History - The Treaty of Versailles

This set of revision notes is for OCR paper and dealswith the Treaty of Versailles (The Big Three, Effects on Germany e.t.c.). As reference, I have mainly been using the Ben Walsh text book, hope this helps!

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The Mood in 1919

All countries thought that Germany should pay, except for the USA, because all these countries were exhausted from the war. 

This was because millions of young men had died or been injured. The total amount of casualties of Britain and France was around 9 million.Many people had rationed food and medicine.

Almost every family in Britain had lost a member in the fighting.

Many politicians knew they could get support in the 1918 elections by emphasising how harshly they would make Germany pay.

This tactic was then strengthened when people saw how harshly Germany made Russia pay in 1918 in the Brest-Litovsk where Russia lost huge amounts of land and 25% of its population.

So if Germany had won, people thought that would be the same demand from Germany to them.

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The Aims of the Big Three

The Big Three were three members from Britain, France and the USA coming to the Paris Peace Conference as representatives of their country but each had different aims.

Clemenceua (France): Germany still seemed to be a threat to France becausem Over two thirds of French soldiers were killed or injured, damage had been done to the land and industry. Clemenceau saw the treaty as a chance to cripple Germany, the French President wanted Germany to be broken up into smaller states. Clemanceau was a realist and knew this wouldn't happen but still demanded Germany to be weakened as much as possible.

Woodrow Wilson (USA): Wilson did not want Germany to be punished to harshly because he knew that some day it would recover and want revenge. His main aim was to strengthen democracy. He set up his fourteen points and his most important was the last which was to set up an international body called the League of Nations. He also believed in self determination, for Eastern Europe countries to not be ruled by Austria- Hungary empire.

David Lloyd George (Britain): David Lloy George was the middle ground. He wanted Germany to lose it's navy and colonis as they were a threat to the British empire, however, he did not want Germany to seek revenge and wanted to begin trading again as it meant more jobs. But he had promised Britain he would treat them harshly even though he knew the dangers.

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The End Terms of the Treaty

1. WAR GUILT: Germany had to accept full responsibility of the war.

2. REPARATIONS: The Allies said Germany would pay reparations without consulting Germany, the exact figure was decided in 1921, £6.6 billion, luckily, in 1929, this was then decreased by the Young Plan.

3. TERRITORIES AND COLONIES: Germany's overseas empire was taken away because it was one of the causes for the bad relations between Britain and Germany before the war. The land was taken over by the League which meant Britain and France. Germany's borders were shortened and Germany could not become allies with Austria.

4. GERMANY'S ARMED FORCES: German army was limited to 100,000 men, conscription was banned, armoured vehicles, submarines and aircrafts were not allowed, the navy could only build 6 battle ships and the Rhineland (the zone connecting Germany and France) was demiliterised. 

5. LEAGUE OF NATIONS: Germany could not join the League of Nations until it had shown itself to be a peace loving country.

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German Reactions to the Treaty

Germany was shocked, this was mostly because they didn't feel they had lost the war as they didn't know how bad the military situation was. They thought they had agreed a ceasefire and had gone to Paris to negociate peace. 

Ebert didn't agree to the Treaty but found he couldn't do anything else. Hindenburg,army leader, said they could not possibly win if they went to war again in disagreement, so, he accepted the terms in 28th of June, 1919.

Many Germans hated the war guilt clause as they thought the guilt should be shared, and definitley did not think it should pay for all the damage caused by it. Also, these reparations made a bad situation worse as they were already without much food.

Germany was the only country forced to disarm to Germany's extent which was obviously found to be extremely unfair.

The loss of territory was a blow to the economy and was mainly given to Britain and France.

Germany also felt very insulted as they had not been invited to the League of Nations.

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Big Three Reactions with the Treaty and Overall Ju

Clemenceau: He thought it wasn't harsh enough and the French people agreed but blamed it on him so in the 1920 elections, he was voted out.

Lloyd George: He and Britain were very happy with the outcome at first. However, later on he thought the Treaty was 'a great pity' as he knew war would be caused because of it.

Wilson: he was very disappointed and said he would not have signed it if he was a German, all he hoped for was that it would still bring peace.

Overall, we can see that the Treaty was extremely harsh and not entirely fair and many thoughts of the Germans were justified.

However, one of the main reasons why people thought that it was is because of the Brest Litovsk which, as seen, was a lot harsher than the Treaty of Versailles and if Germany had won, Britain, France and the USA would have most likely been made to pay more than Germany did.

Also, Germany did not help itself because, instead of increasing the tax like many other countries, they planned to get the money from the defeated states. 

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