The Paris peace conference 1919 and the big three
Delegates from 32 countries came to Paris in January 1919 to negotiate the terms of the what was going to be known as the Treaty of Versailles. it was however dominated by what were known as the 'big three' - USA(Woodrow Wilson), Britain(David Lloyd George) and France(Georges Clemenceau). Presentations were made by the other countries to them and afterward the 'big three' would decide on the terms.
Negotiations were difficult as all three had different ideas on what wanted to happen within the treaty. Wilson based his ideas on his 14 points for example, to create the League of Nations but also wanted to let Germany off lightly. Clemenceau however wanted the opposite, he wanted to completely destroy Germany and make sure Germany could not rebuild itself again. Lloyd George on the other hand wanted what was known compared to Wilson and Clemenceau as moderate, he wanted to punish Germany however wanted them to rebuild so Britain can later trade again with them. the peace conference looked as if it was going to break up and not happen in March 1919.
David Lloyd George saved it in the end by creating the Fountainbleau Memorandum document which would mean the Clemenceau would agree to the creation of the League of Nations and be more lenient on a peace treaty that did not destroy Germany, but also Wilson would agree to the War Guilt Clause.
Germany were then made to sign the treaty in the hall of mirrors on the 28th June 1919 with no negotiation.
Terms of the Treaty of Versailles
The Treaty of Versailles set out 440 Articles detailing Germany's punishment. The terms of the treaty can be classied into 3 groups: territorial, military and financial, but also they created the group known as the League of Nations which would keep control of all these rules created by the treaty as well as keep peace and help the world in other factors such as medicine and disease. However Germany was not allowed to join the League of Nations.
The main territorial terms within the treaty were that Germany lost all its Colonies to the victors of the war as 'mandates' or set free under control by the League of Nations, but also Germany had been forbidden to unite with Austria which was known as 'Anschluss'. The province of Alsace and Lorraine were returned to France as well as being given the Saar, a rich coalfield, as safe keeping for 15 years. Another territorial term was that Germany would also loose land to create new countries such as Poland.
There were only two main terms to do with the military in the treaty. One was that Germany's army and navy were limited and that they were not allowed an air force. The limitations of the army were that they were allowed only 100,000 men with no tanks, and the limitations of the navy were that the were only allowed 6 battleships with no submarines. Another term was that the Rhineland which boardered France would be demilitarised for France's protection of not being invaded.
The only financial term was that Germany would pay £6.6 billion as reparation to the victors.
The League of Nations
the League of Nations was set up by the Treaty of Versailles. The League of Nations had 3 aims. One was that they would stop wars altogether. Another was to encourage disarmament Finally their 3rd aim was that they would make the world a better place by improving working conditions and tackling diseases.
However they had an odd organisation. It started with having an assembly, which would meet once a year. They also had a council which met more often to consider crises. They had a secretariat to handle the paper work. Also they had a Court of International Justice. Finally they had many committees such as the International Labour organisation as well as the Health Committee to carry out humanitarian work.
It had some strengths. One was that it was set up by the Treaty of Versailles, which every one signed. It had 58 nations as members by the 1930's. Finally it also could enforce its will, which meant it could offer arbitrations through the Court of Injustice or apply trade sanctions against countries that went to war.
However it had more weaknesses. One was that it was set up by the Treaty of Versailles which everyone hated. Another reasons was that it's aims were too ambitious for all the members to handle. Another weakness was that USSR, USA and Germany were not a member which made trade sanctions alsmost useless way of opposing sanctions. However Germany and USSR did eventually join but Germany left . another problem was that it's organisation was too much to handle. Finally it has unanimous vote which made decisions hard to handle.
The League's successes and failures
The League had many small successses which had made them look like a good organisation that would succeed, many of these successes were at the beginning of of when it started. Also many of the successes were with small disputes between weak countries. Many examples of it's successes were that it took half a million prisoners of war home from World War One, another example would be the dispute over the Aaland island between Finland and Sweden.
However when it came to real big problems with bigger and stronger countries the League of Nations had not done too well. It was scared and had not much more power over these countries such as Italy at Corfu or Abyssinia. Another example would be the Manchurian crisis where Britain and France were too lazy and did not feel a crisis on the other side of the world really affected them so they did not do much about this crisis. Finally also there were also failure within talks about disarmament as Germany were the only countries that had disarmament sanctions and they demanded to have much more weapons much like the rest of Europe.
Manchuria and Abyssinia crises (more detail)
In the Early 1930's two major events had caused the disbelief in the league and its inevitably led to its own end.
The Manchurian Crisis happened in Feburary of 1932 where Japan had accused China of an explosion on a railway controlled by Japan and this led to the Japanese army invading Manchuria and then invading Shanghai and controlling the rest of China. It was a failure for the Laegue of Nations because the had not done anything major to stop this. it took a year for them to send a commisioner and file a report of which alll theey did was ask Japan to leave China, but instead Japan left the League of Nations. The league also had no army to send as well as not having the USA in the League which made it harder for economical sanctions to tke part as Japan could still trade with the USA.
The Abyssinian Crisis happen in 1935 where upon Italy invaded Abyssinia which was an independant African country which was not ruled by Europe. When Italy invaded, the Abyssinian emperor Haile Selassie went to the League himself to ask for help. However all the League did was stop arms sales to both sides which did more harm to Abyssinia than it did to Italy. Afterwards the league agreed to give some of Abyssinia to Italy but Italy ignored and invaded Abyssinia, afterward Britain and France refused to intervene however in December 1935 news broke out about the Hoare-Laval pact where they agreed to give away Abyssinia. In the end the league did nothing and Italy took over Abyssinia by May 1936.
Chamberlain and appeasement
Appeasement was a policy many politician, especially Britain and France, much liked after the crumble of the League of Nations and this is a policy to give Hitler what he wanted to stop going to war. It was based on the fact that what Hitler wanted was reasonable and that when his reasonable demands had been satisfied he would stop.
An example of this apppeasement is the Sudetenland Crisis of 1938. The appeasement started when Hitler threatens to go to war with Czechoslovakia about not handing over the Sudetenland and Chamberlain steps in to stop war from happening. He then starts his appeasement by promising all areas that are more than 50% German to Hitler and gets France to agree as well. Chamberlain goes back to Bad Godesberg but now Hitler demands all of the Sudentenland and sadly Chanberlain refuses and see this as war is inevitable. However Hitler invites back Britain and France to Munich to discuss this quarrel and Britain and France now agree to give the Sudetenland to Hitler. Later Chamberlain and Hitler have a talk where Hitler signs a paper agreeing he does not want to go to war. This all turns out to be a lie and later Hitler goes on to take the rest of Czechoslovakia, this marks the end of appeasement and the inevitability of war.
However appeasement at the time did look good because Britain wanted peace and were still traumatised by the effects of WW2. Another reason for appeasement was that Hitlers demands seemed reasonable. One other reason for appeasement was that Chamberlain wanted a strong Germany to stop Communist USSR. Finally another reason for appeasement was that many people admired Hitler and even American magazine called 'Time' declared him 'Man of the Year'.
After the takeover of Czechoslovakia, Poland looked the inevitable next target. Britain and France had enough of Hitler and had sworn to protect Poland, however it was too far away so they started having talks with USSR.
However the talk were dragging on for too long because no one like communism nor did they trust Stalin but Stalin didn't trust Britain and France either. As well as that Poland refused to have Russian troops in Poland as they also feared that Russia would take over Poland instead which was seen as a worse than being taken over by Nazi's.
As the talks were taking too long USSR on 23rd August made the Nazi-Soviet Pact with Hilter. They had agreed not to go to war with each and as well secretly to take over Poland and split it. The whole world was shocked to see 2 sworn enemies, Fascism and Communism, cooperate with each other. However Stalin had gained time to re-arm for when Hitler did choose to eventually invade USSR, but also if Stalin had allied with Britain and France Stalin would have to go to war against Germany, however being an ally to germany meant that Stalin could half of Poland without a war, this was an easy choice. It was seen as a marriage of convenience until Hitler had indeed invade USSR in 1940.
This was the final act that made war inevitable as it was inevitable that Poland was now going to be invaded and Britain and France would have to try and protect it to forfil their promise to Poland.