On January 15, 1919, Count Brockdorff-Rantzau, recently appointed foreign minister of the German Republic, concluded a press conference with the following appeal:
We demand a policy of reconciliation …, a policy which realizes a genuine … League of Nations. But we will be asked whom we are introducing into this League. Then we must be able to say: “We are introducing a united people that wants peace in the world and is willing to enter the lists for every progress of mankind. …”
With these words the German minister gave expression to an ideal that had inspired many left-wing liberals and pacifists in Germany during the war, and that had been taken up by the spokesmen of the newly proclaimed German Republic immediately after the armistice. To them, as well as to Brockdorff, the future League of Nations, in the way it was going to be constituted, was to become the test of the spirit in which the peace would be concluded. The crucial point was whether, and if so on what terms, it would include the new German Republic. If it admitted Germany on equal terms, it would thus demonstrate that it would be a universal organization, open to all democratic nations and in line with the aspirations of the moderate Left of Europe.