The Impact of the Versailles Settlement on Germany

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  • The Impact of the Versailles Settlement on Germany
    • The Treaty
      • The Treaty was agreed upon at the Palace of Versailles - the Germans could not see the Treaty until 7th May
        • On 28th June it was signed by all powers
      • It imposed much harsher terms on Germany than they had expected
        • It was regarded as dictated peace (diktat)
        • The Armistice was an agreement to stop fighting and withdraw troops
    • Terms of the Treaty
      • Territorial Losses
        • Alsace-Lorraine was returned to France
          • Lost of 70,000km of territory
      • Disarmament
        • Had to surrender all heavy weapons + dismantle fortifications
          • Army of max 100,000 men + navy of 15,000 men
            • Navy was allowed a max of 6 battleships, no submarines
              • No airforce
      • The Rhineland
        • An Allied occupation of it to ensure Germany followed the terms of the treaty
      • War Guilt
        • Germany had accept responsibility for the war
          • Had to cover costs of damage suffered in the war (reparations)
            • Fixed at £6.6 billion in 1921
      • The Saarland
        • Contained rich reserves of coal and was removed from Germany
          • Germany was suppplying France, Belgium and Italy with free coal
            • France could exploit coal mines in this area
      • Other terms of the treaty
        • Austria was forbidden from uniting with Germany
          • Germany could not join the New League of Nations
            • The Kaiser + other Germans were to be put on trial for war crimes
    • German reactions to the Treaty
      • The abdication of the Kaiser + the government signing the agreement was greeted with horror
        • Neither ordinary soldiers nor the people were told how dire the situation on the Western front was
      • Millions of Germans were now living in non-German states such as Poland + Czechoslovakia
      • The War Guilt clause was humiliating
        • Reparations were considered to be too high + would cripple the economy
      • Disarmament was considered unjust
      • Were the complaints justified?
        • Wilson's 14 points made some of these clauses clear - they should have been expected
        • French could have made the Rhineland independent
        • If Germany had won the war the consequences for the Allies might have been harsher
        • The Reparations bill was lower than the French demanded
    • Political Impact of the Treaty
      • Political Crisis of June 1919
        • No one wanted to accept the treaty, however it was impossible to negotiate amendments to it
        • Field Marshall John Hindenburg discussed resisting the treaty through military action
          • General groener told President Ebert that military resistance would be futile, and Germany had no choice but to accept the treaty
      • The reaction of Pro-Republican Parties
        • The SPD took the view that signing the treaty was not unpatriotic - and that complying with the treaty would be sensible
        • The Treaty alienated those who were promised a 'better' germany in the constitution
          • It caused demoralisation at the centre of the government
      • Reaction on the Right
        • Nationalists committed to overthrowing the government - couldn't accept a defeated Germany
          • The politicians who had signed the treaty became known as the November Criminals - and they stabbed germany in the back
            • This myth justified the nationalists attacks on the Republic - appealled to ex-soldiers who wanted to keep fighting
          • Many SPD members and working-class soldiers supported the new regime
            • Some moved towards Communism and joined Freikorps
      • Reactions from abroad
        • Britain - the people were satisfied with the punishment of germany. Privately Lloyd George believed that Germany shouldn't have been made so weak
          • Some believed the Germans had been treated too harshly - and this would have bad consequences
        • France - they gained a lot out of it, however some still felt the treaty was too lenient on Germany. President Clemenceau was blamed for this and lost at the next election
        • United States - Widespread opinion that Germany had been treated too harshly + that Britain and France had used it to gain for themselves
          • They refused to join the League of nations and retreated from European affairs

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