During the peace process, the Western governments had a chance to reflect on what had gone wrong and to design a peace settlement that would restore stability and confidence in European leadership.
I. The Paris peace talks were infused with the idealistic rhetoric of U.S. President Wilson’s state-of-the-union address delivered in January 1918. Ever since his 1912 election, Wilson had been cultivating a new foreign policy for the United States that was to be based on morality, not self-interest. He withdrew from the imperialist policies of Theodore Roosevelt and pledged that the United States would withdraw from its colonial presence in the Philippines as soon as a stable government could be established.
In his union address, Wilson laid out his Fourteen Points that would ensure world peace and bring the benefits of democracy and freedom to the rest of the world. The essence of these points lay in the principle of individual and national self-determination, which would be the basis of a new world order; on a fundamental level, it was a continuation of 19th-century liberalism. Perhaps the most novel feature was Wilson’s call for the interests of the colonised to be given the same weight as the interests of the colonial government.
II. The peace agreement at Paris, with its five separate treaties, included many idealistic applications of Wilson’s Fourteen Points.
i. In particular, the settlement included his last point, establishing a League of Nations, which would have the job of mediating international disputes. Moreover, the league was to give equal representation to all countries, no matter how small and weak, thus establishing the liberal principle of equality under the law on an international scale. In practice, the league was unable to construct the peaceful democratic world that Wilson envisioned, because Congress refused to join and because the league lacked authority to implement its decisions.
ii. The other major application of the Fourteen Points was in the creation of nearly a dozen new countries out of the former Turkish, Russian, and Austro-Hungarian empires according to principles of national self-determination, although even this process was partly shaped by pragmatic considerations, as well.
However, the settlement only exposed the contradictions of European leadership and its claims to “make the world safe for democracy” (the words of Woodrow Wilson). In practice, the creation of new “nation-states” did not strictly follow the ideal of one people/one state.
i. Because most ethnic groups lived intermingled, not neatly isolated from each other, ethnic minorities were created in the new countries.
ii. The ethnic tensions fostered in these states were still not resolved by the end of the 20th century, as the ethnic wars in Yugoslavia demonstrated.
The containment of the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia was another determining factor in drawing boundaries and establishing strong buffer states.
Instead of a new world order based on the foundation of independent and satisfied states, the peace settlement had created the grounds for a whole new set of territorial disputes.
III. Moreover, supporters of the Allied cause were rewarded, while others were punished for their support of Germany or Austria.
IV. The principle of self-determination, while lofty in its appeal, provided little guidance for managing competing claims in multi-ethnic regions.
V. Although there were contradictions in the attempt to apply the principle of self-determination to the European continent, at least these measures were generally in line with the Fourteen Points. There were other agreements, however, that directly contradicted them. The most glaring exception to the application of liberal equality was the treatment received by the colonial world.
i. Colonial self-determination was not on the table, even in colonies taken away from defeated powers. For example, when the Koreans rose against Japanese colonial rule in early 1919, inspired precisely by Wilson’s Fourteen Points, they appealed to the United States for support. The U.S. State Department, however, declared their revolt to be a purely internal, Japanese affair, effectively accepting the idea that Korea was the property of Japan.
ii. German colonies in Africa and Turkish colonies in the Middle East were taken over by World War I victors, who named them “protectorates,” with a promise of independence when they were ready for it. But by World War II, only a few protectorates had been granted independence.
iii. Possibly the obvious contradiction between the lofty rhetoric of the peace talks and the different standard applied to the colonial world is clearly illustrated in a dramatic event, known as the Amritsar massacre, which occurred during the middle of the talks, in April 1919.
iv. In China in 1919, the Paris peace settlement transferred control over several provinces from Germany to Japan, resulting in mass public protests in major cities across China. It was partly disillusionment over the double standard followed by Western liberal powers that made Mao Tse Tung turn from liberalism to revolutionary Marxism in the years following China’s transfer to Japanese control.
VI. There was one other major contradiction in the settlement, between Germany and the Allied nations. Because the Allies blamed Germany for starting the war, they imposed a vindictive settlement that included huge reparation payments and military occupation of German territory. The treaty also called for a demilitarised zone in western Germany; the complete dismantling of the German military machine; and the right of France to occupy parts of Germany, if the terms of the treaty were not kept, and to administer the Ruhr Valley coal mines to extract reparation payments. Not only did this treaty undermine Germany’s national self-determination, but it undermined her new democratic government. Just as the settlement provided fuel for anti-colonialist movements outside Europe, the Versailles treaty also provided fuel for anti-liberal nationalists, such as Hitler, inside Europe.
The upshot of these inconsistencies was that the 200-page peace settlement embodied the contradictions of an idealistic Enlightenment project that was applied selectively and unequally. In this sense, it set the terms for the next half-century of political conflict, instead of achieving its declared intention of protecting world peace.IBDP ESSAYS
Treaty of Versailles, 28th June 1919
· Peace Treaty between the victorious powers – Britain, France, Italy and USA dictated to Germany
· 440 clauses – very extensive, too much so?
· Signed in Hall of Mirrors in Palace of Versailles where the proclamation of the German Union was signed in 1871 after the Franco-Prussian War, to rub it in France’s face – now it was Germany’s turn to be humiliated – it was also the anniversary of the assassination of the Archduke of Franz Ferdinand in 1914, which was the catalyst of WW1. Rushed into? Wilson and Lloyd George openly stated that they hadn’t read all the clauses, for that would take a “lifetime”
· TRAWL – Territories (Germany lost 13% of territories, AL went back to France), Reparations (£6.6 billion – weren’t actually specified until the London Conference in 1930 – Germany felt like she was signing a ‘blank cheque’ – again ironic, it is what they offered AH after the assassination), Army (disarmed to 100,000 men and 6 battleships – Germans sunk most of their fleet because they didn’t want the British to benefit from it), War Guilt clause (Article 231, see above), League of Nations (set up from Wilson’s 14 points, again see above)
· Humiliated Germany – seen as a Diktat. Also lost 12% of population.
· Ruth Henig – “TOV wasn’t excessively harsh on Germany”
· Lenin – “This is no peace, but terms dictated to a defenceless victim by armed robbers”
· Lloyd George knew that “Germany could not pay anything like the indemnity which the British and French demanded”
· Harold Nicolson – “We left the conference conscious that the treaty imposed upon out enemy was neither just nor wise”
· German MP – “shameless blow in the face of common sense”
· Lloyd George – “I didn’t do too bad considering I was sat between Jesus (Wilson) and Napoleon (Clemenceau)”
· Clemenceau – “there are 20 million Germans too many”
· Germany didn’t pay off the reparations until 2010
· Lloyd George – “we want to protect the future against a repetition of the horrors of war”
· Terms weren’t really stuck to by Hitler – he found it a godsend for propaganda. Some argue that appeasement found its roots in 1919 through the guilty consciences created at Versailles.
Treaty of Trianon, 4th June 1920
· Between B&F and Hungary (who were undergoing a communist takeover). Hungary had been a peaceful multi ethnic state for over 1000 years until the treaty. Branded “The greatest tragedy to have befallen Hungary”
· Obliged to pay reparations but went bankrupt before the reparations were agreed
· Lost ¾ of its territory, and more than 60% of its population – population reduced from 21 million to 7.5 million, many Magyar speakers now part of neighbouring countries
· Two of the three newly created countries carved out of Hungarian territory no longer exist. (Slovakia became part of Czech Republic and Yugoslavia suffered from civil war and ethnic cleansing) –may never have happened if the treaty hadn’t taken place.
· Throughout the 1920s and 30s, the Hungarian F.P was dominated by a desire to revise the Treaty and reunite Magyar speaking lands – in pursuit of this, she signed a treaty with Mussolini’s Italy in 1927
· Wilson: “The proposal to dismember Hungary is absurd” Winston Churchill: “Ancient poets and theologians could not imagine the suffering that Trianon brought to the innocent”
· Effects of treaty are still strongly felt today
· Treaty restricted Hungary economically and militarily, causing aggression
· Caused the formation of the Little Entente (Yugoslavia, Czechoslovakia and Romania) who feared that Hungary might go to war in order to reclaim the territories that Trianon took away and gave to the members of the little entente.
· The new Hungary was a landlocked state with no access to the Mediterranean Sea, which weakened economy, and could have been the reason for her later association with Nazi Germany
· Army reduced to 35,000 men with no more conscription, air force was banned, and, as a land locked nation, she was not allowed a navy.
Treaty of Sevres, 10th August 1920
· Signed between B&F and the Ottoman Empire (Turkey)
· Carved up as the ‘sick man of Europe’ – took 15 months to draft.
· Abolished the Ottoman Empire, which left lots of small party states becoming mandates. Britain took control of Iraq and Palestine whilst France took control of Syria and Lebanon – a lot of the problems going on with the Syrian conflict today can be traced back to this treaty
· Countries such as Armenia were recognized as independent states.
· Dardanelles straits were opened up and made an international waterway with Turkey having no control over it
· Army limited to 50,000 men. Navy limited to 13 boats and an air force was forbidden.
· Financial control handed over to the allies – control of banks, imports and exports, loans and the tax system
· Lost all rights to Sudan and Libya and had to recognize French Morocco, British Egypt and Cyprus
· Eastern Thrace, Aegan Islands and Dodecanese Islands went to Italy.
· Terms were overthrown as the result of the revival of a Turkish nationalist movement – new treaty of Lausanne was drawn up in 1923 in which Greece returned Eastern Thrace and 2 Aegan Islands to Turkey, in which they also gained the right to close the straits to enemy warships in the time of war. The supervision of finances was also ended.
Treaty of St Germain, 10th September 1919
· Between B&F and Austria
· Dissolved the Austro-Hungarian Empire – Austria was to be treated as a new state, and Hungary had their separate treaty (Trianon)
· Army limited to 30,000 men
· Reparations were declared to start in 1921 and last for 30 years but they were never enforced so never paid. Payments in animals to Italia, Romania and Serbia were, however, set out (milk cows, bulls, sheep, horses)
· Empire reduced from 30 million to 6 million, now land locked
· Lost industrial areas
· Forced to accept some War Guilt just like Germany did
· Unification (Anschluss) with Germany was forbidden
· Lost land to Czechoslovakia, Poland, Italy, Romania and Yugoslavia
· Austro-Hungarian navy was split up and distributed between the allies
· The Austria created by the treaty was financially and militarily weak and therefore a chronic force of instability in Europe between the two World Wars.
Treaty of Neuilly, 27th November 1919
· Between the allies and Bulgaria
· Reparations of £90 million to be paid, which they actually did pay because 75% of the reparations were later remitted
· Western Thrace handed over to ‘Big Three’ and eventually to Greece – this lost Bulgaria’s Aegan coastline and access to the seas, so weakened her
· Army limited to 20,000 men
· When World War Two broke out, Bulgaria sided with Nazi Germany and reclaimed all the land taken from her by the Treaty of Neuilly.
· Land also given to Romania and Yugoslavia
Was The Treaty of Versailles Too Harsh?
Between January and the beginning of May 1919 no exact information seeped out as to the progress of the discussions among the victors. Consequently neither the German government nor German public opinion had anything like a clear, realistic idea of the scope of the terms to be imposed on Germany. In the ‘dreamland of the Armistice period’ (Ernst Troeltsch) people still hoped for lenient, ‘Wilsonian’ peace conditions. Immediately after the armistice the German government began preparing for peace negotiations. Many groups of experts were engaged in collecting material and working up a basis for negotiation. As recent research has shown, the reparations problem occupied a central place in the German preparations.
All thoughts were concentrated on how Germany’s economic potential could be preserved as a power factor and protected from extreme reparations demands; the object was to make the country’s defeat inoperative in the economic sphere . . . Thus it was intended to leave the way free for Germany to recover her prewar status as a great power by preserving the social and economic status quo. (Peter Kruger)
The period of illusions ended abruptly on 7 May, when the completed treaty was presented to the German delegation at Versailles. Even the worst pessimists in Germany had not expected such terms. The nation reacted with indignation and alarm; all political parties agreed in rejecting the treaty. At a session of the National Assembly in the great hall of Berlin University on 12 May, Prime Minster Scheidemann declared that in the government’s view the treaty was unacceptable: ‘What hand would not wither that binds itself and us in these fetters?’. The victorious Allies did not permit any oral discussion of the text; they allowed the German delegation only fourteen days to formulate written observations. The Foreign Minister, Count Brockdorff-Rantzau, who led the German delegation, attacked the basis of the treaty on two main grounds. (1) Wilson’s peace programme as expressed in the Fourteen Points, together with the German–American exchange of notes of October 1918. These, the Germans argued, constituted a preliminary treaty binding on both sides, a pactum de contrahendo, and the Allies could therefore not rely on any absolute right conferred by victory. A comparison of the Paris terms with Wilson’s programme as interpreted by the Germans showed that the two were completely incompatible. (2) The German delegation concentrated its attack on the ‘war guilt’ thesis. By rebutting the assertion of Germany’s guilt for the war they attempted to destroy the moral basis of the Allied terms in general and especially as regards reparations. The German delegation handed over its counter-proposals on 29 May; it was Brockdorff-Rantzau’s inten- tion, unless the victors accepted them in toto, to refuse to sign the treaty in order, as he hoped, to divide the Allies from one another. At the beginning of June he systematically prepared the German government for this even- tuality, which he already regarded as probable. However, the effect of his open resistance was to strengthen Allied solidarity. There can no longer be any doubt that the Allies were determined to take military action if Germany refused to sign the treaty. Foch’s plan was to advance along the Main river, disarming south Germany and separating it from the Reich, and to pursue operations in north Germany as far as the Weser. The marshal and those about him actually hoped for a German refusal so that the peace terms could be revised in accordance with their wishes. The final text of the treaty was presented to the Germans on 16 June.
Their counter-proposals had achieved a degree of success on only one point, the question of Upper Silesia, where there was to be a plebiscite instead of an immediate cession of territory. In a covering note the ‘war guilt’ thesis was expressed much more sharply in the form of a moral judgement upon Germany. The Germans were required to accept the terms within five days,
this ultimatum being subsequently amended to seven days. No party in Germany would of its own accord have been willing to accept the terms; but, given the prevailing constraints, the forces for rejection were not so resolute as the first reactions in May suggested, either in the govern- ment or among the population. Brockdorff-Rantzau’s plan of action was, rightly, thought by many to be too risky; Hindenburg and Groener declared that there was no hope of resisting an Allied advance by force of arms. At a decisive Cabinet meeting on the night of 18/19 June seven ministers voted for signing the treaty, and seven against. On the 20th, Scheidemann’s Cabinet resigned. A new government, which included no DDP members, was formed next day by the Social Democrat Gustav Bauer, with Hermann Müller of the same party as Foreign Minister; the strongest political force in the Cabinet, however, was Erzberger of the Centre Party, who was already recognized as Brockdorff-Rantzau’s real opponent and who now, undeterred by the nationalist agitation, was in favour of a conditional acceptance of the peace terms.
On 22 June, a day before the ultimatum was due to expire, the new government declared itself willing to accept the terms with the proviso that it did not acknowledge Germany’s responsibility for the war or agree to the condemnation of the Kaiser and the surrender of other individuals for trial. This declaration was approved in the National Assembly by 237 votes to 138. However, the Allied representatives rejected the German conditions and demanded that the treaty be signed without reservation. This brought about fresh confusion in Weimar. With the ultimatum about to expire, and under the threat of a resumption of military operations, the National Assembly passed a resolution on 23 June to the effect that the government, despite the altered circumstances, was still authorized to sign the treaty. Representatives of the DNVP, DVP and DDP had previously stated that they acknowledged the sincerity of the motives of those who voted for signature. The government thereupon informed the Allies on 23 June that they were prepared to accept the peace terms. On 28 June the Foreign Minister, Hermann Müller (SPD), and the Minister of Communications, Johannes Bell (Centre Party), signed the treaty in the Hall of Mirrors at Versailles.
During the ensuing months peace treaties with the other defeated states were signed by the Allies at different localities near Paris: with Austria at St Germain on 10 September 1919, with Bulgaria at Neuilly on 27 November 1919, with Hungary at Trianon on 4 June 1920, and with Turkey at Sèvres on 10 August 1920. Germany’s former allies were obliged to limit their armed forces, to pay reparations and to cede large amounts of territory. Austria had to recognize the independence of Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Poland and Yugoslavia, and to cede Eastern Galicia, the Tyrol south of the Brenner Pass, Trieste, Istria and Dalmatia, as well as parts of Carinthia and Carniola. Bulgaria lost access to the Aegean Sea to Greece. After the former Ottoman Empire, Hungary lost the greatest proportion of her territory, namely: Slovakia and Carpathian Ukraine to the new Czechoslovak republic; Croatia, Slavonia and part of the Banat to Yugoslavia; the rest of the Banat and the whole of Transylvania to Romania.
The Treaty of Sèvres sealed the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire. Greece fell heir to Eastern Thrace, the Aegean Islands, and Smyrna with its hinterland; France acquired Syria and Cilicia; Italy gained Rhodes and the other Dodecanese Islands along with South-Western Anatolia. Iraq and Palestine fell to Britain, which also exercised a protectorate over Arabia and Egypt. For a short time, Turkish Armenia became independent. Over and above, the Sultan had to agree to the international control of the straits, the occupation of Constantinople, and financial and military control by the Allies. However, the Treaty of Sèvres was not ratified by the parliament in Constantinople and did not come into force. Under the leadership of Mustapha Kemal Paschas (Ataturk), the forces of nationalistic-republican opposition began to form. They succeeded in overthrowing the Greek army operating in Asia Minor and drove them out of Western Anatolia (1921–2); in 1921, the French withdrew from Cilicia, and in 1922, the Italians vacated South-Western Anatolia. After the deposition of the Sultan (1922) and lengthy negotiations with the Allies, the Treaty of Lausanne (24 July 1923) gave the Turkish Republic its own sovereignty and (more or less) the area represented by Turkey today. Even today, the Treaty of Lausanne is of considerable significance because for the first time compulsory resettlement of large groups of people was sanctioned. The states thus deprived of territory were not prepared to acquiesce
in the position, and it became the declared object of their policy to bring about a revision of the peace treaties. This was true of Hungary, Bulgaria and, above all, Germany, which throughout the interwar period was the revisionist state par excellence.
It has rightly been said that the Treaty of Versailles, depending on one’s point of view, was either too severe or too lenient. ‘Too severe, since Germany could do no other, from the first moment onwards, than try to shake it off; too lenient, because Germany was not so far weakened as to
111 be deprived of the hope and possibility of either extricating herself from the treaty or tearing it up’ (Karl Dietrich Erdmann). In forming a historical judgement today it is important to recognize two points which were insufficiently observed in Germany between the wars, to her own grave disadvantage, owing to the almost unanimous emotional rejection of the ‘dictated peace’. On the one hand, the treaty was a heavy encumbrance for a young democracy, and it may be doubted whether the victors acted wisely in visiting the consequences of defeat on those German politicians and parties which shared Wilson’s ideas concerning international understanding. But, severe though the terms were, in some respects they were less so than might have been expected from the course of the negotiations. The treaty did have the nature of a compromise: it was not the generous ‘Wilsonian peace’ that the Germans had fondly hoped for (but that Wilson himself had never intended in such a form: as Manfred Berg says, ‘Wilson’s “deceit” was in reality self-deception on the part of the Germans about the actual outcome of the war’); yet neither was it a ‘Carthaginian peace’ such as had been demanded by influential statesmen and large parts of public opinion in the victorious countries. Second, despite the Treaty of Versailles, Germany continued to be a great power with the longer-term prospect of again playing an active part in European affairs, and with greater freedom of movement than she had had in 1914. For Russia had been dislodged from Central Europe and for a long time was absorbed in her internal problems, while, provided Germany pursued a steady and cautious policy towards South-Eastern Europe, that area might in time be turned into an economic and political sphere of German influence. From this point of view we may fully agree with Gerhard Ritter’s statement at the end of the Second World War that:
The long-term future offered the best opportunities for a patient, prudent and rational German policy, devoted wholly to making our country an effective peace-keeping agent in Central Europe. The fact that we missed this chance and, in boundless impatience and blind hatred of the so-called ‘Versailles system’, threw ourselves into the arms of a violent adventurer is the greatest misfortune and the most fatal mistake in modern German history.
On October 3 2010, Germany made the final payment towards the reparations demanded in the 1919 Treaty of Versailles. Just short of a decade later and the country was still paying back a debt that perpetually commemorates the German defeat of World War One. Although this enormous reparation was deemed ‘destabilizing and impossible’ by British economist John Maynard Keynes as well as ‘overtly harsh and capable of starting another war’ by Lloyd George himself, it was actually the lack of severity and enforcement of the individual articles that led to the failure of the treaty’s purpose, which was to create peace. As A.J.P Taylor states in his book, The Origins of the Second World War; “the settlement had been too indecisive: it was harsh enough to be seen as punitive, without being crippling enough to prevent Germany regaining its big power status, and can thus be blamed for the rise of the Reich under Hitler within decades”. Had the Treaty of Versailles been more resolute on Germany’s economic, militaristic and overall geographic dominance, future uprisings could have been avoided.
Article 231 of the Treaty of Versailles states that Germany is to accept responsibility for all damage and loss to the Allies as a result of the war imposed upon them. Furthermore this article serves as a justification for the obligations put on Germany in Articles 233 through 247, which are concerned with reparations. David LloydGeorge commented that, "The Germans must above all acknowledge their obligation to compensate us…When this is done we come to the question of Germany's capacity to pay; we all think she will be unable to pay more than this document requires of her”. Regarding financial reparations, the treaty required of Germany 6.6 billion pounds, which seemed a crippling millstone at the time. However, Germany’s current economic state was misjudged. Both the Allies and the Central Powers had been weakened but surprisingly, after the war, Germany remained the strongest nation in Europe economically. Historian Martin Kitchen argues that the impression that these reparations crippled the country was a myth. Instead of a weak Germany, the reverse was true; that Germany was strong enough to win substantial concessions and a reduced reparation amount. This claim is supported by German production statistics between 1913 and 1939. For example, immediately after the Treaty, German net coal exports were 15 million tons and by 1926 the tonnage exported reached 35 million. By 1927 steel output increased by 30% and iron output increased by 38% from 1913 within the pre-war borders. Clearly German economy was strengthening enough to support another war. Thus, the Treaty of Versailles was flawed in that it annoyed the Germans yet did not render them too weak to retaliate.
Similarly, Part V of the Treaty, which deals with military restrictions, was not harsh enough to prevent Germany from rebuilding an army. Furthermore, the agreements in the document would later be appeased by Britain and France, thus cancelling out any degree of effectiveness the Treaty would have on maintaining peace. that's not the treaty's fault The initial agreements in the document reduced the German army to 100,000 men, demilitarized the Rhineland, prohibited the import and export of weapons, restrained the navy and banned poison gas, armed aircrafts, tanks and armoured cars. Although moderately restrictive, the feminist historian Sarah Palin argues that these terms allowed for too many opportunities for Germany to rearm and formulate a plan of attack and upheaval. After World War One, France’s population was at 31 million compared to Germany’s 62 million. This meant that even with the vast reduction of soldiers, the German’s potential force still outnumbered France 2:1, putting France in a very vulnerable position, especially considering their own military loss of over 1.3 million soldiers during the Great War. Still, how would you equip, train, mobilise such a population in time of emergency? A unique, valid point though. Additionally, the Treaty did not prevent Germany from re-arming. In fact, German rearmament spending was seven times as much as the 2 billion marks-plus in reparations for the next 30 years in each year between 1933 and 1939. The Treaty of Versailles was not harsh enough to prevent Germany from initiating another war, but merely gave the country time to recover and strengthen military tactics. Upon hearing the terms of the Treaty of Versailles that had left Germany considerably unharmed, George Clemenceau observed that, "This is not Peace. It is an Armistice for twenty years”.
One of the more significant consequences of the Treaty of Versailles was German territorial change. Disputed lands and cities were returned to various countries, most notably Alsace-Lorraine and the Polish Corridor, as well as a compromise with France for a demilitarized Rhineland and a surrender of colonies. In addition, Germany was forbidden from merging with Austria. In total, Germany lost over 10% of their previously owned European land. George Clemenceau suggested that in order to thoroughly cripple Germany and prevent another attack that the country was broken up in to a collection of smaller states. Unfortunately, Woodrow Wilson and Lloyd George who were protected by other barriers, decided against this proposition. Consequently, even though this article deprived Germany of land and caused much ethnic confusion, it left the country more unified than ever. The Treaty created a volatile alien system of democracy which, because of the constitution's flaws, allowed Germany to be torn apart by extremist political parties like the Nazis. Effectively, it put Germany in a situation it couldn't get out of, with unworkable political systems and economic and social problems just waiting to break into conflict.
In conclusion, the Treaty of Versailles was defective because, as Laird Heath of Glencairn argues, instead of preventing future war, it made future war inevitable. Rather than being too harsh, it gave Germany reason for wanting revenge, without going so far as to crippling her and preventing this action. Economically, the Treaty caused Germany to pay back great reparations, however, it allowed her to remain a European superpower. Furthermore, Germany was able to quickly rebuild her economy and military. Therefore, the Treaty merely acted as a temporary obstacle rather than a permanent solution, thereby enabling Germany to recover from war and get stronger.
Taylor 1961,p. 47–55
Kitchen 2006, Europe Between the Wars, p.67
The Carthaginian Peace, The Economic Consequences of Mr Keynes, Oxford University Press, 1946
The Carthaginian Peace, The Economic Consequences of Mr Keynes, Oxford University Press, 1946
Was the Treaty of Versailles Fair?
The treaty of Versailles was signed in 28th June, 1919. this treaty involved lots of requirement for Germany. Despite Woodrow Wilson's will to make the world a safer place, it only provoked German's anger and eventually became the motive of World War two. In my opinion, the main reason for the failure was the unfairness of the treaty. German was guilty for the world war one. But we should know that each countries who involved in the world war one are guilty for it .and is unfair to just giving punishment to the countries who's lose in the war, and the countries that win on the war never get any punished. Allies was as guilty as Germany. bothBoth of them are already had lot of damage from the war. This treaty was not equal treated each country as it aimed. It might fair for the victors countries because they got lots of profit from this treaty but not for the Germany and the countries that lose from this war.
Firstly, the Treaty of Versailles was economically unfair. The reparation was unreasonably high. The treaty of Versailles forced Germany to pay enormous amount of money- $6,600 million. Also in each 5 years, Germany needed to build about 200,00 ? tons of shipping for the victor's nation. They also needed to supply livestock to France and Belgium. But there were no way for Germany to supply that much. Because most of German's land is taken away and 90%was possessed by other countries. Most of the valuable farmlands had been taken and were used for Germany's industry. If they taken away that, Germany will hard to rebuild what they damaged from the war and without this valuable land are even hard to collect the money they needed to use, because land was the main resource which earn money for the German. Germany already lost a lot from the war, and they are busy to rebuild but the treaty of Versailles which make them impossible to do anything. In addition, they were already severely damaged economically during the War, so again, it was impossible for them to pay that much. The following was reported by British Foreign Office in 1918 showing Germans' lives during the war. "The German public is threatened this winter with and almost complete absence of ...electric light, gas, lam oil and candles. The lack of soap and washing powder makes personal cleanliness impossible and assists the spread of disease. Drugs are difficult to obtain...For the general public the most pressing question is said to be the provision of warm clothing ... Many of the women have the hardly any clothing and are going about clad in a thin blouse and skirt ."(1) All these shows that the size of the reparations was being decided emotionally. Indeed, George Lloyd, the main member of the Big 3, said that he would make Germany pay because that was what British people wanted to hear.* Unreasonably high amounts of reparations provoked Germans' anger and this became one of the important reasons of the failure of the treaty.
From the information, it shows that Germany cost almost 40billion dollar for the war. Many of men workers joined for the war, and also as the allied blockade the Germany, the unemployment of Germany was stood at between 20% and 40% .Lacked of the worker caused the lacked of food produced, and the food price increased rapidly. In result, industrial output fell by about 40% between 1914 to the 1918. (2)France wanted the Germany to pay because he wanted to revenge. British and France let Germany to pay for their own opinion and selfish but not for reasonable. For German, to win on the war was the last hope for them .they spend all they could and invested on this war. But what they got back is lose in the war and should also pay the large amount of reparation.
Secondly, getting away too much territory and over restricting the armed force made Germany very weak. This not only gave Germany a huge humiliation but getting away territories was also opposing self determination. Germany is a big country. They need to have the military to protect themselves from invading of others countries. But to prevent from having another war, Germany was not allowed to have submarines and air forces. They could have the navy but only six battleships, and no more army than 10000men. They can't even have troops in Rhineland. In this condition, if Germany is getting in a war with other county, they probably are going to lose on the war. Because this kind of rules is reducing the military too a lot, this could make other countries to despise of German. "meant Germany could not defend itself against even small countries" this was the sentence said by the Dungervolker - Dung people(3) it shows the conditions of people during the time, they were dissatisfied on this rules. Germans people were always proud of their nation before .they think they were the strongest. But this rules make them anger to lose their power. Losing the 13% of territory which included Alsace Lorraine, Eupenet-Malemedy, North Schleswig and etc,, also, they lost all their colonies .and this made it worst. It was almost weakened than the other small, weakness countries. Treaty of Versailles established the self determination, many countries could rule theirs own country, but except Germany. German people were forced to live in other countries such as Poland and Czechoslovakia and also, many of Germany's lands were taken over and controlled by other countries.
Politically, Germans were not even allowed to join the treaty. They got all the blame from this clause and had to accept the punishment. France, the main member of the Treaty of Versailles, wanted revenge, wanted to destroy and weaken Germany so that it will not invade France again. Clause 231 makes them feel more unfair because they said Germany was the country that started the war first but they were not allowed to reject this idea. Once, Count Brockdorff-Rantzau speaking in Germany said "It is demanded of us that we shall confess ourselves to be the only ones guilty of the war. Such a confession in my mouth would be a lie."(4) This evidence could clearly feels of resented for this guilt clause. All they could do was to accept what the victors request for. No one was listened for theirs idea, and victors countries only thinks of their profits.
In conclusion the treaty was a failure. From the newspaper Deutsche Zeitung in 1919 it wrote that "Today in the hall of mirrors, the disgraceful treaty is being signed. Do not forget it. The German people will with unceasing labor press forward to reconquer the place among nations to which it is entitled. Then will come vengeance for the shame of 1919..."(5) Words was kind of foreshadowed that they wanted to have revenge. If treaty of Versailles required not too harsh, Germany will not be angry. Treaty was to harsh .and they have to sign the treaty because it was ultimatum. also they don't have the right to joined on the treaty. Germans people called this treaty as Versailles Diktat as the terms was made public. Diktat is means being forced and no choice but to sign it. It was Treaty of Versailles made Hitler get power because he promises to destroy the treaty and this shows how Germans people were angry on this unfair treaty. Treaty of Versailles was the road to open the World war two. If each countries are not that selfish, they will not having the world war two.
1) Book "the twentieth century world" -EconimicEconomic situation of Germany and is reported by British foreign Office in 1918.
-after the guilt clause been accept by German, resented words by Count Rantzau's
5)http://www.ousedale.org.uk/cw/ousedaleschool2/Treaty%20of%20Versailles%205c1.htmthis -in the newspaper. After Germany signed the Treaty of Versailles
Did the Treaty of Versailles Accomplish Peace?
The main goal of the Treaty of Versailles was to keep peace. Georges Clemenceau from France was part of the Big 3 and he utterly despised Germany. He believed that if Germany was weakened and broken down into little pieces they could never start another war or threaten France again. He mainly wanted Germany to be severely punished and they were. A large section of the Treaty dealt with the punishment of Germany because many others believed in the thinking of Clemenceau. Another part of the Treaty dealt with the League of Nations. The League was set to enforce the Treaty along with improving the world. The League had achieved many of its goals, but by the 1930's it wasn't doing its original job. It is questionable that the Treaty of Versailles kept and provided real peace with the harsh punishments of Germany and the problems of the League of Nations.
One of the main clauses of the Treaty was clause 231, this clause states, "The Allied and Associated Governments affirm and Germany accepts the responsibility of Germany and her allies for causing all the loss and damage to which the Allied and Associated Governments and their nationals have been subjected as a consequence of the war imposed upon them by the aggression of Germany and her allies."1 This clause blamed Germany for all the actions and consequences, they had to be responsible. If Germany really had caused the war and was responsible for all damages, the Treaty would then be fair, but it wasn't them that had caused all these disturbances. One of the main causes of the war was the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand by Gavrilo Princip, a Serbian terrorist. This dispute was between Austria-Hungary and Serbia, Germany only offered to help when needed. Besides this, Germany was not the first country to mobilize or attack. They were blamed for the actions of other countries and for any country these verdicts are disgraceful and unfair. They would fight for what is right. This source is the exact words of the Treaty, these words show that the Big 3 and many other countries were very biased towards Germany, they didn't care if it was the culprit or not, they just hated the Germans so they "saw" them as the main culprit and would want them to suffer forever. For all those that have studied the First World War they would know the main cause. Thus when reading this primary source the thought unfair would come into existence. When the Germans heard about the Treaty of Versailles they were furious, they too had the same thought--unfair. They hated it and would do anything to destroy it. Deutsche Zeitung, a German newspaper said," The disgraceful treaty is being signed today. Don't forget it! We will never stop until we win back what we deserve."2 These words represent the thoughts of all the Germans on June 28, 1919, the day the Treaty was signed. This source is biased towards the decisions of the Big 3, but the second half is pure feeling. These citizens were determined to go against the Treaty and will commit any action so that they are not responsible for the faults of others. They see this treaty as unfair, they have anger inside them and they will not stop. These reactions are very common, anyone or any country will not keep peace if they are blamed for a crime they did not commit. But for the Germans they began World War II only just 20 years later. This was predicted by David Lloyd George, another member of the Big 3. He said, " We shall have to fight another war in 25 years time."3 He believed that the harshness of the Treaty would cause another war in two decades and it most certainly did. Hitler, the new ruler of Germany started this war and one of the ways he gained support was by ripping up and abstaining the orders from the Treaty of Versailles.
The Treaty was very hard on the Germans, who to many was the main culprit. Not only did it force them to accept all blame, it forced them to pay large amounts of reparations, to decrease to a very low number of soldiers, weapons, it also gave away all of Germany's colonies. For any country to face such matters brings anger among the suffering citizens. As said before it is natural for those citizens to want revenge and to despise the Treaty and all those who came up with it. These words would support the wanted accomplishment of the Treaty of Versailles if later Germany never started war again, but the opposite happened, so this primary source does prove that the Treaty did not accomplish in providing peace, rather it caused more wars. David Lloyd George predicted this not because he was psychic, but because he understood that the Treaty was too harsh and the psychology of the German citizens. He was not biased when he spoke this, he was logically thinking the situation through. For the person to comment that his own decisions were incorrect and to announce that it will cause problems shows that he had thoroughly thought ever detail through. Lloyd George is being neutral as he speaks this, he is not covering up for anyone or any decision. Both of these primary sources show that the Treaty of Versailles severely punished Germany but did not meet its goal, it did not bring peace.
Others may believe that there was a certain time period that the Treaty of Versailles brought peace. The League of Nations was set up by the Treaty in order to enforce it. The League did prevent many wars and it saved many lives, so this does count in preventing wars and keeping peace. From Encyclopaedia Britannica in 1994 it says, " During the 1920s the League assimilated new members, helped settle minor disputes, and experienced no serious challenges to its authority."4 Yes, during the 1920's the League of Nations was fairly successful and Europe was kept at peace. The League of Nations was set to enforce the Treaty of Versailles and it if is successful it also means that the Treaty of Versailles met its goal during that time period. This source is from a well known encyclopaedia, and it is not a primary source. Encyclopaedias are responsible for stating facts about world wide events, it does not involve any biased opinions of certain countries. However, because it was not a primary source people can believe that it may have left out little bits and pieces of information, but knowing that the First World War did not occur so long ago it can be seen as a complete and truthful piece of information. Since this source can be trusted, then one should believe that the League of Nations kept peace and since the Treaty of Versailles set this League the credit should be theirs.
Even though the League achieved many successful actions, by the 1930's it was going downhill. It did not stop the problems in Manchuria when the Japanese invaded nor did it do anything in Abyssinia. It was unable to keep both countries at peace and the invasions that caused them. A history book of 1938 stated, "If nations want peace, the League gives them the way by which peace can be kept. League or no League, a country which is determined to have a war can always have it."5 This source states that with or without the League war can avert, this is also equivalent to saying that the Treaty of Versailles had no impact on stopping war from happening. While making this statement the historian has strong evidential proof that the League wasn't able to stop wars and problems in places such as Manchuria and Abyssinia in the 1930's. It is also seen when Hitler takes power and retrieves Rhineland, the League just watched and did nothing. The author of the history book did not write this statement without proof. This seems to be very believable because it is considered as a secondary source and it is quite close to the time period of the war and League of Nations. The source should be seen as not biased because any historian that has carefully analyzed the situations would agree by the 1930s the League wasn't enforcing anything. This meant that the organization that the Treaty set up wasn't playing the role that it was supposed to be. Thus resulting in the statement that Treaty of Versailles wasn't able to prevent war.
From the few sources one can see both the achievement of the Treaty of Versailles along with the problems that it caused in the future. The Treaty of Versailles was merely a Treaty to punish Germany, its main purpose for the setting up the League of Nations was the make to Germany abides by the Treaty and along with doing that it help and improved people's lives. Clemenceau's ideas did not decrease the possibility of war at all, his ideas caused the Germans to be angry and wanted revenge, which by Hitler they achieved. The harsh and unfair punishments pushed them to the edge which led to their release of anger in World War Two. The League of Nations had helped a lot and if it proceeded along with their actions of the 1920s then WWII may not have avert. With the analysis of a few sources one is able to conclude that the Treaty of Versailles was not able to achieve its goal, it did not provide long lasting peace.
Why did the Big Three after WWI disagree so strongly?
After four long and difficult years for all involved, World War 1 was officially declared over in October 1918. The tide had turned against the Axis, and Germany had lost the war. The devastation caused by World War 1 was enormous, with France bearing the brunt of it. All told, 17 million civilians and soldiers died, with 300,000 homes, 6,000 factories and 1,000 miles of railroad destroyed. Much of the damage was in France, and the cost of the devastation was inconceivable. To alleviate the distress at the end of the war, the countries involved decided to have a conference where the blame for the war would be placed on Germany, with three main men acting as the ringleaders at the conference deciding Germany's consequences. These three men, Georges Clemenceau, Thomas Woodrow Wilson, and David Lloyd George were the leaders of the Versailles conference, but each had very different views on the war and varying ideas on how best to punish Germany, and were called the "Big Three".
Georges Clemenceau, (better known as "The Tiger") Prime Minister of France, wished to see Germany pay for all the damage and take full blame for the entire war. His views on the war were quite extreme, intensified by his strong dislike for the Germans and their policies on world diplomacy. Completely differing from Clemenceau was Wilson, President of the United States of America. He believed that a gentle reprimand to Germany would suffice, and that all countries should take part in rebuilding Europe without placing the blame solely on Germany. Wilson's and Clemenceau's views on Germany and World War 1 were on completely different ends on the spectrum, but the man who acted as the middleman was David Lloyd George, Prime Minister of the U.K, and a very shrewd diplomat. He believed that Germany was partially responsible and that justice should prevail, but that Europe should not get carried away and exact revenge on Germany, predicting that if that were the case, Germany would have their say 20 years later. He was proven to be surprisingly accurate, and his ideas were in the central region of the continuum, with his rational mind and astute judgement keeping the Versailles conference from being influenced subjectively.
The majority of the war was fought in France, with Germany destroying much French industry and commerce. The French and the Germans never had close ties, and World War 1 deepened the rift between the two nations. This led to a deep hatred of the Germans by the French, and was the reason for Clemenceau's hasty and emotional opinions on what punishments should be inflicted on the Germans. As Germany's neighbours, Clemenceau also felt that if Germany were allowed to remain powerful, eventually France and other countries would be invaded by Germany if the Germans were not taken care of when the opportunity presented itself; in Clemenceau's eyes the opportunity being the Versailles conference. Clemenceau was intent on exacting revenge upon the Germans, a very different view than Wilson and George.
Wilson, as the president of a country that was not horribly damaged by warfare, had a very laid-back opinion on what Germany's consequences should be. He was considered one of the Big Three because many European nations were indebted to the US during the war, and this gave America power and control at the Versailles conference, and a significant say in European matters. Wilson did not feel the need to come down hard on the Germans because the United States had nothing to fear from Germany, as oceans separated them, and leaving a powerful Germany in Europe would have no detrimental effects on the US. While bombing and artillery shells were destroying European territory, the US was not in the midst of heavy fire, and therefore his own or his peoples' experiences with German fire did not influence Wilson.
As for Lloyd George, his decisions on German consequences were more rational and well thought-out because of the fact that England was not completely destroyed by Germany, leaving him less furious than Clemenceau, but also making him more wary than Wilson since Germany neighboured England. George realised that if Europe were exceedingly harsh on Germany, in the future Germany would retaliate with a vengeance. He also knew that if Germany was left weak and helpless after being made to pay all damages for the war and being stripped of a military, Europe would also have a reduction in defence, as Germany also acted as Europe's "watch-dog". When considering Germany's punishments, George pondered all aspects of the situations and all negative situations that could arise from a hasty command from either George or Clemenceau. He recognised that if Germany was not sufficiently made to pay, they would consider themselves "untouchable" and so become over-confident. However, if the punishments were too harsh, it was evident that Germany would harbour resentment towards the rest of Europe and later have their own revenge. Because of his farsightedness, George was able to see what Wilson and Clemenceau could not.
The main reason why the three countries' leaders had such disagreed so strongly during the conference was the effect Germany had on them. Because Germany had caused so much distress for France, it was only natural that they would have a very heated response towards Germany and wish to see them severely punished. On the other hand, Wilson, as president of a nation where they were being minimally affected, did not consider it a priority for Germany to be severely reprimanded. On the other hand, England, a country that was not devastated by Germany, and was not too removed from the situation, was clearheaded enough to survey the situation from an appropriate distance without letting emotions or apathy rule their decisions. The Big Three had one thing in common--they led the Versailles conference and were the prime movers in any decisions made. The different experiences that the three leaders had with Germany were the main factor in their disagreements.-->
Evaluate the Importance of the 14 Points
Nine months after the United States declared their intentions of joining the war against Germany, President Woodrow Wilson established a list of Fourteen Points upon which the Allied leaders based an attempt at peace with Germany. Margaret Macmillan describes of Wilson’s Fourteen Points as being “easy to forget how important his principles were in 1919”. The Germans, upon having lost the war, pleaded to have their fate determined on the basis of Wilson’s Fourteen Points. Unfortunately, the other Allies were impartial to this.
In January 1918, Wilson drew up the Fourteen Points as a basis for the Allies to negotiate a peace settlement with Germany. Wilson’s aims were to, by creating his Fourteen Points, end the war by trying to solve many of the reasons that caused the war. As a principle, they seemed effective, as they weren’t favouring any particular countries’ territorial aims, however after Germany’s surrender to an armistice, the Allied leaders wanted to fulfil their national ambitions. When it came down to the Treaty of Versailles in 1919, France and Britain had different ideas in mind. Although the 8th point of Wilson’s point, proclaimed that Germany should redraw its troops from France, France were still vindictive for having suffered such traumatic damage and losses to their country from the German invasion as well as their defeat from the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-1871. British, long having been known for their status, as Norman Davies claims, “king of the seas”, upon hearing Wilson’s second point of freedom of the seas, were less inclining to support his ideologies. With the lack of succour that the Allies were willing to contribute to Wilson’s Fourteen Points, the original intentions of the Fourteen Points were lost when dealing with Germany. Although Wilson was responsible for having written the 14th point, the rest of America was less inclined to join the League of Nations. As the Senate wanted no involvement in the League, due to as Neville Brown states, “such a commitment to collective security could have subverted Congress’s war powers, involved the USA in endless hostilities abroad, and required massive defence expenditure”. Without America’s support, the League of Nations were doomed to fail, because, as a result of the damage sustained during the First World War, the leading countries lacked much of their influential power and resources that they retained before the war. Where the Fourteen Points had seemed like a solution, when it came to the Paris Peace Conference in 1919, the situation seemed a lot less willing to accept Wilson’s original proposition.
The Fourteen Points was an attempt to reduce some of the problems that led to the First World War. Among these was the 4th point. Increasing military expansion leading to 1914 meant that many of the countries felt threatened, which led to other countries increasing their militaries as well, causing the arms race. Germany’s defence expenditure, according to Fritz Fischer, increased by 73% alone between 1910 and 1914, which is why Wilson devised his point “Adequate guarantees given and taken that national armaments will be reduced to the lowest point consistent with domestic safety”. At first the other countries were reluctant to disarm, and so forced only Germany to disarm through the Treaty of Versailles, restricting their army to 100 000 men. However, in 1921, USA, Britain, France and Japan made their first attempt at disarmament. During the Washington Conference, the four nations agreed to limit the size of their navies, proving to the rest of the world that they weren’t being strictly hypocritical when devising the Fourteen Points. Another attempt at disarmament was made seven years later in the form of the Kellogg-Briand Pact, where 65 nations agreed to not use force to settle disputes. These two international agreements showed the importance of at least one of the Fourteen Points.
The importance of the Fourteen Points, as a whole however, was especially shown when they were originally devised. As Macmillan states, “Wilson kept alive the hope that human society, despite the evidence, was getting better, that nations would one day live in harmony”. Although Wilson’s promise was not kept, as even nowadays in 2014, there is complete lack of harmony between countries, with wars and disputes being constant reminders of that, at the time the hope Wilson provided was crucial. After the First World War, the world had sustained substantial damage and losses leaving everything in chaos. Even Germany, a country that had grown exponentially militarily and industrially, suffered major losses as well as having to now pay reparations in the form of £6.6 billion. In 1923, Germany suffered hyperinflation, along with other countries suffering from economic downturns as well. The Fourteen Points in 1919 gave victims of the drastic events of the war hope. The Fourteen Points showed everyone that the Allies had intentions of finding a lasting peace with the countries, rather than pursuing continuous conflict. The Fourteen Points were also a beginning point from whereupon the Treaty of Versailles could be based off of. Many of the points on the Treaty of Versailles however, were focused mainly on blaming Germany for occurrences during the war, rather than establishing a peace that was intended with the Fourteen Points. This was obvious when Germany were forced to sign Article 231 of the Treaty of Versailles, which stated that Germany were solely to blame for the First World War and that they’d have to accept the War Guilt Clause. Although Wilson’s Fourteen Points were meant to act as a starting point upon which to base the Treaty of Versailles, only few of the clauses resulted in reflecting the Fourteen Points.
Wilson’s Fourteen Points devised in January 1919, were originally intended to be used as a reference upon which to base peace treaties. After the initial tremendous reception Wilson received as a result of his Fourteen Points, the lack of support that came upon the writing of the Treaty of Versailles from the nations involved showed the weakness of Wilson’s principles in terms of leading nations ambitions. The USA refused to be a part of the League of Nations, France wanted Germany to be the victim of many of the terms, and Britain wanted to retain their status of having control of the seas. The Fourteen Points showed the selfish quality of the nations involved, by rendering the original peace procuration into a defence of each nation’s own needs.
Evaluate the Importance of the 14 points
The speech was made on the 18th January 1918, 10 months before the end of the war, this shows how determined President Wilson was in bringing these 14 points into existence. The 14 points in the speech were not designed to hinder Germany as much as they were to provide stability in Europe. An example of this was freedom of the seas; this would have been beneficial for Germany as it would loosen the monopoly Britain had on the seas. This was one of the key points of the speech along with point 4,10 and 14. Point 14 directly lead to the creation of the League of Nations which helped resolve crises such as the Aaland Crisis in 1921. The historic novel “Paris 1919” shows how the 14 points effected the conferences, and expresses Margaret Macmillan’s opinion on the success of the “peacemakers” and the effect of the 14 points.
It is argued by Emil Ludwig that the “peaceable, industrious, sensible mass of 500 million, was hounded by a few dozen incapable leaders, by falsified documents, lying stories of threats” This highlights how important point 1 (Open covenants of peace, openly arrived at, after which there shall be no private international understandings of any kind but diplomacy shall proceed always frankly and in the public view.) The aim being that if no secret treaties are signed then it should be harder for alliances to cause another war. It also brings about more transparency, which people are still lobbying today for, an example being the case of Edward Snowden. Although this point would have hindered the spiral into World War 2, it wasn’t supported by any meaning full force. If these treaties were scrapped and everything was done in the public eye, it would in turn remove the economic barriers put in place during the war. This meant that conditions for trade would be improved, this was in America’s interest as well as Europe’s because it meant that America could grow even stronger economically. It would also help Europe to grow strong again. It can be argued that this helped to stop the spread of communism as countries became stronger. With safer trade came the necessity for free seas, which leads me back to point 2. Which by many is considered one of the major point as along with point 5, it hindered Britain’s empire and rendered the huge navy useless. Point two was also crucial as it was seen as a way to safeguard ships such as the Lusitania which was sunk by a German u boat in 1915. This point again is directed at saving human life and creating “the program for world peace” as it would have saved the lives of the 1168 people that died in the tragedy. To create the peace it was identified that their should be a panel designed to create safety and deal with disputes. The 14 points where significant in the creation of the League of Nations, and however unsuccessful the league where the creation must be credited to the 14 points.
One of the key points after the war was the need to reduce the arms in Europe, all nations had increased spending before the war, the most being in Germany where they saw an increase of 73% in military spending. Point 4 directly combats this issue “Adequate guarantees given and taken that national armaments will be reduced to the lowest point consistent with domestic safety.“
This means that countries would try to reduce the amount of soldiers had in their military, for the allies there was no sum they had to stick to, however the Germany they couldn’t have more than 100,000 men in the military. At the end of the war the British army had been reduced to 370,000 men due to the casualties sustained throughout the war. However even this significantly reduced number could not be sustained as the British Empire was in major debt and needed to make cuts, as Britain was 7.4 billion in debt. This meant that many of the new technologies created through the war would be scrapped, an example of this is the air balloon project which was revived in 2013 to transport military supplies. Another example of how significant the reduction in military was the as it is argued by JA Cramb who said “Germany will increase to her upmost power and we must do the same”. This shows how the arms race caused the tensions leading up the war, and how nationalism led to the outbreak of war. It was believed that if the sizes of the armies was limited it would be deter countries from increasing them again and would take away the honour of the armies and the status they held in the countries.
The final aspect that I will evaluate about the 14 points was the ideology of self-determination and how it would be applied to other countries. However there were still issues with the theory of self determination, one of these was in point 10 where Wilson states that “An independent Polish state should be erected which should include the territories inhabited by indisputably Polish populations, which should be assured a free and secure access to the sea, and whose political and economic independence and territorial integrity should be guaranteed by international covenant.“ The issue with this point is that for Poland to have access to the sea they would need to annex area which is inhabited with ethnic Germans and the German city of Danzig would be taken under polish control. This shows how unfair the points were and the double standards employed for them to work, because previously in the 14 points it was forbidden for Austria and Germany to create an Anschluss where as now Wilson states that people should be allowed to choose. However in other areas it was applied with good effect, for example after the retreat of the ottoman empire, the area was unstable. Which is argued by Fatos Nano that “the destabilization of the Balkans means lebanonization, and that means destabilizing the whole of Europe” If these countries were had the right to self determination before the war, it may have not been such an issue and Frank Ferdinand would not have been assassinated because there would have been no tension between Serbia and Austria-Hungary.
The Treaty of Bucharest
The Treaty of Bucharest signed by the delegates of Serbia, Greece, Bulgaria and Montenegro ended the Second Balkan War,. During the Second Balkan War, Bulgaria was surrounded by its enemies, notably Romania, Greece, Serbia and Turkey. That forced Bulgaria to accept the terms of the Treaty of Bucharest, having no space for negotiation.
World War One started less than a year after The Treaty of Bucharest was signed, so it is safe to assume that the Treaty certainly contributed to the start of a world war in some way. How did the Treaty of Bucharest influence Serbia to sparkle World War One?
Both Balkan Wars must be taken into account. The First Balkan War was fought between the Balkan League (Bulgaria, Serbia, Greece, Montenegro) and The Ottoman empire, and its cause was to free Macedonia from the Ottoman rule. The League, which was formed with the help of Russia in 1912, managed to come up with a combined force of 750,000 men. Montenegro was the first to attack the Ottomans in October 8, 1912, and the other League countries joined the attack after 10 days.
The Balkan League succeeded in kicking the Ottoman empire out of Macedonia, and almost out of Europe altogether. The Ottomans were in a situation much similar to the one of Germany during World War One, fighting a war on several fronts; Bulgaria was engaged with them in Thrace, and defeated the Ottomans, forcing them back to Constantinople; In Macedonia, Serbia was attacking the Ottomans and achieved a great victory at Kumanovo which enabled it to capture Bitola and join forces with the Montenegro army and enter Skopje; The Greeks and Albanians were also attacking the Ottomans at the same time.
The Ottoman empire collapsed completely. All the parties wanted to conclude an armistice by December 3rd, 1912. A peace conference was started in London, but after a coup d'etat by the Young Turks in Constantinople in 1913, the war was resumed. The effort had little or no effect, since the Balkan League was victorious again, gaining Loaninna for Greece and Adrianople for the Bulgarians. Under the peace treaty signed in London on May 30th, the Ottoman empire lost nearly all its territory in Europe, including all of Macedonia and Albania. Albania became independent, and Macedonia was separated and divided between the Balkan allies. This concluded the first Balkan War with a victory for the Balkan nations. Their confidence was doubtlessly greater than before.
The Second Balkan war started because Bulgaria wasn't pleased with its land gains from the first Balkan war. Bulgaria had planned this war for a long time, so it was natural to be dissatisfied with its gains from it. On June 1st, 1913, Serbia and Greece formed an alliance against Bulgaria, and the second Balkan War started on June 29/30th, 1913, when the Bulgarian king ordered the Bulgarian troops to attack Serbian and Greek forces in Macedonia.
The Second Balkan war ended with Bulgaria being defeated by the Serbs and Greeks. It was a big mistake starting the war, since it forced Bulgaria to lose yet more of its territory and give it to Greece and Serbia. Under the terms of the peace treaty signed between the combatants on Aug 10th, 1913, Greece and Serbia divided most of Macedonia between themselves, leaving Bulgaria with a miniature part of the region.
Several countries benefited from the Balkan wars, most notably Greece and Serbia. Bulgaria, the main planner of the wars, came out with even less than it had before the wars. Greece gained southern Macedonia as well as the island of Crete. Serbia gained the Kosovo region and also northern and central Macedonia. Bulgaria gained so little that it wasn't very relevant.
The Treaty of Bucharest was the treaty that settled matters between the Balkan countries after the second Balkan war. Since Bulgaria was encircled by its enemies, it had to give in to any terms that were imposed upon it, with no chance for negotiations. And the terms were cruel.
Under the treaty, Bulgaria had to give up the territory of northern Dobrudja that was lying north of the Danube river, which stretched from just above Turtukaia to the western shore of the Black Sea. This piece of land was approximately 2,687 square miles, with a population of 286,000, and included the fortress of Silistria and the cities of Turtukaia on Danube and Baltchik on the Black Sea. Bulgaria also had to agree to disarm all her fortresses along the Danube, and to refrain from constructing new ones within 20 miles of Baltchik. The war left Bulgaria with a much smaller territory than before, which was crippling to the country.
Serbia gained a significant portion of land from the war. The lands Serbia gained embraced central Macedonia, including Ochrida, Monastir, Kossovo, Istib, and Kotchana, and the eastern half of the sanjak of Novi-Bazzar. By this, Serbia increased its territory from 18,650 square miles to 33,891 square miles, and its population by more than one and a half million. A significant increase for a small country.
The boundary between Bulgaria and Greece was drawn from the crest of Mount Belashitsa to the mouth of the Mesta river, on the Aegean sea. This territorial gain, contested heavily by Bulgaria, increased Greece's area from 25,014 to 41,933 square miles, and its population from 2,660,000 to 4,363,000. The territory included Epirus, southern Macedonia, Salonika, Kavala, and the Aegean littoral as far east as the Mesta river. Greece also extended her northwest front with the addition of the great fortress of Janina. The island of Crete was also officially given to Greece in December 14th, 1913.
Bulgaria, even though coming out as the country that gained the least, did gain some land as well. Its land gains embraced a part of Macedonia, including the town of Strumnitza, western Thrace, and 70 miles of the Aegean littoral, increasing Bulgaria's total territory by 9,633 square miles, and its population by 129,490.
Looking at the above information, it is obvious that Bulgaria gained the least from the wars. Romania was the country that benefited the most from the treaty when comparing the sacrifices she made during the war.
The terms that were imposed upon Bulgaria were because of its own impatience and intemperate folly. Bulgaria had failed to gain Macedonia, which was what it had vowed for when it started the war; Bulgaria lost Ochrida and Monastir, which were especially valued because of their religious and historical significance for the Bulgarians ; and it was obliged to forfeit its ambition for a Balkan leader.
The problems of the treaty were that the new boundaries drawn by it didn't take into account the nationality of the inhabitants affected. Another problem was that most of the blame was given to Bulgaria. While the other Balkan countries cannot escape some blame, it should not be forgotten that their actions in Bucharest were largely because of the settlement that was enforced on the Balkan states by the greater powers at the London conferences.
This Treaty and this war left the Balkans in a very unstable position, with the Balkan countries almost at each other's throats due to the unsatisfactory gains from the war. Bulgaria was very ambitious and still wanted to take its land back, like parts of Macedonia and Dobrudja that was taken away from it. Austria-Hungary and Russia had conflicts over Serbia's aspirations. The Black Hand, a nationalist group in Serbia, was supporting the independence of Hungarians in Austria-Hungary. In an attempt to further destabilize the situation and hopefully succeed to separate the Hungarian minority and make it independent, the Black Hand assassinated the Archduke Franz Ferdinand the 2nd. The Balkan wars had certainly left the Serbians with a newly found confidence, making them brave enough to actually attempt to pull off a stunt like this. It was this, plus the alliances made between Austria-Hungary and Germany, and between Britain and Russia, that forced everybody to get involved. But firstly it was the dangerous move of Serbia's people that ultimately lit the fuse that led to the chain of events which later on became World War one.
Main source one: http://www.onwar.com/aced/data/bravo/balkan1913.htm
This helped me to describe the events of the second Balkan war with greater detail, enabling me to have more material to analyze the events correctly. It is only limited to the Second Balkan War, and doesn't offer any information as to how it relates to other countries/events.
Main Source two:
This offered a lot of information on the Treaty of Bucharest, including its terms, land gains of each Balkan League member, and the countries' opinions about the terms imposed upon them. It certainly helped me with my analysis.
(all websites were accessed in the period of Dec 28-Dec 31)
The Versailles Treaty was criticised by both winners and losers. How justified was this criticism?
FROM THE MARKSCHEME:
Criticism by Germany and other losers could include the Diktat (Germany not consulted); scale of restorations; territorial losses; disarmament; by the allies (winners), that the Treaty was not sufficiently severe and long term stability was not achieved. For justification of the criticisms Hitler, Mussolini, failure of League of Nations could be mentioned.
In favour of the Treaty: the scale of damage in France and Belgium; Brest-Litvosk; non-Germans created new nations; speed of German recovery, therefore the criticism was not justified. Those who narrate what they consider was wrong with the Treaty will probably score [8 to 10 marks] and [11 to 13 marks] with assessment.
Criticism by Germany and other losers could include the Diktat (Germany not consulted); scale of restorations; territorial losses; disarmament; by the allies (winners), that the Treaty was not sufficiently severe and long term stability was not achieved. For justification of the criticisms Hitler, Mussolini, failure of League of Nations could be mentioned.
In favour of the Treaty: the scale of damage in France and Belgium; Brest-Litvosk; non-Germans created new nations; speed of German recovery, therefore the criticism was not justified. Those who narrate what they consider was wrong with the Treaty will probably score [8 to 10 marks] and [11 to 13 marks] with assessment.
The 1919 Treaty of Versailles was a document that was in essence supposed to bring balance and stability to Europe after a tumultuous war. The treaty that took 6 months to draft however was said to have been flawed, both the losers of war and even the victors had drawn the short end, possibly even worsening situations in Europe and setting the stage for yet another conflict. The criticisms of the Treaty of Versailles will be analyzed in three major clauses, the War Guilt and Reparation Clause, Demilitarization Clause and Territorial Remodeling Clause.
The Treaty of Versailles was supposed to provide closure to the war and draw up penalties for the aggressors. However, many of these penalties have been criticized by the losing side for being too harsh and unrealistic. Such an example is the War Guilt Clause (Article 231) that was proposed by Britain and France. This clause was heavily criticized by Germany, the clause states that Germany was solely responsible for the war and the subsequent damages that succeeded the war and thus had to carry the weight of war reparations. The criticism accompanying this clause were that it was incredibly unfair and biased towards Germany, Germany believed that the war was caused by a number of belligerents. To add insult to injury however the allies also demanded that Germany pay 132 billion gold marks in reparation costs ($33Billion). John Maynard Keynes, a British Economist part of the British Treasury was present at the conference, he stated that the reparation costs “counterproductive and excessive.” Showing that even a British national and committee member found the clauses unfair. This clause however may have been justifiable from the big three perspectives, as they needed the losers to pay for damages, although the demands were a bit unrealistic at the time and most of the costs fell on to Germany. In addition, despite France being one of the spearheads of the Treaty of Versailles they too found something to criticize about the treaty. They found that the Treaty was not necessarily harsh enough on Germany. France was one of the most vigorous supporters of the harsh terms on Germany and was repeatedly denied harsher actions by Britain. They wanted harsher reparation terms. The French wanted to essentially cripple Germany to a point where they were no longer a factor, as Keynes argues that “it was the policy of France to set the clock back and undo what, since 1870, the progress of Germany had accomplished.” Despite Germany’s criticisms on the reparation costs being “beyond their economic capacity” and thusly stated it was a “slave treaty”, the German state had recovered almost fully by 1929. Furthermore, the immediate economic problems they suffered may have been due prominent war debts or inflation, and not due to the reparation cost. Additionally, since the war had been fought outside their soils, most of their infrastructure and industrial capacity had been undamaged, meaning they had an easy time getting back on their feet. The allies also made revisions to the reparation terms and attempted to aid the Germany economy, meaning that the criticisms against the clause may have been largely unjustified.
Germany had also been hit with a massive disarmament and demilitarization clause (Article 180), that severely crippled Germany’s ability to defend itself and even keep order in a country as large as Germany. This clause required Germany to reduce her army to 100,000 thousand active troops and completely demilitarize the Rhineland. Such a severe military penalty was only applied to losing nations and can be seen as incredibly biased and much too severe towards Germany as also argued by John Maynard Keynes. Germany argued that the penalty was too harsh, and severely limited its ability to defend itself. In this case Germany’s critique was partially justified, however, the victor’s reasons were also partially justifiable. Britain and France witnessed the aggressive strategies of the Second Reich during the Great War, such as the August 4, 1914 Schlieffen plan and wanted to reduce the likelihood of that ever happening again, so they put restrictions on Germany’s military potential (Article 159). However, according to French economist Éttiene Mantoux, the criticisms that Maynard put forward when it came to demilitarization where a good thing for Germany. Mantoux argues that due to Germany’s lack of an army they were able to pay off the war reparations, as Germany did not have to pay wages to a large army. This means that both countries are justified in their criticisms of the clause. Nonetheless it is still important to keep in mind that despite all of the clauses put forward Germany would have never been happy with it. Richard J. Evans argues that due to Germany’s alt right wing annexationist program, in which they aimed to annex most of Europe, a treaty that would not leave Germany as a conqueror would be unacceptable to them. They would not accept anything short of what they gained from the treaty of Brest-Litovsk. Consequently, Evans argues that the Germans would not accept the Treaty of Versailles under any of the present circumstances. This means they would have found it unfair regardless.
The Territorial distribution clause (Article 119) demanded that Germany give up their oversea possessions and cede 13% of its lands to Poland, Belgium and France. One of the most criticized points of the Treaty of Versailles was the denial of self-determination and their loss of sovereign lands. Germany argued that the denial of a creation of a union between Austria and Germany was a counterproductive to one of Woodrow Wilsons 14 points, they saw this as a deliberate attempt to cripple the unity of the Germanic peoples in an attempt to leave them divided. This criticism is wholly justified, as the 14 points proposed stated that self-determination was key, however Germany was not allowed to determine their own course due to these limitations imposed by France and Britain. In addition, the territorial losses of sovereign states were criticized by Germany, they argued that the loss of these sovereign lands meant the people living there were cast out from their homelands and thus became the ignored minority in the ceded state. They also criticized the ceding of German national Danzig to Poland, as part of the Allied plan for Poland to have a naval port. This was heavily criticized by Germany, as again German nationals were cast out and Ostprussen was separated from the main German state. This may have also been a contributing factor to the invasion of Poland in 1939, as the German people felt resentment for losing the state. In this case Germany was largely justified, as their European territorial losses were meant to cripple them and split them, however only built up resentment that cumulated in the feverous nationalism and aggressions in 1939. France argues that Germany had been allowed to keep too many key territories however, France demanded the ceding or control of the Rhineland to themselves, in order to establish a defensive barrier. This demand was denied. The demand may have been justified from today’s standpoint, as it may have made it harder for Hitler to invade, however it may have just angered Germany more.
In conclusion, there is no one side whose criticisms were more or less justified. Both the winning side and the losing side had criticisms and both winning and losing sides had legitimate and logical criticisms. A clear winner cannot be obtained from these criticisms, as all the criticisms can be seen as equally justifiable. In addition, the uncertainty of the criticisms and their justifications can adequately have summed up in the words of late Chinese Prime Minister Chou-En Lai “it is still too early to tell”.
Treaty of Versailles Criticism
On his return to Great Britain in June 1919 David Lloyd George was given a hero’s welcome with the king awaiting him at the train station in order to greet him while all the German representatives who signed the Treaty of Versailles were killed in the following years. The nations who had attended the conference all left Paris with mixed feelings, some thinking that the terms imposed on Germany were too harsh while others believed that Germany was not punished hard enough. Every country had their own views on the economic, territorial, and military implications set up by the Treaty of Versailles.
Josef Huggenberger famously wrote in his poem Bettelarm “Wir haben uns gebeugt der Macht, Das hat uns Nöte viel gebracht. Nun sind wir worden bettelarm”. This poem can be seen as a general representation of the German population’s feeling in 1920 towards the Treaty of Versailles as it expresses how Germany was forced to give up their dignity by signing the treaty and was because of that now extremely poor. After the Saar had been ripped from German possession vital parts of her coal industry had been lost and the penalties, which came with the reparations made it seem to the Germans as if they would never be able to recover again and that they would certainly go bankrupt. What made it even more difficult for Germany to accept the reparations was that they felt as if they had never lost WW1. Even though Johan Maynard Keynes represented Great Britain at the Treaty of Versailles his opinion matched that of the German population as he also thought that the economic sanctions posed on Germany were too harsh and that it would lead to an economic crisis all over Europe. On the other hand, however Etienne Mantoux a French economist argues the opposite. He argues that by 1929 Germany’s coal mining industry had increased by 30% compared to the figures of 1913. This makes it seem as if at least this part of the economy had recovered fully by 1929 and had even increased. Mantoux opinion that the economic sanctions set up by the Treaty of Versailles were not to hard is backed by the fact that in 1927 the German state was wealthy enough to introduce income guarantees under welfare legislation. Furthermore, in the years following 1931 German expenditures for the re-armament program significantly exceeded the 2.4% of Germany’s national income, which they spent on the reparations in the years between 1921 and 1932. When considering Mantoux’s argument one has to be aware of the fact that he is French meaning that he could want Germany to look better off than they actually were since one could in that case consider more out reaching demands for reparations, which at that time was one of the main demands, which the French population put forward. German poetry from 1929 also paints a decisively different picture to that of 1920. When looking at the poem Junges Deutschland by Rudolf G. Binding he describes Germany as once again prospering and one can be proud to be German again and if they continue they will once again be rich. This poem portrays an entirely different picture to that of 1920 and it proves that not only on paper the German state was doing well again but that also the average people were once again in good shape. When considering that Germany had at least partially recovered from most parts of the sanctions and reparations they had to pay, by 1929 and that they were once again a stable country after the most devastating war by the standards of the time one can conclude that Germany’s critique of the economic aspects of the Treaty of Versailles was not justified.
Not only did the main loser nation Germany criticize the Treaty of Versailles for the too hard economic sanctions but also the French criticized it for not being harsh enough with the Germans in general however their biggest reason for criticism was that the territorial concessions, which Germany had to make did not go far enough. At the Treaty of Versailles, the French delegation led by Georges Clemenceau would have liked to see the Rhineland taken away from Germany and given to France. In addition, they would have also liked the gain possession of the Saarland especially because of prosperous coalmines located there, which could have greatly boosted France’s economy. This would have also ensured that Germany would not be able to attack France in the foreseeable future as at the time most of German’s wealth depended on the coalfields located in these two areas. The French population would have also approved this sanction as they thought that this was the only way Germany could be punished adequately for the damage they had done to France while fighting over the Western Front, which was mostly located in France. Clemenceau’s opinion was further backed by Ferdinand Foch who was in charge of the allied forces and was of the strong belief that if these areas should not be taken away the Treaty of Versailles would simply be an armistice for twenty years. However, neither Woodrow Wilson nor Lloyd George were of Clemenceau’s opinion and Lloyd George even went as far as calling Clemenceau Napoleon for requesting the possession of the Rhineland and the Saarland. In the end the Treaty of Versailles created a compromise, which stated that the Rhineland would have to be a demilitarized zone and that the Saarland would be occupied by the French for fifteen years. Even with this compromise France was not content and criticized it however this criticism was not justified. If this area should have been completely ripped from German control they would have no industry strong enough to pay for the reparations. Seeing this it could have strengthened France’s economy however it would have made it virtually impossible for Germany to pay their reparations. In addition, it would have probably created a peace, which would have been even shorter than the one between WWI and WWII. This is supported by Margaret MacMillan as she argues that “what may seem like a reasonable way of protecting oneself can look very different from the other side of the border.” This is very applicable to this situation as France would have taken this area to protect itself however from the German side of the border this would have been an extreme provocation and it would have certainly created a huge crisis in the aftermath. When looking at France’s extreme requests for the possession of the Rhineland and the Saarland and the generous compromise found in the Treaty of Versailles the obvious conclusion is that France’s critique of this point is in no way justifiable.
A further point, which was greatly critiqued by the German government and of the population was the army was limited to only 100 000 soldiers. On top of that Germany was not allowed to possess any submarines, no air force, and only six battleships in order to control sea territories. These restrictions were widely criticized as they made Germany extremely vulnerable to any sort of attack. The German army of the time with the number of enlisted soldiers was comparable to some police forces of other nations. These reductions angered the people as they felt as if their interests could no longer be kept safe and secured. What enraged the population further was that all neighboring countries and especially the allies all kept their armies without reducing their old armies in any way making Germany look extremely vulnerable. This criticism by the Germans was in some ways justifiable. When considering that in the years following 1919 Germany was never attacked and never threatened in a manner that could have meant war on a large scale the reduction of the army was meaningless as a larger army would have simply been a threat to other countries but was not necessary to keep national security. On the other hand, however one could argue that this criticism was justified as first of all the peace that followed 1919 was not guaranteed and in the case of a war Germany would have been completely defenceless and secondly the presence of a larger army could have possibly prevented cases of rape, which occurred in the Saarland. In the Saarland women repeatedly reported being raped by French occupants. These cases could have possibly been prevented if Germany’s army would have been more present and could have posed a more serious threat to the French after the cases of the rape. When reviewing the disarmament of Germany now it is obvious that all went well and the absence of a larger army never posed a severe threat to the German population however at the time the criticism was justified as there could have always been an incident, which would have led to Germany feeling the need to defend themselves and the army could have possibly prevented cases of rape in the occupied areas.
After the Treaty of Versailles was signed the criticism for it was immense both on the side of the winners and of the losers. This criticism reached so far that the US Senate did not sign the Treaty and the German population’s anger went so far that all German ambassadors who signed the treaty were killed. Of course some of the criticism was justified and some of the clauses may have been unreasonable however considering the time period and the circumstances in, which it was created it was the best the allies could have done as Margaret MacMillan argues.
Signed in the Hall of Mirrors of the Versailles palace, the Treaty of Versailles did not reflect the pure vision of the expected peace but rather the destructed illustration of a peace that scapegoated one nation upon the demands of personal wishes of the treaties leaders. The painting, “The signing of peace in the Hall of Mirrors”, painted in January 1919 by Sir William Opern, critically mimics the exhaustion and indecision of the leaders of thirty-two countries, representing between them some three-quarters of the world’s population, assembled in Paris. Just two months previously, after four years of unremitting and savage conflict, an armistice had finally brought the Fist World War to an end. The task of creating a treaty was one of formidable complexity and difficulty, in view of the intractable nature of the issues to be resolved as the number of seemingly contradictory viewpoints and aspirations needed to be reconciled. The criticism by both the victors and the defeated, supporters and opposers, foreshadowed the failure of the treaty. This essay will examine different perspectives on why the treaty was more of an unsatisfactory compromise between the “Big Three’ to destroy Germany instead of ensuring an enduring peace as an apology to the exasperated nations and the resulting consequences and how justified criticism was.
The respected historian and the niece of David Lloyd George, Margret McMillan, in her book “Paris 1919” questions whether it is tolerable to criticize a treaty that was more of a compromise between its leaders than a peaceful future solution when it was created in a time when its biggest leaders followed different aims. In her book, she describes President Woodrow Wilson as a brilliant, naïve idealist in his vision for the future of world politics. His fourteen points, first introduced in a speech on January 8, 1918 tried to translate his domestic progressive ideas into foreign policy, accentuating free trade, open agreements, democracy and self-determination. At the opening ceremony of the conference, Wilson clearly expressed these desires to “lift from the shoulders of humanity the frightful weight which is pressing on them, so that humanity, released from this weight, may at last return joyfully to work”. The League of Nations, like McMillan described, should illustrate a world in which there were no secret deals, but rather open diplomacy where different nations could keep peace and protect each other. However, this romanticized idea was strongly criticized by the leaders of The Big Four as their fear of president Wilson denying Germany’s spoils of war, increased. This feeling of panic took the leaders of France and Britain to sign a secret treaty carving German territories, including colonies in Asia and Africa. Herbert Croly, a prized publicist of American war times, illustrated the Allies ingratitude of the “modern St. George” or his attempts to slay the “dragons of reaction” in Europe. Europeans believed that Wilson “had bought his seat at the peace table at discount”. Even in Washington, Wilson did not receive the necessary support as the congress wanted Wilson to be remain home and solve the problems in their country, rather than European problems. In an article named “The League of Nations”, published by the Metropolitan Magazine in January 1919, Theodore Roosevelt openly criticized, “If the League of Nations is built on a document s high-sounding and as meaningless as the speech in which Mr. Wilson laid down his fourteen points, it will simply add more scrap to the diplomatic waste paper basket. Most of these fourteen points mean anything or nothing”. When commenting on the contest between the French and the Americans, Lloyd George metaphorically depicted, "The old tiger [Clemenceau] wants the grizzly bear [Wilson] back in the Rocky Mountains before he starts tearing up the German Hog,". The French, like most nations, had suffered tremendous loses during the war; it had 40 million citizens at the start of the war, but after 1918, six out of ten Frenchmen were dead or permanently maimed. The conflict and deep indignation felt between the French and the German extends itself before the Franco-Prussian war in 1870. Clemenceau wanted to seek revenge and punish the Germans for being a reason of their long suffrage through the treaty. Especially important to the was the continual territorial fight about Alsace-Lorraine as a symbol for their pride and nationality. Clemenceau followed three main aims in the treaty, most of which turned the French aims into making the treaty an armistice, punishing Germany for its powerful existence. His primary aim was to extend the security of France’s borders based on the protection of the Rhine, and a clear boundary to its enemy, Germany. The aim was both political and military as it was based on the creation of one or more autonomous (Foch) or independent (Clemenceau) states. However, the British and the Americans rejected and opposed such proposal, therefore he adopted a more moderate stance which entailed only a temporary occupation of the Rhineland. His plans were to evacuate the land every five years, as well as bridgeheads on the right bank. His second ambition was to conserve an entente between the democracies comprising the winning camp, to enhance the physical border of the Rhine to a political border to Germany. This being the only reason he favored the League of Nations, as McMillan stated in her book. Clemenceau wanted to guarantee full security of France at a European level, by containing German influence and destroying their foreign and domestic authority. However, they did not disclose the idea of a federal Germany in which Prussia would have a reduced role until after the revolution in Bavaria, April 1919. However, the only reasons for France’s support of the state’s creation between Germany and Russia were found in economic and political pragmatism and not the right of people’s self-determination. France supported the creation of Poland, Czechoslovakia and Romania, also not on the bases of Wilson’s naïve ideals, but rather to weaken the relationship between Germany and these countries. McMillan refers to these perceptions as economic aims which were continued in the liquidation of the German steelworks in Lorraine, the Saarland and Luxembourg. With all their aims, their primary perspective was to viciously destroy and make Germany pay, pushing them into a whole of economic destruction, so that the French were safe from invasions and political threats. Clemenceau’s hateful and bitter attitude undermining Germany, is exemplified by the well-known quote, later employed by Hitler expressing Germanys international reputation, “There are 20 million Germans too many in the world”. Unlike Wilson and Clemenceau, Lloyd George stood on the side of generosity and moderation. His aims opposed the utter destruction of the German economy and political system as Clemenceau demanded as this would take away one of Britain’s most valuable trading partner. In The Economic Consequences of the Peace, John Maynard Keynes, Lloyd George was given the title of a “half-human visitor to our age from the hand-ridden magic and enchanted woods of Celtic antiquity”. This name was given to him on behalf of his creation of the Free City of Danzig, which he did not hand over to Poland as was expected, but rather allowed self-determination to create a valuable and economical ally. Lloyd George sought to build a strong France and to ensure German purchases of British exports, slowly trying to rebuild a system of trade in Europe. Although Britain’s aims were primarily based on maintaining their own security, unity and interests, Britain expressed a willingness to follow Wilson’s proposed Fourteen Points, as long as one key reservation was met. The British vetoed the freedom of the seas “in peace and war” because of fear of a German rivalry and the work put in during the war to preserve their command of the sea. However, Lloyd George, after the treaty was signed, himself admitted that “I do not claim that the Treaty is perfect in all respects”. Lloyd George sarcastically answered a question to a journalist about his efforts at the peace conference by stating, “I think I did as well as might be expected, seated as I was between Jesus Christ and Napoleon Bonaparte”, referring to Wilson and Clemenceau. The question must be asked, if a key stakeholder of the Treaty and a world politician was unsure about the future visions of peace, how could this peace be maintained? McMillian argues that exactly this is the reason for why the Treaty cannot be criticized, as this is the best they could achieve in a time of six years. Even Keynes argues that, “The Treaty includes no provisions for the economic rehabilitation of Europe - nothing to make the defeated Central Empires into good neighbors, nothing to stabilize the new States of Europe, nothing to reclaim Russia... The Council of Four paid no attention to these issues, being preoccupied with others - Clemenceau to crush the economic life of his enemy, Lloyd George to bring home something that would pass muster for a week, the President to do nothing that was not just and right”. The Peace of Versailles was an unsatisfactory compromise with little change of ensuring an enduring peace. Each of the Big Three had different aims which had to be modified in order to reach an overall compromise, therefore one can say that the Treaty of Versailles was the best that could be achieved in six months, and it rather only pointed out everything that was malfunctioning in Europe already, hence justifying criticism.
After the Treaty of Versailles, Ferdinand Foch indignantly described the dictatorial terms imposed on Germany as not being peace, but rather “an armistice for Twenty years”, which lead to Keynes allusion to the Third Prunic War and comparison of the Paris Peace treaty to a “Carthaginian peace”, depicting the punitive conditions Germany was forced into. On 7 May, when faced with the conditions dictated by the victors, including Article 231, the “War Guilt Clause”, German politicians wrote to Clemenceau, Wilson and Lloyd George: "We know the full brunt of hate that confronts us here. You demand from us to confess we were the only guilty party of war; such a confession in my mouth would be a lie”. This clause stated that Germany had the full responsibility of having caused the war and that they created all the “loss and damage”. The clause further required the German government to accept all the punishment imposed by the allies, which not only ruined the country politically but also took away German pride found in “Deutschland über alles”. Sax and Kuntz, in their book named “Inside Hitler’s Germany” depicted that “Article 231 identified Germany as the aggressor nation, which was there for liable for reparations payments to the Allied countries for their losses in the war. This demand placed a tremendous burden on a nation that suffered massive devastation in the war”. What Germany took from France 30 years ago, in the Franco Prussian war, Alsace Lorraine, was returned to France as an immediate response from the treaty. Belgium was given Eupen and the Malmaedy, whilst the League of Nations received the right to administrate the industrial Saar region for 15 years. Denmark received Norther Schelswig. The demilitarization of the Rhineland meant that no German military forces or fortifications were allowed to be placed there. Poland received parts of West Prussia and Silesia, whereas Czechoslovakia received the Hutching district from German and the large German city of Danzig became a free city under the protection of the Wilsons League of Nations. Lithuania received the control of Memel, a small strip of territory in East Prussia by the Baltic sea. The German Colonial Empire ended with the peace treaty, and Germany was forced to hand over its colonies, such as Rwanda to Belgium. In total, the treaty resulted in Germany’s loss of 13% of its European territory and one-tenth of its population. The preamble Part V of the treaty states: "In order to render possible the initiation of a general limitation of the armaments of all nations, Germany undertakes strictly to observe the military, naval and air clauses which follow."
German armed forces were to number no more than 100,000 troops, and conscription was to be abolished. Enlisted men were to be retained for at least 12 years; officers to be retained for at least 25 years. German naval forces would be limited to 15,000 men, 6 battleships, 6 cruisers, 6 destroyers and 12 torpedo boats. No submarines were to be included. The manufacture, import, and export of weapons and poison gas was prohibited. Armed aircraft, tanks and armored cars were prohibited. Blockades on ports were prohibited. These decisions would render Germany defenseless against external attack. Its territories were placed at the mercy of a vengeful France in the West and a thrusting newly independent Second Polish Republic in the East. However, in view of the growing threat of Revolution in Germany, the Allies decided to allow the Reichswehr to retain 100,000 machine guns for use against the German working class. These weapons were used by the fascist Freikorps to suppress the revolutionary movement in Germany. The German representatives were systematically humiliated before being brought into the Hall, where they were confronted for the first time with the stony-faced victors. The terms of the Treaty were then read out to them. There was no discussion, they did not even obtain the right to question certain elements. Philipp Scheidemann, Germany’s first democratically elected head of government, resigned rather than sign the treaty. In a passionate speech before the National Assembly on 21 March 1919, he called the treaty a "murderous plan" and exclaimed, “Which hand, trying to put us in chains like these, would not wither? The treaty is unacceptable”. Many historians refer to the treaty as “the Diktat” as Germany was forced to sign the treaty without any opportunity of negotiations. One small nation suddenly became the scapegoat of a war caused by a series of international misinterpretations and failure of politicians. Harold Nicolson's account describes the motion of the forced signing of the treaty, “And then, isolated and pitiable, come the two German delegates. Dr. Muller, Dr. Bell. The silence is terrifying. Their feet upon a strip of parquet between the savonnerie carpets echo hollow and duplicate. They keep their eyes fixed away from those two thousand staring eyes, fixed upon the ceiling. They are deathly pale”. The treaty was an unjust and dictatorial simplification of what peace should reflect, therefore criticism is justified.
The economic devastation of Germany, resulting from the treaty as an official document for Allies punishment, provided the opportunities for Adolf Hitler to come to power, which can be exemplified through McMillan’s famous quote, “Blame everything on the Treaty of Versailles of what happened in 1930 and 1940”. Germany was economically devastated after the draining defeat in World War 1. Germany was forced to pay incredibly sizeable reparations to France and Great Britain, 132 billion Reichsmark and thirteen percent of its land was given to the Allies. Although Germany began transportation projects, modernization of power plants and gas works, unemployment was still at an extensively high rate, resulting in the increase of social spending. In 1913, one year before the war, the German government spent approximately 20.5 marks per resident, this increased to 65 marks by 1925, and reached its peak in 1929 with over 100 marks per resident. Keynes argues that this elevating amount of money and the decrease in revenue continued deficits and lead to final financial municipal collapse in 1930. Keynes further implies that the collapse was not caused by the debts, but actually the failure of the municipal officials and politicians to restore budgets. Additionally, the revenue tax began to fall from 50% of the government income to 28%. This resulted in the dependence of the government on state trade and property tax, and profits made from municipal utilities. Although these economic difficulties acted as an additional burden to Germany, this alone would not have resulted to their initial failure to pay the war reparations set upon the treaty. The Allies places protective tariffs on Germany’s goods, taking away their income Germany could have only gained by selling goods in foreign countries. The devastating economical state forced the German banks to print exaggerated amounts of money, throwing Germany in a state of super inflation. Millions of marks became worthless to a point of where having a box full of money would mean that the box had greater value than the actual money. Cartoons often depicted Germany’s citizens with wheelbarrows full of money who could not afford a loaf of bread. As the United States reached the great depression, they forced Germany to pay back the loans it had before given to them, which pulled Germany further in the dark hole of economic misery. Without the income from American loans, Germany was unable to pay its war reparations to England and France. Germany was at its weakest and most vulnerable point as in 1923 Adolf Hitler attempted to overthrow the German government. The German people longed for an opportunity to blame their difficulties on. The treaty and the allies were not sufficient enough to build this blame. Hitler, whilst being imprisoned for nine months for his failed attempt to take over the German government, suggested, in his autobiographical book, “Mein Kampf” that there were easy solutions to the complex problems that German people faced in the 1920s. Hitler not only blamed German’s problems on its weak government by the “stab in the back” but also on the Jewish people that were scapegoated because of their financial prosperity. The simple two reasons of why German people accepted Hitler were that he provided someone to blame for the economy and he had a simplified plan to economic recovery. Keynes illustrated Hitler’s plan to “outline his four-year vision that would completely eliminate unemployment throughout Germany” to be highly effective, even though this plan did not permit the increase of income and enrichment of its economy. However, the plan provided change, which the German people gleefully accepted to increase their military strength (actually forbidden by the peace treaty) and to regain Germany’s victory. In a speech held in 1926, Hitler said, “Anyone can deal with victory. Only the mighty can bear defeat”, which depicts the hope he set upon the German citizens to detest the terms of the treaty and regain strength and build a stronger Third Reich. The historian Robert Gerwarth, in his book “The Vanquish”, similarly to many other historians, strongly advocates that the diktat set upon Germany and their resulting economic collapse resulted in the rise of Hitler, therefore criticism is justified.
The Treaty of Versailles can be criticized for its prejudice, discrimination and cruelty towards Germany, however one cannot forget that the Treaty was primarily created by three leaders in a minimal period of time, and that it therefore represented a compromise of its leaders rather than the expected solutions and miracles for peace. Lloyd George foreshadowed Europe’s brutal future when he said, “We shall fight another war in 25 years” on behalf of the treaty. Although the treaty is criticized by both its winners and its losers, McMillan, towards the end of her book Paris 1919 illustrates that the nations that exist today, for the good and the bad, only began to grow because of the treaty. Germany, although it was weakened, destroyed and humiliated, said, “We will never stop unit we win back what we deserve”. One can argue that the treaty tried to create what could only be created 37 years later: The European Union and hence provided the initiation points of such great creation. To label the criticism by both the victors and the defeated, supporters and opposers, right or wrong straight away would result in the same drastic simplification that leads to miscreation’s as in the treaty itself.