The Paris Peace Conference
- On 18 January 1919, delegates from 32 countries came to Paris to make the treaties which would end the war.
- The conference was not initially intended to a peace conference
- It was originally conceived as a pre-meeting at which the victors could meet to agree what they would collectively demand of Germany at a peace conference which was meant to follow.
- However, as time went on, and more and more people converged on Paris to try to have their say in the proceedings, the pre-Conference turned into the actual Peace Conference, and its decisions became binding.
- Unlike other treaties in history, the Treaty of Versailles was not negotiated between Germany and the Allies. Germany was not allowed to send any delegates.
The Big Three Aims & The 14 Points
1. Georges Clemenceau, President of France – blamed Germany = punishment/ ‘hard justice’/ angry = revenge/ wanted to ’make Germany pay’ for the Damage/ felt threatened = wanted independent Rhineland/ get Alsace-Lorraine/ peace = wanted Germany weak and crippled.
2. Woodrow Wilson, President of America – 14 Points/ a better world ‘safe for democracy’/ fair peace/ self-determination/ International Co-operation (League of Nations)
3. David Lloyd George, Prime Minister of Britain – compromise/ punish & make Germany pay, but not revenge like France/ protect British Empire/ trade/ peace: did not want to create anger in Germany which would lead to war in the future.
The 14 Points - When the Germans signed the armistice, they believed that the peace treaty which would follow would be based on Woodrow Wilson’s 14 Points. Wilson was the President of the USA, and his 14 Points were designed to treat Germany in a fair and democratic way.
Main terms of Treaty of Versailles [GARGLE]
1. Guilt – clause 231: Germany accepted blame ‘for causing all the loss and damage’ of the war.
2. Army – army: 100,000/ no submarines/ no aeroplanes/ 6 battleships/ Rhineland de-militarised
3. Reparations – (£6,600 million – in instalments, until 1984).
4. Germany lost land – Alsace-Lorraine to France/ Saar to France (15 years)/ Malmedy to Belgium/ North Schleswig to Denmark/ West Prussia and Upper Silesia to Poland/ Danzig a ‘free city’/ Memel to Lithuania/ German colonies became ‘mandates’ of the League of Nations.
5. League of Nations - set up.
6. Extra points – forbade Anschluss/ Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania independent states.
- Germany had to hand over 70,000 square kilometres of land to the Allies.
- The allies shared this land out amongst countries within Europe. For example,
- Alsace-Lorraine was returned to France (the Germans had taken it off France in 1871)
- West Prussiaand Posen were given to Poland, and Eupen and Malmedy were given to Belgium.
- This was supposed to make Germany weaker, and make other European countries stronger.This would help to prevent Germany invading its neighbours within Europe in future years.
- Germany had to hand over all its colonies to the Allies
- Colonies are areas of land that are governed by a Parent State although they are outside of that state – they are abroad.
- Germany’s colonial Empire amounted to about one million square miles.
- One of the largest areas to be taken from Germany was in Africa.
Military Restrictions & Diktat
- Meant Germany could not defend itself against even small countries (the Dungervolker - Dung people).
- The German armed forces were to be reduced greatly.
- The Reichwehr (Army) were only allowed 100,000 men, and were not allowed to use conscription (forcing ordinary men to join the army for a period of time).
- The Navy was limited to 15,000 sailors.
- The use and production of weaponry was limited.
- The Germans were not allowed an airforce or any submarines.
- The Navy was only allowed six battleships and the buying of any further war materials was banned.
Diktat - When the Germans heard about the Treaty of Versailles, they felt ‘pain and anger’. They felt it was unfair. It was a 'Diktat' – an IMPOSED settlement. They had not been allowed to take part in the talks – they had just been told to sign.
Why Germans objected to it [BRAT]
- Said they were not to blame for the war.
- Did not physically harm Germany, but hurt Germany's pride and was this that made them want to overturn the treaty.
- Said France and Britain were trying to starve their children to death.
- At first they refused to pay, and only started paying after France and Britain invaded Germany (January 1921).
- Hated their tiny army. Said they were helpless against other countries.
- At first they refused to reduce the army, and the sailors sank the fleet, rather than hand it over.
- Claimed that the treaty was simply an attempt to destroy their economy.
- Other nations were given self-determination – but Treaty forced Germans to live in other countries.
- Germans were angry that they could not unite with the Austrian Germans.
Successes & Failures of Treaty of Versailles
- Nine nations set up – Poland, Finland, Austria, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania
- Alsace-Lorraine given to France
- Minorities: countries had treat minorities fairly
- Elections (plebiscites) in 3 places – Schleswig, Upper Silesia and the Saar.
- Germans in Sudetenland to Czechoslovakia
- Anschluss forbidden
- Minorities existed
- Empires stayed
- Specific violations – 1919 d’Annunzio captured Fiume/ 1920: Poland conquered land from Russia and Lithuania