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Was any country entirely happy with the Treaty of Versailles?
In June of 1919, politicians from the Big Three, USA, France and Britain, gathered in
the famous palace of Versailles to sign the first of the treaties they had spent so long discussing.
When a decision had finally been made on the exact aims of the treaty, it was clear that none of
the Big Three were entirely happy as they had been made to make a compromise on many of
the key issues.
In my opinion, I believe that France came out happiest with the declaration of the treaty.
Firstly, France took back the provinces of Alsace and Lorraine after nearly fifty years of
occupation by Germany. This was one of the main political victories gained by France over
Germany because of Clemenceau's desire to cripple them both economically as well as
territorially through the loss of land. Much of the fighting for the western front in World War I
was done on French soil, so because of the state that France was in, Clemenceau wanted
compensation for the damage done to the land and property. Clemenceau fought hard for this as
he was representing the people of France and for this reason he got what he wanted a payment
of £6,600,000,000 was decided upon for the whole expense of the war. Clemenceau also
wanted to guard against the possibility of an attack ever coming from Germany again. Thus he
demanded a demilitarisation of the Rhineland in Germany i.e. no soldiers were to be posted
there and it was to be a buffer state, which he got. To add to that, Germany's armed forces
were severely reduced. They were to only have one hundred thousand men in the army the
navy could only have six battleships, six light cruisers, twelve destroyers, twelve torpedo boats,
only fifteen thousand sailors and the air force was to be abolished. To further humiliate the
Germans, the treaty stated that they should give their colonies to the allies and that Estonia,
Latvia and Lithuania were to become independent states.
There is a feeling that France, although having gained territory and a huge amount of
compensation, wanted to `squeeze' Germany further into defeat by whatever means possible.
They wanted to make sure that by no means at all could Germany launch an attack to start
another war. The treaty, partly, did this by forbidding an Anschluss between Austria and
Germany. The reason I say `partly' is because this stated that an Anschluss between Austria
and Germany was forbidden, but no other countries come into the equation. Germany may be
able to form an alliance with another powerful country in the world.
Britain would have been happy with the terms of the treaty, but not to the same extent
as the French, mainly because their demands were fewer. Britain particularly agreed with the
clause that stated that the German armed forces were to be reduced. This clause was beneficial
to Britain, especially because the naval supremacy had been protected and restored by the
agreement as the navy had been reduced drastically, meaning that there would be a very minimal
threat of war by sea.
However, Britain had a few problems as their kind nature showed through. They
wanted to avoid an embittered Germany who would seek revenge and threaten the peace in the
long term. This was not to be the case because of the harshness shown towards Germany in the
treaty. Obviously being treated so unsympathetically would leave Germany rather annoyed at
the main contributors to the plan and would give them reason to attack. In addition Britain
wanted to help Germany economically to become a strong trading partner again this severe
settlement would not help in any way in forging these crucial international relations.
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The USA had to be one of the most content of the Big Three. This was the situation
because of the use of the fourteen points in the drawing up of the final treaty. Not all of the
points were taken into consideration, but there are some key arguments that have been adopted
by the treaty, namely: `all countries to work towards disarmament', `colonies to have a say in
their own future' and `League of Nations to be set up'.…read more