Summary of the end of The Great War
- The armistice was signed on November 11th 1918 at 11a.m. This ended the fighting in the Great War.
- In January 1919 peace talks began in Paris
The Paris Peace Conference
- The Conference took place in the Palace of Versailles
- It lasted for 12 months (The Big Three left after the Treaty of Versailles was signed)
- 32 nations were supposed to be represented, but no one from the defeated countries and Russia who surrendered were invited. (Russia was also in a civil war)
- Russia surrendered in March 1918
- 5 treaties were drawn up at the conference. The main one was the Treaty of Versailles which dealt with Germany's allies
- All of the important decisions on the fate of Germany were taken by "The Big Three": Clemenceau, Lloyd George and Wilson
- Germany's allies were Turkey, Austria-Hungary, Bulgaria
- Orlando, Prime Minister of Italy was also important, "The Big Three" are also known as "The Big Four".
- Italy joined the war in 1915
Woodrow Wilson's 14 Points (part 1)
Wilson wrote these points in January 1918 before the war had ended. He saw these as the basis for peace in Europe.
1. No Secret Treaties
He was thinking in particular of the Treaty of London in 1915 when Italy changed sides.
2. Free access to the seas in peacetime or wartime
He was thinking of Germany bombing American ships, when crossing the Atlantic. Against the law to bomb/attack neutral countries.
3. Free trade between countries
4. All countries to work towards disarmament
Woodrow Wilson's 14 Points (part 2)
5. Colonies to have a say in their own future
A threat to Britain's Empire, also to France
6. German troops to leave Russia
German's still want Russia to pay for loosing/surrendering to Germany
7. Independance for Belgium
8. France to regain Alsace-Lorraine
Germany seized land off France. Now given back to France
9. Frontier between Austria and Italy to be adjusted
Woodrow Wilson's 14 Points (part 3)
10. Self-determination for the peoples of eastern Europe (they should rule themselves)
This applies in particular to the people who had been part of the Austrian - Hungarian Empire.
11. Serbia to have access to the sea
12. Self-determination for the people in the Turkish Empire.
13. Poland to become an independent state with access to the sea
Russia had controlled most of Poland as the Russian empire expanded
14. League of Nations to be set up (Wilson felt strongly about this)
The Big Three: Georges Clemenceau (France)
- Nickname was "The Tiger" as he was quite vicious
- He had seen Germany invade France twice in his lifetime, in 1870 and 1914, and was under great pressure from the French public who wanted revenge on Germany
- Most of the war had been fought on French soil and the industry, agriculture of north-west France and the self-confidence of the people had been virtually ruined
- The war increased this feeling that Germany's land and industry had not been as badly damaged as France's
- Germany seemed to many French people as powerful and threatening as ever
- The desire of the French people for revenge and compensation was understandable but unlikely to lead to a fair peace agreement
- Clemenceau's main aim at the conference was to gain security for France by preventing another attack on its frontiers
- This involved keeping Germany weak and making it difficult for it to recover
- He aimed to do this by disarming the Germans, regaining Alsace and Lorraine and making Germany pay the cost of the damage France had suffered during the war
- Many French leaders saw the Treaty as an opportunity to cripple Germany so it could not attack France again
- The French President (Poincaré) even wanted Germany broken up into a collection of smaller states, but Clemenceau knew that the British and Americans would not agree to this
- Clemenceau was a realist and he knew he would probably be forced to compromise on some issues.
- However, he had to show he was aware of public opinion in France
- He demanded a treaty that would weaken Germany as much as possible
The Big Three: Woodrow Wilson (USA)
- Wilson was an idealist whose aim was to build a better and more peaceful world from the ruins of the Great War, however, Wilson did believe that Germany should be punished
- His view was that if Germany was treated harshly, some day it would recover and want revenge
- Wilson's main aim was to strengthen democracy in the defeated nation so that its people would not let its leaders cause another war
- He believed that nations should co-operate to achieve world peace
- In January 1918 he published his Fourteen Points to help achieve this. The most important for Wilson was the fourteenth. In this he proposed the setting up of an international body called the League of Nations
- Germany showed no interest in it and carried on fighting. In fact, the German leaders showed that they had little time for the principles of the fourteen points when they made Russia by the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk in March 1918. Russia was forced to give up a large amount of land to Germany and Austria-Hungary and to pay an enormous war indemnity
- This gave the Allies some idea of how Germany would treat the defeated nations if it had been victorious in the war. It was only when the Germans had been defeated and their allies deserted then that they showed an interest in the Fourteen Points. They claimed that they believed that they had to agree to peace on the basis of these points
- He also believed in self-determination (the idea that nations should rule themselves rather than be ruled by others). He wanted the different people of eastern Europe (e.g. Poles, Czechs and Slovaks) to rule themselves rather than be part of Austria-Hungary's empire.
- Many people in France and Britain did not agree with the ideas contained in this 14 Points. They seemed impractical. E.g. self-determination: It would be very difficult to give the peoples of eastern Europe the chance to rule themselves because they were scattered across many countries. For example, 25% of the population of the new state of Czechoslovakia were neither Czechs nor Slovaks. Some people were bound to end up being ruled by people from another group with different customs and a different language.
- Some historians have pointed out that while Wilson talked a great deal about eastern and central Europe, he did not actually know very much about the area
- The USA had only been in the war since 1917 and Wilson did not appreciate the strong feelings against Germany that existed in France and Britain, so he simplified the problems
- Moreover, it soon became obvious that his party was loosing support in the USA and there was a growing feeling in America that the USA should have nothing to do with Europe. There was no certainty that the USA would sign the Treaty.
- As the conference went on, Wilson began to give in more to the views of Clemenceau, putting all his faith in the success of the League of Nations - the last of his Fourteen Points
The Big Three: David Lloyd George (Great Britain)
- Led Britain to victory in the First World War
- At the end of 1918 he won a very convincing victory in the general election. In this election campaign, his party had used slogans such as "Hang the Kaiser" and "Make Germany Pay". There was a massive press campaign in Britain for the punishment of Germany. Loyd George did not share these views
- His main aims were to preserve the supremacy of the British navy and to prevent a settlement that was so harsh it would not work because Germany would never accept
- At peace talks Lloyd George was often in the middle ground between Clemenceau and Wilson.
- A realist, who wanted to punish Germany but only in a way where Germany would not be destroyed so Germany would lose its navy and colonies because Britain thought they threatened the British Empire
- However, like Wilson, he did not want Germany to seek revenge in the future and possibly start another war. He was also keen for Britain and Germany to begin trading with each other again.
- Before the war, Germany had been Britain's second largest trading partner. British people might not like it, but the fact was that trade with Germany meant jobs for them
- So the recovery of German economy was important for Britain
- He was afraid that if Germany was punished too harshly, the German people may turn to Communism
- For these reasons, Lloyd George was the compromise view at the Paris Peace Conference between the extreme Clemenceau and the more moderate Woodrow Wilson.
The Great Powers (Europe in 1914)
The Peace Settlement
In Europe 1920, the new states were:
The Treaty of Versailles
28th June - Signing of the Treaty
- Germany had no choice but to sign the Treaty
- The British wouldn't stop blocking the naval (stopping ships importing food into Germany)
- France was prepared to invade Germany
- The Germans were blackmailed into signing the Treaty
- As Germany was in great food shortages they didn't want to be invaded after they had just lost the war
- the Germans called this Treaty a Diktat (dictated peace) - because Germany was forced to sign it
The Treaty of Versailles punished Germany in the following ways:
1. Loss of Land
On the western frontier of Germany:
- Alsace and Lorraine were restored to France
- The provinces of Eupen and Malmedy were given to Belgium after plebiscites (a vote by the people on a question of national importance)
- North Schleswig was transferred to Denmark after a plebiscite
- The Saar coalfield was put under the control of the League of Nations for 15 years and France was allowed to take the coal during that time. After 15 years there was to be a plebiscite
On the eastern fromtier of Germany:
- An independant Poland which has been destroyed in the 18th century was restored
- The part of Danzig was made a free city under the control of the League of Nations
- Danzig had a mainly German population, but Poland needed it as an outlet to the sea for trade
- Upper Silesia was divided between Germany and Poland after a plebiscite
- The port of Memel was to be ruled by the League. It was taken by Lithuania in 1923
- All the gains that Germany had made from the defeat of Russia in 1918 were given up, mostly to Poland but also to form the indepenant states of Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Boltic States.
- The union of Austria and Germany (Anschluss) was forbidden
- All Germany's colonies were surrendered and given to the victorious powers as mandates (the power to rule a country granted by the League in preparation for self-government), by the league of Nations.
- Names of Germany's colonies that were lost were Togoland and Cameroon - were run by Britain and France, East Africa went to Britain.
2. Military Restrictions
- The army was limited to 100,000 men.
- Conscription was not allowed and tanks and military aircraft was forbidden
- The navy was limited to 15,000 men and to have only 6 battleships and no submarines
- The Rhineland was declared to be a demilitarisation zone.
- This meant that although it still belonged to Germany, no German troops or weapons were to be allowed within 50km of the river Rhine.
3. War Guilt
- Germany was forced to accept that it was guilty of causing the war
- This gave the Allies a legal reason for demanding reparations from Germany.
- It was a moral condemnation of the actions of the country. The war guilt clause - Clause 231 of the Treaty
- The idea of reparations, is that the defeated powers paying the victorious powers the cost of the war, was not new:
- In 1871 Germany had forced France to pay £200m for the cost of a war that had lasted for less than a year and was fought almost entirely in France
- In March 1917, Germany had charged Russia a large war indemnity when it was forced to make peace after a war, much of which had been fought on Russian soil.
- Now as France and its one-time ally Russia had been treated so harshly by Germany. The question was, how much would France expect Germany to pay for a war that had been fought over 4 years and mostly in France and Belgium, not Germany.
- The war had been costly for everyone: all the countries involved had lost large numbers of men and spent a vast amount of money on munitions, transport and supplies for the fighting men and weapons, much of their land and industry had been destroyed by the war
- The problems of reparations was so complex that it was too difficult to solve in 1919. Feelings of hatred and revenge in the victorious countries against the defeated countries were too great
- A reparation commission was set up, which reported in 1921; reparations were set at £6,600m. (paying isn't always in money but in raw materials e.g. coal)
- Germany was originally given 42 years to pay, but the amount was reduces in 1929 and it stopped paying 1963
- The Germans paid a "Blank Cheque" as they didn't know how much they were going to pay
The Other Peace Treaties
1. Treaty of St. Germain, 1919 - dealt with Austria
- Became a small independent country
- It was forbidden to ever unite with Germany - Anschluss
- Much of its land went to the countries of Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia
- Pay Reparations to Italy
2. Treaty of Neuilly, 1919 - dealt with Bulgaria
- Lost its land to Yugoslavia and Greece
- Pay reparations to Greece
3. Treaty of Trianon, 1920 - dealt with Hungary
- Give land to Romania, Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia
- Pay Reparations
4. Treaty of Sèvres, 1920 - dealt with Turkey
- The Turkish Empire was broken up and countries in Near East were mandated to England and France (e.g. Syria, Palestine, Lebanon)
- Turkey became a republic