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The Treaty of Versailles
Transcript of The Treaty of Versailles
A feature by
lindsie kate sooter
The big four
David Lloyd George
Vittorio Emanuele orlando
The Beginning of the End - how the treaty came to be
World War One came to an end with an approximate total of 37 million casualites between military and civilians of those involved.
Central Power Germany agreed to an armistice in November 1918 after suffering from diminished resources, internal revolutionaries and great losses against the Allied Powers.
The Allied Powers decided they never wanted to endure such a war and devastation ever again. They began drafting a peace treaty to punish Germany for allegedly starting the war and hinder Germany from ever going to war.
In additon to the Treaty of Versailles, there were additional peace treaties with Austria-Hungary (separated), the Ottoman Empire, and Bulgaria to formally end the war.
The Treaty Process
How: Paris Peace Conference of 1919
Who: Diplomats from 32+ countries
most notable: U.S., British Emprie, France, Italy, Japan
Signed by Germany: June 28th, 1919
Effective: January 10th, 1920
The Fourteen Points
Germany was flabbergasted at the treaty, they were not fully aware of any of the details regarding the treaty until a few weeks prior to its signing.
The only option given to Germany was to sign the treaty or be invaded by the Allied Powers.
Those who signed the treaty (although they had no choice) became known as the "November Criminals."
What actually happened?
League of Nations
Was created as an international organization, whose sole purpose was to maintain world peace.
It settled international disputes through negotiations and arbitration.
It handled all overseas colonies that were handed over by Germany.
All German Territories were taken and given to the Allies
Eupen and Malmedy (Belgium)
Northern Schleswig (Denmark)
West Prussia, Posen and Upper Silesia (Poland)
The Saar, Danzig and Memel were put under the control of the League of Nations
Army was reduced to 100,000 men on paper.
In actuality all troops had short contracts and were put on reserves once their term was over.
No Air force, Tanks, or Submarines.
Only 6 capital naval ships allowed.
Moved to smaller / faster ships.
Trained submariners abroad.
West of Rhineland and 50kms East were made into demilitarized zone.
if terms were not met
1. No more secret agreements
2. Free navigation of all seas.
3. An end to all economic barriers between countries.
4. Countries to reduce weapon numbers
5. All decisions regarding the colonies should be impartial
6. The German Army is to be removed from Russia. Russia should be left to develop.
7. Belgium should be independent like before the war.
8. France should be fully liberated and allowed to recover Alsace-Lorraine
9. All Italians are to be allowed to live in Italy. Italy's borders are to be "along clearly recognizable lines of nationality."
10. Self-determination should be allowed for all those living in Austria-Hungary.
11. Self-determination and guarantees of independence should be allowed for the Balkan states.
12. The Turkish people should be governed by the Turkish government. Non-Turks in the old Turkish Empire should govern themselves.
13. An independent Poland should be created which should have access to the sea.
14. A League of Nations should be set up to guarantee the political and territorial independence of all states.
Was the Treaty of Versailles
As for the reparations, the Treaty of Versailles did leave the German economy in an even weaker state after already being emaciated from the war.
Historians and economists argue over whether the Treaty of Versailles led to the great economic depression that followed in the 1920s-30s. John Maynard Keynes initially argued that the treaty did stress existing financial woes of Western Europe. "He explained that a cobweb of buying and selling, borrowing and lending, which for long had linked every port and factory in the world was delicate. A peace treaty which tautened any strand of that cobweb was therefore perilous." (Blainey, 16)
Keeping the peace?
Blainey, George. Causes of War. New York; The Free Press, 1973. Print.
Dunne, Tim. International Relations Theories: Discipline and Diversity. Oxford; Oxford University Press, 2013. Print.
Kaiser, David 'Treaty of Versailes' History Channel, 1996. Web.
Mingst, Karen A. Snyder, Jack L. Essential Readings in World Politics. New York; W. W. Norton & Company, 2001. Print
"Treaty of Versailles, 1919." United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. Washington, D.C. Web.
Trueman, Chris. "World War One." & "Woodrow Wilson's Fourteen Points" History Learning Site. 2000-2013. Web.
Britain's David Lloyd George believed that Germany for all her actions needed to be punished! Yet realized that if Germany was left destitute that it would leave a hole in Central Europe. If the people were left disillusioned by their government, they might consider converting to Communism.
Although Italy was a member of the Triple Alliance, she did not join the war until 1915. Even with the commitment to the Allied powers during the war, once the war was over Vittorio Emanuele Oralndo had hoped the faith would have been restored in Italy. He expected to be an essential power in deciding the fate of Germany, but was considered untrustworthy. He fought with Woodrow Wilson on territorial demands, and ultimately did not receive control of Adriatic coastline which Italy had wanted.
France's Georges Clemenceau believed that the terms of the treaty was to be as harsh as possible. The people of France wanted no mercy for the German people; feelings of revenge echoed throughout France. The French wanted the destruction of Germany military, territory and economy. They essentially wanted to bring the country to its knees!
Woodrow Wilson believed America’s involvement should be kept to a minimum. Germany should be punished but should also have room for reconciliation with the European community, not revenge. Wilson had written a proposal for what he believed the terms of the treaty should be, which he expressed in his "Fourteen Points."
Totaled in 1921 to 132 billion Marks. (Equivalent to US $442 billion in 2014)
The exorbitance of the amount due for reparations was so high, Article 231 of the Treaty was called the War Guilt Clause. On top of the money owed, Germany had to accept all responsibility for the war. This aspect became the most humiliating part of the Treaty for the German people.
The first five years of the treaty both France and Belgium tried to enforce the treaty, but due to Germany's non-payment, they ended up occupying Ruhr in 1922. In 1924 France was pressured by the Allies to scale down its goals and end the occupation. Reparations were ultimately changed and a new agreement under the Dawes Plan and Young Plan went into effect. With the depression in 1932, reparations were canceled and the Hitler denounced the treaty in 1935. The Treaty did not keep the peace for very long and ultimately the strict regulations of the treaty may have been the reason for its collapse.
The construction of the League of Nations did help enact a global sentiment that negotiation and arbitration were to be utilized in finding amicable solutions to disputes. Unfortunately the League failed in WWII, yet it was replaced by the United Nations and many of the League's principles were transferred.
The German people felt they were being punished for the mistakes of the government, as it was not the will of the people to go to war in the first place.
The people could not afford to make reparations and were dissatisfied with their government.
With morale so low after the devastation of the war and the humiliation of the Treaty, the German people were vulnerable to powerful influences.
By 1933 Adolf Hitler was voted to power and announced that Germany would no longer make payments, the Allies did nothing, despite the previous threat to invade if Germany did so.
The Treaty of Versailles, or "peace" after WWI, was determined by the combined factors of Germany accepting defeat and economic, social and political devastation, as well as strong political and military influence from the victors, the Allied Powers. These victors formulated firm punishment of Germany, harsh enough in the hopes of attaining a lasting peace by deterring the Germans.
Were they successful? We believe they were successful in accomplishing their general goals; they punished Germany, made her pay, literally, depleted her military, and established the early stages of international law. Because of this, the Treaty of Versailles shows how wars can be ended with clear victors and losers, and establish a sense of calm after the storm. However, is forcing a country into non-negotiable agreements how you attain peace? Or does this practice lead into angered, revengeful countries prone to conflict rather than peace? Again, the Treaty of Versailles shows how the differing ideals of peace and deterrence were intensely blurred and misconstrued.
Although the guilt clause lead to Germany taking all fault for World War I, the reparations were solely for the purpose of rebuilding Europe.
With the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and the Ottoman Empire reduced to the size of Turkey, a new group of independent states emerged. Firstly Austria and Hungary separated and then Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia became key states. Then the new independent states of Poland, Finland, Latvia, Estonia, and Lithuania were born. Meanwhile France and Britain were given mandates over Syria, Mesopotamia, and Palestine.