delegation of the Gueules cassées in Versailles, June 28, 1919.

© All rights reserved

The signing of the Versailles Peace Treaty in the Hall of Mirrors, June 28, 1919.

© Photo RMN-Grand Palais - D. Arnaudet

To close

Title: The Hall of Mirrors prepared for the signing ceremony of the Peace Treaty of Versailles

Author : MEUNIER Madeleine (-)

Creation date : 1919

Date shown: June 28, 1919

Dimensions: Height 28.1 - Width 39.2

Technique and other indications: watercolor on paper

Storage place: National Museum of the Palace of Versailles (Versailles) website

Contact copyright: © Photo RMN-Grand Palais - C. Jean website

Picture reference: 80EE409 / MV 7891; INV. Drawings 690

The Hall of Mirrors prepared for the signing ceremony of the Peace Treaty of Versailles

© Photo RMN-Grand Palais - C. Jean

The Hall of Mirrors on the day of the signing of the peace (June 28, 1919).

© Photo RMN-Grand Palais - D. Arnaudet

Publication date: March 2016

Historical context

Image Analysis

In Delbeke's painting, the delegation of "broken faces" is placed in the embrasure of one of the windows of the Hall of Mirrors and facing the large table reserved for the allies, which can be seen in the foreground. Madeleine Meunier’s drawing is in fact an inverted shot: the signature table is in the foreground, that of the allies being in the background. The disabled people were therefore behind the smallest table where the treaty was signed. The plenipotentiaries had to parade in front of them and then turn their backs on them when signing the document.

The presence of the disabled makes it possible to approach the signing of the treaty in a different way: through the theatrical and theatrical dimension of the ceremony.

The photograph shows five injuries to the face. The horribly mutilated faces bear witness to the violence of the trauma and the brutality of war. Where did these five soldiers come from? How were they there? It was Clemenceau himself who took the initiative to involve the disabled in the ceremony. The military governor of Paris contacted the chief medical officer of the "facial" service at the Val-de-Grâce hospital to appoint a delegation of five wounded. Two hundred faceless patients were still being treated there.

Chief medical officer H. Morestin was chosen for one of the oldest maxillofacial injuries in his service, hospitalized for more than four years: Albert Jugon. Mobilized in August 1914 in the 1er a colonial infantry regiment, he had been wounded in Argonne at the start of the war. Half of his face and throat had been washed away by a shrapnel.

The sociability peculiar to the disfigured people who reigned in hospitals explains why Jugon knew all of his "suffering brothers". The doctor therefore instructed him to complete the delegation. He then pointed to four other "broken faces" found on the document [1].

Clemenceau played a decisive initial role. This role remained just as decisive during the ceremony. When Clemenceau entered the large room that Gilbert Bellan presents in a wide shot, on June 28, 1919 around 2 p.m., that is, an hour before the signing of the treaty, the journalists present stressed that he first refused to go to the table. presidential election and that his first gesture was to move towards the group of disabled people.

It is interesting to look at the words of the President of the Council. Certain accounts attribute to Clemenceau sentences which make the treaty the reward for the sufferings of the combatants. To all those faces that turned to him, he said, “You have suffered but here is your reward. And his hands pointed to the peace treaty placed on the little table. Other press reports show Clemenceau playing with apparent cynicism in order to establish a very special complicity with the disabled and to break all distance. Indeed, the President of the Council would have said: "If you have something to ask, now is the time ..." Before adding to his silent interlocutors: "You were in a bad corner, it shows! A streak of dark humor that only Clemenceau could afford under the circumstances, which was only acceptable in combination with the deep emotion on his face.

Interpretation

Clemenceau evokes three aspects: the recognition of the fatherland with regard to those who sacrificed themselves for it; the moral and symbolic reparation constituted by the signing of the treaty, tangible proof of the French victory; the allusion to other more tangible reparations to be charged to Germany.

It is advisable not to see in the presence of "broken faces" in Versailles on June 28, 1919, a gesture denouncing the war. It should not be viewed through the prism of victimization or of vindication on the part of the disabled present. Their atrocious wounds are also glorious, in the eyes of the public as in their own eyes. It was also a matter of presenting the victory as justifying the immense suffering endured by the French fighters. In Versailles, we do not note the presence of any wounded, allies or enemies. The treaty is worth reparation. The presence of the disabled also has the meaning of an indictment of Germany. They had been placed there to shock the German delegates, to shame them. So it is above all an anti-German act.

  • Germany
  • army
  • Clemenceau (Georges)
  • War of 14-18
  • Treaty of Versailles
  • Versailles

Bibliography

Pierre VALLAUD, 14-18, World War I, volumes I and II, Paris, Fayard, 2004.

Sophie DELAPORTE, The Broken Maws, Paris, Noésis, 1996.

Notes

1. From right to left: Eugène Hébert, a childhood friend, mobilized in the 315th infantry regiment, died in 1957. Henri Agogué, of the 4th battalion of chasseurs à pied, died in 1935. Pierre Richard, of the 102nd battalion of hunters on foot, died in 1965. And André Cavalier, of the 2nd Zouave, wounded in Diksmuide on May 4, 1915 and the last deceased, in 1976. All infantry most often belonging to shock units.

To cite this article

Sophie DELAPORTE, "The Treaty of Versailles"


Video: Germany and the Treaty of Versailles