Reactions to the Treaty of Versailles


German reactions

  • The treaty was viewed as diktat by the German people as it was very harsh and they had no say.
  • They felt horror/disbelief due being lied to about Germanys position in the war.
  • Woodrow Wilsons 14 points stressed the importance of all countries having the right to self determination. Germany were denied this right due to military restrictions.
  • The polish corridor's creation led to millions of Germans stuck living in non German states.
  • They felt resentment due to the reparations price being too high as it would cripple the economy.
  • They felt that war guilt was unfair as Austria-Hungrary started the war.
  • Saar Coalfield would no longer produce coal for profit, damaging the economy further. France, Belgium, Italy were supplied with the coal from Germany.
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Were Germany's expectations unrealistic?

  • The treaty was based heavily on Woodrow Wilsons 14 points: Alsace Lorraine was rightfully given back to France, Polish Corridor was created granting Poland access to the sea. Germany expected to keep Alsace Lorraine as they viewed it as a trophy from the Franco-Prussian war.
  • The treaty was not as harsh as it could have been - Clemenceau wanted the treaty to be much harsher and the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk (March 1918) punishmed Russia much more harshly
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Right wing reactions

  • Those who were right wing in Germany majorly resented the Treaty of Versailles as they struggled to accept the military defeat that Germany suffered.
  • They labelled the politicans who signed the peace settlement as the 'November Criminals' as they felt as though they had been stabbed in the back due to the betrayal of the 'fatherland'.
  • The 'stab in the back' myth was actively promoted by Ludendorff and Hindenburg as it was particularly appealing to ex soldiers who fought in the war who suffered humiliation and insults. They also struggled to find employment. However not all soldiers who returned from the war were hostile towards the new government as some supported the new government while others gravitated towards communism.
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Reactions from Abroad

  • Britain: David Lloyd George was welcomed back to Britain with a large crowd who celebrated the Treaty. The British people were happy with how crippled Germany had become due to the treatys terms. However Lloyd George did not want Germany to be weak as he was self interested due to only being concerned with Germany being strong enough to trade with Britain. Many in Britain viewed the French as vindictive towards Germany and believed the treaty to be unfair. 
  • France: The french wanted to seek revenge on Germany. They believed the treaty was too lenient on Germany despite some of their demands on how they wanted Germany to be punished were met (e.g. Alsace Lorraine returned to France, Rhinelands demilitarised). Clemenceau was blamed for this defeat in the next election in 1920.
  • United States: Reactions to the treaty was genuinely negative, unlike France, America felt as though the treaty was too harsh on Germany and countries such as Britain and France used the treaty to benefit themselves from Germanys downfall. This led to Woodrow Wilson losing the congressional vote which led to America not joining the League of Nation and retreated any involvement they had with European affairs. 
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