Peacemaking 1918-1919 and the League of Nations

How did the Treaty of Versailles establish peace?

Why did the League of Nations fail to keep peace?

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Notes Numero Uno

  • 11 November 1918 at 11am - the first world war came to an end as an armistice was agreed.
  • In France and Belgium alone - 300,000 houses, 6000 factories, 1600 km of railway and 112 coal mines destroyed.
  • Worldwide 8 million soldiers dead, 9 million civillians dead.
  • Terms of the armistice included; 
  • Surrender by the German army of it's equipment
  • Surrender by the German navy of all its submarines and most of its ships
  • Establishment of a neutral zone on the banks of the River Rhine
  • 'Reparations for damage done'
  • January 1919 - the countries of the world went to Paris to agree terms of peace.
  • The pre-conference turned into the Paris Peace Conference.
  • The Treaty of Versailles was finished by May; it was made up of 435 clauses.
  • The League of Nations was set up in January 1920 under the terms of the ToV
  • Woodrow Wilson suggested the League in his Fourteen Points 

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Note Numero Dos

  • British and French politicians had doubts but they had no alternatives to offer
  • The Convenant of the League of Nations was a list of 26 articles that all members were supposed to agree to follow; these ensued countries would work together to ease international trade and improve working and living conditions for the world's people.
  • Article 10 stated that members of the League would act together to ensure that any members threatened with war was protected by the other members.
  • Germay and the USSR was denied membership..
  • Woodrow Wilson was unable to get the American Congress to approve the membership of the US.
  • The US was seen as the main economic and military supports for the League; they, as a missing link, weakened the organisation from the start.
  • At first, in the 1920's, the League was successful but during the Great Depression in the 1930's things began to go downhill.
  • The League did not have a permanant army, sanctions were not enforced and countries began to ignore their aim.
  • The League was replaced the United Nations in 1945.
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Woodrow Wilson

January 1919 - Woodrow Wilson (USA), Georges Clemenceau (France) and David Lloyd George (Britain) met in Paris.

Wilson was a real connaisseur of peace; he made his pacifistic views clear. He wanted all countries to join a League of Nations to resolves disputes peacefully.

In January 1918 he had published his Fourteen Points - a list of principles he believed every country should follow. His core beliefs;

  • To achieve world peace in the future, nations would have to co-operate.
  • A nation had the right to self-determination. 

Wilson believed that Germany had been punished too harshly; if the peace treaty was too harsh Germans would be resentful and want revenge. He thought they should lose some territory but not made to pay the war damages.

The USA had not joined the war until late 1917 - it could be said that Americans took a more detached attitutde towards the Germans as they had not suffered too extensively. 


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David Lloyd George

Lloyd George understood that there would have to be compromise in order to reach a settlement. He;

  • Wanted Germany to be punished fairly. This contrasted with what he'd promised Britain before the election in December 1918 when he said he'd 'squeeze the German lemon until the pips squeak'.
  • Wanted to protect British naval interests and disliked Wilson's idea of free access for all countries to the sea. He wanted instrad to reduce the German navy andextend the British empire. He also did not want them crippled too much as they would eventually have to trade again with Britain. 

The 'Big Three' argued a lot; Lloyd George often described himself as being between 'Jesus Christ and Napoleon'. He took control when the other two begun to digress and persuaded Clemenceau to agree to a League of Nations. He forced Wilson to agree to a War Guilt clause which opened Germany up to pay reparations. 

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Georges Clemenceau

Clemenceau had become Prime Minister in November 1917 and had promised to win the war for France. He also promised that Germany would never again inflict the same damage on France again. 

His three main aims were;

  • Alsace-Lorraine (taken by Germany 1870) to be restored .
  • Germany must pay for the suffering of the French - this was agreed by the French to be in the form of money and land.
  • Germany must lose land on the border of France for security.
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