Overall the reaction was one of horror and outrage. Germans were so shocked by the terms as they didnt believe they had lost the war and were being treated as a defeated state. They believed the treaty was too punitive.
They felt that the blame should, at the very least be shared. The German economy was already in tatters. With the addition of reparations payments Germany would be crippled. Many couldn't feed their own children or find a job.
The pride of Germany was the Army. When this was stripped to 100,000 men it was a blow to German pride. Another blow to german pride was the lose of Land particuarly the Saar as this was an industrial area.
Most Germans thought that the treaty was nothing like Wilson's fourteen points and that self-determination was not a welcomed choice for Germany.
Some thought the Germans deserved this harsh treatment as in the Brest-Litovsk treaty with the Russians. The bad economy was also partially self inflicted as Germany did not raise taxes.
Strengths and weaknesses of the Treaty
At the time most people agreed that the treaty was fair. If it was any kinder to the Germans Britain and france would not have supported it.
Lloyd George recieved a hero's welcome.
It was not harsh enough to satisfy the french.
Wilson was very dissappointed with the treaty. He also put too much faith in the power the League of Nations would have.
With hindsight it can be seen as very punitive towards germany and is now seen as a Diktat.
It was harsh enough for Germans to want revenge but not harsh enough to crippple Germany so they could not seek it.
The reparations payment was one that Germany couldn't afford.
Terms of the Treaty
T- Territory- Germany's overseas empire is taken away. Former German colonies become controlled by the league. Germany is forbidden from uniting with Austria (Anschluss). Rhineland is demilitarised. Alsace-Lorraine is returned to the French.
R- Reparations- £6,600 million (decided in 1921)
A- Armed forces- Army limited to 100,000 men. Conscription is banned. Germany is not allowed armoured vehicles, submarines or aircraft. A Navy consisting of 6 battleships. No troops are allowed into the Rhineland.
W- War Guilt- Germany had to accept blame for starting the war (Clause 231)
L- League of nations to be set up. Only peace loving countries could join.
The Fourteen points
- No secret treaties
- Free access to the seas in peacetime and wartime
- Free trade between countries
- All countries to work to disarmament
- Colonies to have a say in their own future
- German troops to leave Russia
- Independence for Belgium
- France to regain Alsace-Lorraine
- Fronteir between Austria and Italy to be adjusted
- Self-determination for the peoples of Eastern Europe
- Serbia to have access to the sea
- Self-determination for the people in the Turkish empire
- Poland to become an independent state with access to the sea
- League of Nations to be set up.
Wilson was the President of the USA who wanted a fair peace.
Wilson refused to cancel the British and French debts to America in order to put pressure on them to comply to his ideas.
Thought that if Germany was treated too harshly that when it rebuilt it would seek revenge.
Ultimatley wanted world peace. Gave the 'fourteen points' speech which outline his aims for the Treaty of Versailles.
Wilson did belive that the German's should be punished he just didn't believe they should accept all the blame and punishment for the war.
The most important things to Wilson were the establishment of the League of Nations, self-determination and working towards disarmament.
David Lloyd George
Prime minister of Britain and seen as the middle ground betwwen Clemenceau and Wilson.
George wanted Germany to be punished but not too harshly as they could seek revenge and eventually George planned to trade with Germany again.
George suggested to the public in Britain he would make the Germans pay "We shall squeeze the German lemon until the pips squeak" however, this was only to guarentee more votes at the next election.
Wanted Germany to lose both its colonies and its navy as these posed a potential threat to the British empire.
Clemenceau was the Prime Minister of France. He was seen as tough and often refused to compromise on many issues.
Wanted to cripple Germany and get revenge.
Wanted the treaty to be so harsh as France suffered enormous damage to its land and industry. Over two thirds of the french men who served in the army were killed or injured.
Clemenceau saw the treaty as an opportunity to weaken Germany so badly that it could never recover and could never attack france again.
He demanded such a harsh treaty to sway public opinion of him.
Paris Peace Conference
In 1919 victorious leaders met in Paris to decide how to deal with Germany and its allies.
Delegates from 32 countries met at the Palace of Versailles.
No defeated countries were invited.
All countries (apart from America) were exhausted from the war. Nearly all countries were severley weakened and the public looked to the leaders to seek revenge on Germany.
The allies spent five and a half months deciding on the terms of the treaty.
The Big three had very different ideas about what should happen to Germany and frequently argued about the terms. As the conference went on these arguments became worse.